Why Young People Are Turning to Anti-Social Apps

Some critics say that young people have logged in and checked out, that the addictive nature of the newsfeed means that we have traded real connection for virtual connection and that the boundaries between the two have become increasingly blurred.

We say critics are wrong.

Young people are done with uploading and cataloging nearly every part of our lives. Instead, intimacy and privacy in the digital age is now what we seemingly seek. Constantly being connected to the world was cool way back when, but this constant connection is exactly what we're now fleeing from.

The result is in the rise of anti-social networks. Unlike Facebook, a platform for sharing your life with your "friends," the app Anomo allows users to share things with people on your own terms. After signing up for the app, users can choose an avatar as their profile picture and can take their time revealing their information to specific people when they're ready, such as their name, picture and occupation.

Basically, the interaction you have will be the foundation of your relationship before you have to reveal other parts of yourself to others. 

Anomo "allows you to reveal different pieces of yourself as you get comfortable with someone that you met," which is more realistic depiction of how people build relationships in the real world. James Sun, co-founder of the app, calls it the social network for introverts.


Then there are anti-social apps that allows you to avoid people at all costs. Cloak is the brainchild of former BuzzFeed creative director Chris Baker and co-founder Brian Moore. Whoever downloads the app is given the ability to "avoid exes, co-workers, that guy who likes to stop and chat — anyone you'd rather not run into."


Image Credit: Love That

It works by scraping the location data from Instagram and Foursquare and plotting your "frenemies" on a map, notifying you when they get too close for comfort and giving you ample time to run for the hills.

When asked about the rise of "anti-social" apps, Baker and Moore said, "Tell us there wasn't a caveman back in the day who wanted to avoid the other caveman from down the way."

And it's true. We like being connected, but not all of us like sharing every aspect of our lives with the world at all times. Social media needs to hold up a more realistic mirror of society.

This could definitely also be the reason why Facebook recently acquired Oculus Rift for $2 billion.

Zuckerberg wants us to consider virtual reality as a social platform. In reality, he is asking us to be "anti-social" to continue being social. Spending time offline is integral to Facebook's success as our newsfeeds are saturated with things we do when we're away from our screens.

Whatever the outcome, the boundary between the offline and online world is set to become increasingly blurred. Apps like Cloak and Anomo are implementing features into social media that reflects offline habits, while Facebook works on ways in which it can keep us connected and not lose its connection to us.

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Oliver Osborne

Currently studying an MSc in Digital Anthropology at UCL in London, and former graduate in Media and Communications BA at UEA, my interests are firmly rooted in the ways in which technology affects society and culture; social media, the erasable web and issues in data privacy. Feel free to get in touch @ollyosborne

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