So I’ve gone and done it…I’ve hitched a ride on the food cart of the Ello train to sample their wares. Here's how our honeymoon together, our first week, has gone so far. A friend sent me an invite, I logged on, I created a profile (as quick and easy as a username and a short description), and immediately was like, WTF? But then I noticed an actual WTF button on the page. I knew we had a future together.
Why? Well, Facebook has become, for lack of a better term, shit. I log on and all I see are sponsored posts, ads, games, and videos that, despite the fact that my psyche doesn't give more than zero mehs about them, my eyes still can't help but obsessively flicker and stutter. And every now and then, sprinkled very sparingly between those mehs, are perhaps a few posts from friends or family. And in those few posts, perhaps a non-political, non-religious, or non-narcissitic gem or two might stand out amongst the noise. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and family, and love seeing what they’re up to, but, well, it’s not all that easy to filter through the madness anymore. While taking screen grabs for this post, I literally scrolled through 11 posts before finally finding 2 - TWO - posts from someone I knew squashed between that casino floor. And this after hitting the useless ‘I don’t want to see this’ button EVERY TIME one of those posts rolls through for the past 3 months. I’ve deleted every ‘app,’ squashed every ‘game,’ to no avail.
Simplicity lies at its raw, but tasty, core. And not a SINGLE ad surrounds that.
Sure, there is extremely minimal functionality, which, between likes and shares and candy crush sagas and page feeds and random invites from sponsored posts (aka the equivalent of early 2000s pop-ups), might be a shock to the zombie robot humanoid system, but, once the withdrawal systems start to wane, you can’t help but realize how…wonderfully clutter-free...this thing is.
One, posts are simple text (with a nice nostalgic typewriter font) - you can link, you can bold, you can italicize.
Two, you can only organize contacts into ‘Friends’ and ‘Noise.’
Three (my personal favorite), pictures look GREAT!!! No compression, no stripping of EXIF data, no renaming to some randomized Da Vinci Coded shlabberdasshery of numbers and letters.
Hell, there isn’t even a ‘like’ button for posts. At first, my (un)natural reaction was, ‘oh snap, what do I do?” Then I realized…ohhhhh…right….communicate! I mean, let’s face it, for the most part, ‘likes’ are nothing more than a gratuitous nod to a stranger as you walk down the street. You don’t really give half a turd, it just seems the respectable thing to do. After all, half the time the person liking didn’t even see the post itself. For example, I’ll post a link to a video that’s 4 minutes long. Immediately I’ll get 5 likes. Within 30 seconds. Which means that either they only watched :30 seconds of the video or none of it at all. More often than not (call me jaded), I’m forced to assume the latter. (Hint to the obsessive likers - at minimum, wait until the length of the video passes before hitting that button…jus’ sayin’…)
On Ello, this is impossible. Because you have to communicate and engage in order to get the best experience and have those dopamine neurons fire. So this 'no like' button thing that started off as the first thing to irk me, ended up being my favorite part of it. After all, because of it, within the first week, I somehow find myself communicating with ‘The’ Thomas Hawk, engaged with my celebrity Arcanum master Robin Griggs Wood, shared with and interacted with my fellow Samsung Imageloggers in a much more photography friendly environment, and have been exposed to a whole slew of new artists, creatives, and thinkers that may have never crossed my path otherwise.
It seriously feels like everyone has just been waiting for something…anything…to help ween them off the Facebook nipple, and whether or not it lasts is anyone’s guess, but it’s already been worth it simply to have connected with new faces, once seemingly unapproachable faces, and ideas that were left simmering in the background before this platform forced them to ripen. Kinda like a cocktail party - feel each other out, and perhaps you’ll connect on deeper more meaningful levels on the periphery.
What it has done, at least for the meantime, is refreshingly brought engagement back. It’s brought a proper human element back. Thoughtful, real, expressive communication.
Sure, there are a few things that can be improved (like including a like-button equivalent on JUST comments - otherwise, acknowledging that you saw someone’s comment can quickly turn into an akward ‘Who's got the last word’-fest), and no doubt as it becomes more popular, they will work on those things, but it’s nice to be a part of something in which the users have a say and impact on the output of what it turns into.
And even if it just lasted this one week alone, that was good enough for me. Because the true implications lie in this encouraging bit:
Despite all our techno-addictions, people still want and crave real connections with people.
So, while this ain’t our first rodeo, and know it can very well all implode at any given moment, until then...get at me!
Ello Ello Ello Ello!