None of the alternatives seem to work. The various chat options work as chats but not much else. And alternatives like Cluster or Cocoon or micro.blog/Sunlit don’t really work…because we’re already committed to Twitter and Instagram. It’s not going to be possible to get everyone to change apps until everyone changes apps. Like Hemingway’s bankruptcy, it happens two ways: slowly, then quickly.
Signal is probably the best example of this. It’s a viable replacement for WhatsApp, cross-platform and ad/snoopware free, and I have two or three ongoing chats there. And honestly, it seems to be the one app you can convince people to add. Every week or so another name appears, “so-and-so from your Contacts is on Signal” and the arc grows a little larger. Until Apple opens up iMessage to Android, it’s the only cryptographically sound way of doing chat that is safe across ios, Android and MacOS (I cannot speak to its efficacy on Windows). If only it worked with CarPlay.
If only there were some master reader app. I could have some people’s Insta, some Twitter, maybe even a random SnapChat or TikTok going into a single feed. This was the promise of RSS, and it fell apart quick because the social media model relies on everyone in one app (all cross-posted to Facebook as it happens).
TikTok is interesting, though – separate it from its Chinese parents (who are shady AF, irrespective of whether they have done shady things yet) and you have the first legit challenge to Facebook since Instagram and one FB is powerless to merely buy. They cloned it, of course, as they do with anything they can’t buy. But it is a threat to FB and to YouTube, which is as much a social medium and engine of radicalization as anything on FB despite the fact nobody is holding Google to the fire. And that alone makes TikTok interesting in a way that hasn’t been possible for years now.
I suppose in a lot of ways it’s about just having something else. Twitter is trash, Facebook is evil (as are all its properties) and I’m too old for Snapchat and TikTok. I just want something to keep up with my friends that doesn’t make me feel like part of the problem.