Do we really want to be social?

All the tech talk is about the mess at Twitter and the rise of Mastodon. But I keep asking myself, and I know others are asking the same of themselves too, do we really want to be social?

It’s becoming clearer than ever that platforms where human thoughts can be instantaneously posted and virally replicated at dizzying speeds—while addictive and sometimes fun—are simply not desirable. Faced with Twitter’s ongoing implosion, isn’t it worth considering that this entire mode of communication—frictionless and fleeting, algorithmically engineered for engagement at any cost—is ultimately not sustainable? 

Instead of simply mirroring what came before, what would it look like if we completely re-engineered our digital spaces around concepts like community, privacy, and mutual care, instead of ad impressions and profit? Would the quality of information on these networks improve if posting took a bit more effort and determination? What if the communities on that network built their own spaces, for themselves, instead of those spaces being built for and defined by ad buyers?

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