One of the internet’s greatest gifts is its ability to connect people. Anyone with an internet connection can communicate with the whole world, give or take local censorship laws, which would have seemed inconceivable not long ago.
However mankind, unused to such a vast social vista, has tended to form tribes in corners of the internet, communities tied together by a certain webpage, and sometimes also by real-life experience. These are social networks, and in many cases they have outgrown their virtual corner, with Facebook and Twitter sprawling greedily across cyberspace.
The central tenet of all such sites is communication, between members, the site and the advertisers who (oftentimes) pay the bills, and websites are always trying to increase their user engagement. However for some people, this constant communication is a real turn-off. Ralph Arkleton was one such user.
“It was just a bit much, or that’s how I felt,” explains Ralph. “Why did people keep contacting me, or projecting their opinions on me? I wanted to be on Facebook, but I didn’t want to have to deal with all of that. That’s why I started Ant-esocial, the internet’s first antisocial network”
Founded in early 2013, Ant-esocial closely resembles Facebook, but you soon notice the subtle differences. Instead of a newsfeed, the Ant-esocial homepage simply reads “Nothing to see here, do whatever you want.” The messenger function is conspicuous by its absence. And while you can see other people on the site, if you click on anyone’s profile, a pop-up reads “Easy there, give them some space.”
“I’m an introvert, really. So is half of the population of the US. This site is for them,” says Ralph, as he stares contentedly at his No-newsfeed. “People ask why be part of a network at all, and that’s a good question. I don’t know either, but I do definitely want to belong. I just don’t want to have to talk to people.”
Ralph is not alone, with socially reserved users signing up in droves. “We have no idea who they are, of course,” says Ralph. “I would never be so forward as to ask them to fill in personal information. I’m just glad that they’re there, and that they’re not trying to communicate with me.”