Jumping on the MeWe Bandwagon

I rarely use Facebook, partly because it eats up a lot of time but mostly because I started to realize just how much Facebook was doing with and profiting from my personal data. It’s creepy. So, I cut back my Facebook time to about 30 – 40 minutes every month or so. I’m not keeping up with everything on Facebook anymore and sometimes I wish I could when it comes to family, but Facebook really isn’t about family updates anymore and hasn’t been for a long time so I don’t really feel as guilty about walking away from it as I might have 10 years ago.

With everything going on with the election and the inauguration, alternative social media platforms have been getting a lot of sun. I’m always keen to try out new platforms, mostly to see if there are any great memes, but I hadn’t heard of MeWe so I decided to give it a try. It’s surprisingly well put together and fun to use, once I got over the learning curve and figured out which groups to avoid.

There are, however, some really basic things wrong with MeWe that are surprising. Here are three things I’ve noticed so far:

  1. If I create an album in My Cloud and upload photos to it, there’s no way to share that album with anyone, whether they be Close Contacts, Contacts, or Public. Those photos are dead weight. You have to create a photo post and add 50 images, share it, then create another photo post and add 50 images, share it, etc. That’s really messy. It would be nicer to create an album, caption the photos, and share it when it’s finished one time so people see the finished product. Granted, I don’t have a lot of albums that would need more than 50 photos, but I do have a few and other popular social sites offer this functionality and have offered it for many, many years.
  2. There’s no way to delete an album and have it just delete the photos in the album as well. You have to first delete the album in My Cloud and then you have to manually select every photo in your Photostream, clicking one at a time and then clicking delete which is absurdly tiresome and shouldn’t be how things work in any social network, free or paid.
  3. Once you’ve created your account, it’s apparently impossible to change your email address so I may have to delete my entire account to change to a new email address. Why this is a problem shouldn’t even need to be explained. I figured this out after opening a Proton Mail account, which is encrypted and comes with 500 MB of storage on the free account. I figured it might be nice to have a new account for professional messages, since my Gmail is now an advertising-filled dumpster fire like my Yahoo! email was before it.


I don’t want to use Facebook, but the alternatives really make it hard to settle in with glaringly obvious problems that should have been addressed a long, long time ago. MeWe isn’t brand new after all.

I’m reminded of how Signal is just now trying to add custom backgrounds and more customization options after this influx of users. They’re going to lose out to Telegram, which isn’t as secure, because it’s just more user friendly and more fun to use, because they didn’t take the initiative. It’s also possible to search for public channels or chat groups, which Signal doesn’t seem to support.

I submitted feedback about those issues more than once over the time I’ve been using the app. Now, the Signal boat is sinking and they’re trying to bail it out with new features rushed out in their beta version while people are choosing whether to hop on board or swim to the Telegram boat. I wonder how you explain that to all of the people who donated to Signal to create an exceptional and secure messaging app? That they created a product that lost out to another messaging app run by a Russian oligarch as a pet project?

I think I’m going to wind up using MeWe mostly for a handful of groups and some personal updates, but probably nothing too personal. I didn’t even sign up with my full name. The way that social media is being weaponized now is honestly terrifying and has a chilling effect on speech. Something you say today that is conventional might become a weapon to attack you in 10 years.

I think the 2020s are going to be a time when people take a step back and anonymize and the web goes back to how it was in 90s, before every post and comment online became part of a global ePeen contest. If we can get around current government and corporate efforts to prevent that from happening anyway. I imagine they want and need the US to move more towards a blending of offline and online identities leading to a shadow social scoring system. Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t one already in place.

Signal to Noise Ratio Online

This week was much quieter than previous weeks. It’s not that there isn’t as much going on. I suppose it’s just that I’m tuning it out more and focusing on my own issues. Caring about other people’s problems is a luxury and a burden, and sometimes that burden just gets tiring.

What I mean is that there are people on social media platforms that are constantly whining about the plight of some particular group of people or vociferously advocating some political agenda. There’s so much spin online that it’s a chore to try to find content that doesn’t suck and to sort through the noise in the responses to see if there’s anything meaningful.

I’d like to think that there was some magical era in the Internet’s past when this type of behavior didn’t exist. I remember trash talking in AOL chat rooms in the late 90’s. I remember griefing in MMO chats in games like Ultima Online and World of Warcraft. But it wasn’t this widespread and pernicious. It was localized. It was something you could turn off and walk away from and it was separate from your real life. Or at least that’s how it felt.

Probably three things led to the escalation and spread of the problem: smartphones, more widespread social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and the idea that you should use your real name online and “put yourself out there”, which later evolved into the idea of building your “personal brand” online.

The idea that you could turn yourself into a “brand” and attract attention led to polarization to gain and influence people politically, which fueled the spread of conspiracy theories and crackpot ideas on all ends of the political spectrum. And of course there are all the idiots eating tide pods and creating challenges to monetize their notoriety.

I had this idea when I was a kid that the Internet was going to help me learn things and that I would meet interesting people from all over the world that could teach me how to be a better person. In some cases that’s true, but there’s a lot more chaff than wheat in the field.

I guess I need to put more effort into curating the content that I look at, but the Internet seems geared towards overcoming people’s personal preferences to push sensationalized content for ad revenue. I would like to believe that if the barrier for self-hosting content (like, on a server in your house) were lowered both in terms of education and hardware/access costs (some ISPs charge extra to open the ports necessary for a home server to connect to the Internet) then we could overcome a lot of this BS, but I also feel like this somehow ties in to larger issues of wealth disparity and that some people are willing to push anything online if it’s going to make them money.

Maybe I’m just getting old and this is the equivalent of wanting young people to stop playing their boomboxes so loud, but I hope that one day the Internet is more than it is today in terms of quality.