In 2017, the negatives of social media might just outweigh the positives. You will have listened to and read about and observed for yourself the myriad complaints about the detrimental effect it is having on our lives. Many now blame the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the increase in procrastination, low self-esteem, and various mental health issues.
But like a moth to a flame, we keep getting sucked back into the alluring matrix of likes, swipes, shares, reposts, retweets, pokes, double taps and tags. I've tried time and time again to reduce my screen time but the sheer habit of scrolling through my phone, coupled with the fear of missing out on other people's fun, throws my willpower out the window.
Based in Oakland, California, developer and improv actor Dan Kurtz recognised the cycle of social media as "meaninglessness" and decided to create an app with a little twist: the unsocial social media app, Binky. Yep, you heard – an app that allows you to like, comment, swipe left and right to your heart’s content, with no social interaction whatsoever. Released in February, the app has already caught the internet's undivided attention, and has been downloaded more than 20,000 times in just a few weeks.
The unsocial feed is essentially an algorithm of random images ranging from duck-shaped courgettes to chips or a bookmark, with a simple descriptive caption. Nothing else, no liking or ‘binking’ back. Neither are you able to type your own comments under the images – the comments are pre-programmed and appear as you start typing, leaving you involuntarily writing #eyebrowsonfleek, #wholetthedogsout and whoompthereitis under a picture of a gecko. It is totally monotonous and yet extremely pleasurable – much like social media, minus the social anxiety.
"Binky demonstrates that the reason we scroll through social media is not because we want to keep up with the news or see photos of friends who are happier than us. We do it because we want to scroll through stuff on our phones," Kurtz told Mashable. Like a baby with a dummy, Binky distracts. It gives you something to do without you realising that you’re doing absolutely nothing.
Kurtz continues: “I don’t even want that level of cognitive engagement with anything, but I feel like I ought to be looking at my phone, like it’s my default state of being.” Preach. Binky gives us exactly what we're looking for, without the social complications. Sure, it might make you feel a bit of an idiot as you scroll and swipe through the infinite feed of arbitrary pictures. What the app does most successfully, though, is prove a point: that social media is a largely pointless addiction. Good one, Binky, good one.