Emptiness And Undead Anxiety: WT.Social Networking Review

Wt.Social reminds one of the shitty movie choices on Amazon Prime

// A rough wooden shack on the plain. Aziz the coffee shop owner places a small cup of strong black swirling mystery on my table, and says, "Look East, my friend." I turn my head, and through the dusty window pane see that the distant mountains are friendly today. A single bird of prey turns and wheels in the silent updrafts. Taking my typewriter out of my backpack, I sip my coffee and slowly begin to compose my first Dispatch of the day.

Long after gladly jumping off the (/systematically) nazified hellship that is Twitter - sorry, '𝕏'crement - , my yearning for Social Media Addiction returned. Almost arbitrarily, I choose WT.Social. Here's what it says on the somehow ridiculously oldschool, borderline Victorian Steam Punk looking front page:

The non-toxic social network

  • Welcome to a place where advertisers don’t call the shots.
  • Where your data isn’t packaged up and sold.
  • Where you - not algorithms - decide what you see.
  • Where you can directly edit misleading content.
  • Where bad actors are kicked out and kept out.
  • Where you actually like spending time.
  • Welcome to social media the way it should be.

Welcome to WT.Social. (Hello? Anyone?)

While this sounds fine and dandy in theory, it could in a sense be called false advertising, since anyone expecting anything remotely like the Twitter interface and user feel is not only going to be severely disappointed, but be like "LOL, WTF is this retro shit?" The site was like something discovered in the Basement Data Archives. Twitter has (or had? I can't keep up) this intense social dynamism, this surging undercurrent - the sense that large volumes of people and data are moving around at high speeds. One gets the strong cultural sense that this is a place where Things Are Happening. (Hint: this sense is false, and synthetically manufactured.)

Meanwhile however over at poor old WT.Social, one feels like the ghost of David Foster Wallace ended up stuck at an obscure public library in Alexandria, and was forever forced to write out infinite tiny index cards on obscure subjects. That is, a particular non-place (Utopia) in which the loftiness of it's stated goals and progressive public social policy meets with and-or clashes directly into the super-mundane poverty of its presentation and user feel.

WT.Social is as boring as a drizzling month of Sundays in Eastbourne (somewhere in the UK with more undertakers than nightclubs. Don't worry about it.) It's utterly dead, Dave. Nobody lives there. It's like a failed experiment which never even got of the ground. (As we speak, republicofbob.net has had no subscribers and, as far as I can tell, zero page views except for me; I know something about Dead Internet Sites.) Rather than a place where social media networking thrives, it successfully proves what is cosmically ordinary and horribly dull about the digitally 'Social' - ie. flat, tired and flavorless; unremarkably bland. Wt.So seems to accidentally lay bare the truth behind the mass hype and 'fun fairground noise' of social media. That it's just a bunch of dead pixels on the screen, and we are fools for reading anything at all into them.

I like this approach, and actually think it's healthy. Social Media Hellsites like Twitter expresses a self-convenient mythology, an air of 'hot and happening'. The apparent cachet and mystique of 'The Social', which really means fuck all; blind consumers and digital rubberneckers who've merely been trained since the 50's to pursue what is apparently Cool and Happening with a rabid fervor. All other priorities rescinded. YOU SIMPLY MUST CLICK HERE NOW!! Why, though? What exactly is the BFD?

What is this alleged 'power' of The Social (at least as corporate capital defines it) which draws countless millions in without a second thought - or even a first, for that matter? It's certainly not for the actual meat and potatoes - I mean, anyone who honestly, truly gives two desiccated sparrow shits about whatever brainless PR-vetted dogshit Kane or the Kardashians are doing is already too far gone anyhow - but for merely for the sense of the social. The sense that one is a part of something, anything larger. (No matter how bloated, generic, mindless and unknowable.)

Ask most people on social media however, and they probably won't admit to simply being bored to death in their daily life under Capitalism. They just feel this 'like, connection man'. (Like a modern form of the old apparent cliche of organic Hippy 60's connectivity.) But they aren't really connected together, rather than merely hooked up to The Machine like junkies.

I sat for an entire fucking hour last Saturday, waiting for a bus into town that never came. A young woman waiting nearby repeatedly took her nice new mobile Black Mirror out of her pocket, swiped left with her swollen thumb at the latest Socially Mediafied Whatever, and then put it away.

Shortly after a bird flew overhead. There was some light wind noise. Traffic went past, to and fro. Dusty leaves moved. Somewhere a dog barked. Apparently reality was all too much, precisely because there wasn't anything remotely interesting happening there. Only 'online, realtime' held The Answer. She got out her phone again.

You could feel the waves of psychological tension and neurotic reaction streaming off this person. A certain nervousness, barely visible but there - the mental equivalent of foot tapping. They surveyed the world immediately around them, apparently saw nothing worth attending to in Non Digital Reality - and then immediately went back to sucking their little electronic social media teat for another quick, hot hit of raw processed corporate CONTENT™. In one hour, she must of got out and looked at that bastard evil plastic rectangle about twelve times. At some point I felt like slapping it out of her hand and stamping on it, saying "Welcome back to the real world." She'd probably have punched my lights out for such an Addiction Intervention.

The anxiety felt when away from social media as the existential fear that reality is devoid of substance and meaning

Social Media and mobile phones (really the same thing) are a form of collective mental illness. (I mean, it certainly is insane that sweatshop manufactured black rectangles of ecology destroying plastic and rare earth metals mined by children even exist.) The near visceral psychological revulsion I felt on witnessing WT.Social up close and person for the first time, might of been directly due to my Pavlovian training to be an addict of social media - specifically, the sense that "Whatever the fuck this is, WT.Social isn't IT." 'It' being the apparent intense automatic / automated excitement and sense of mass social connectivity of (say) Twitter.

I started to sweat. I had to get off the site asap, I had to go somewhere, anywhere where my needs as a consumer were being fully met, right now. Any slick, cool, up-to-the-minute, constantly-shit-talking, hard-memeing interface where professionally produced CONTENT SLUDGE gets repeatedly flashed across the front of my idiot frontal cortex, making me inwardly drool with hypermediated, dopamined pleasure. The holy Swipe-Left gesture as the direct equivalent of the public wallet-tug by one-armed bandits in Vegas; you really must be a 20 watt fruit loop to imagine you don't have to be an addict to be constantly used by them. And addicts aren't born, they're made.

It's not just that use of mobile phones fills the boredom and aching emptiness in one's life, but nowadays more that mobile phones and social media represent a mass collective fear that nothing but Teh Internet holds any meaning or relevance. To which one response could certainly be "If the internet's the answer then we're fucked / we must be asking the wrong question."

At what point were we all duped into imagining something as corporate small potatoes as social fucking media hold, apparently not merely our entire identities but the whole of reality itself in it's sinister digital thrall? Professor O'Blivion was right.

Poor old violently retro WT.Social; it never really stood a chance. Yet another drastic, over-reaching reaction to what was already a reaction - merely another way to upset and 'disrupt™' the applecart of our ordinary, non-mediated lives. That is, 'blandevil' (evil+bland) corporate shit like Twitter / 𝕏-crement didn't simply, humbly and organically arrive on our mental shorelines, it was deliberately manufactured in order to mine us for our attention, our private interests, our political profiles. A tasteless, time sucking data vampire.

Wt.Social reminds one of the shitty movie choices on Amazon Prime. Like your favorite Near Future Retro 80's mom n' pop video store deep in suburbia, just before closing time when the zombies attack. The world's most wastey-ass titles, scattered at your feet. You idly kick them with your skate shoe, half hoping for something of at-least moderate interest to turn up. No such luck. Nobody cares about Subwikis, just as they don't really care about straight-to-unrewound VHS titles with garish covers. The vague threat of an OK-time. Another sigh-inducing chance to soap your brains out to cheap explosions, troma-tic violence, excruciating dialogue and some TnA.

The single good thing WT.Social has going for it, is that it accidentally symbolizes the existence of a minor realization: that all social media networks are merely deathly boring, exhausted, defunct and meaningless. Scratch the surface and find zip. Social media as anti-life. Bob's WT.Social verdict: Born Undead.