‘Hell Is Other People’: An Anti-Social Network

The slick new app helps you avoid everyone you know. The catch? First you have to share exactly where you are

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Want to avoid running into people you know at bars and restaurants? Hate stop and chats as much as Seinfeld creator Larry David?

While a location-based social network such as Foursquare helps you discover all the cool spots where your friends hang out, Hell Is Other Peoplea self-proclaimed “experiment in anti-social media” — maps where your friends are so that you can stay away from them. Foursquare users log on through Hell Is Other People’s website to launch a “Friend Map” powered by Google Maps and Foursquare, which shows where your friends are via orange dots based on their most recent check-in and recommends “safe distances” from them, illustrated via green dots. Here’s what mine looks like:

Picture 249

Hell Is Other People

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The app’s name is a famous line from writer and existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit. The site’s creator, Scott Garner — who is getting a master’s degree in Interactive Telecommunications at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts — describes the experiment’s purpose:

This project is partially a satire, partially a commentary on my disdain for “social media”, and partially an exploration of my own difficulties with social anxiety.

Of course, the irony of this app is that you have to find your friends to hide from them. And for the program to work, your friends would have to be checking into places wherever they go so that the safe distances points can be calculated accurately. The video explainer above is basically a lonely, moving selfie in which Garner ends up discovering cool, new places around New York City as he tries to stay clear of friends.

The elegantly-designed app is just the latest digital backlash to our overconnected lives. About five or six years ago, a slew of humorous, anti-social media websites went viral, such as EnemyBook, a Facebook app that labels friends as enemies. Hatebook and Snubster became popular where people could share things they hated. Hatebook users create a “hate profile” where they can “upload somebody’s lies” or “publish secrets.”

Most current sites that have been dubbed anti-social networks try to limit the amount of information you share to people you know well, unlike Facebook and Twitter where you can connect to hundreds and thousands of people and share data indiscriminately. Path only lets users have 150 friends at most, while a social network like FamilyLeaf is limited to family members. And the appeal of Snapchat, the hip photo-sharing app of the moment, is that it deletes photos after up to 10 seconds, unlike Facebook where they can exist forever.

But if you really want to participate in an anti-social network, you’ll have to log off altogether.

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32 comments
MattSedaris
MattSedaris

They should've named it "other people are hell," given the meaning of Sartre's quote.

Mike_Dean
Mike_Dean

Good grief, the sheer angst in these responses.  Keep clutching the pearls, folks, your histrionics are amusing.

NicOdemus
NicOdemus

Social media is generally a waste of time unless it is www.wingley.com where you check in to update a restaurant or airport security wait time. Try it out and you'll have a different opinion of Social Networks.

JD81
JD81

Not sure I want to avoid people ;-) However, I recently found a more private and personal social network, which I quite like. The app is called www.grouptime.com

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

An app that allows you to avoid people you don't like??  How old are we now, 12??

Main Message Here:  GROW UP ALREADY!

Life is filled with unexpected encounters - some pleasant, and some not-so-much.  Get used to it, and learn how to handle it like an adult.

You can't create an app for every irritating, discomforting, and awkward situation in life.

A part of growing up is learning how to maturely deal with life as it is, and not how you'd like to program it.

ChikuMisra
ChikuMisra

I quit the Internet for a month and it was nice. That whole Hollywood Washington media axis of evil is destroying civilization with this stuff about children being forced to live in gay households.

uckermanf
uckermanf

Jesus, can you people not read:


"This project is partially a satire, partially a commentary on my disdain for “social media”, and partially an exploration of my own difficulties with social anxiety."


Why are you getting so bent out of shape over this? The person who created it explained what its purpose was, and not one of those reasons was "people need an app to get away from their friends."


Honestly!


DavidYard
DavidYard

Why not just use one of the other apps (like fore square) to see where people are and then... (wait for it) NOT GO THERE.

Personally any of my friends that post their every move on FB (or any other social network) I hide, block, ect. I don't care that you just stopped at the store and are now driving to the cleaners and just had a great time at the mall with your other friends.  

RickFromTexas
RickFromTexas

I'm too anti-social to use a social network to post about how anti-social I am. Oh wait...

RudyCramer
RudyCramer

If you NEED this app, then you also need one to breathe.

LeeAnneTorrance
LeeAnneTorrance

If you are truly non-social and anti-social, as I am, then you have NO friends.

Problem solved.

algaringo10
algaringo10

Hell may not be other people to those who are "normal" but try being around people when you have any syndrome that makes interaction painful to you and causes others to not only reject you but to become actual virulent at what to you are inescapable behaviors. Note individuals with Aspergers, with irritable manic cycles beyond their control. Hell for these people is indeed other people

TimJohnson1
TimJohnson1

If you dont want to be social then dont plug into a social app to begin with. Problem solved.

bryan_krause
bryan_krause

These apps are stupid. If you need an app to avoid your friends, they aren't your friends.

Mr.Wallingford
Mr.Wallingford

You George Michael Bluth's app actually WORKS?!! Holy crap, I had no idea!

rohit57
rohit57

However, I would be happy to avoid Olivia Waxman, the author of this article.

The last thing any of us need is someone who utters meaningless polite comments when it is obvious they are trying to get away!  :-)

rohit57
rohit57

Good heavens!  

Has America become so anti-social that we actually need an app for avoiding people?

One good thing about immigration reform is that Hispanics are not anti-social.  Maybe their presence will leaven this country a little bit.

NicOdemus
NicOdemus

Social media is generally a waste of time unless it is http://www.wingley.com where you check in to update a restaurant or airport security wait time. Try it out and you'll have a different opinion of Social Networks.

sammy99999
sammy99999

Their lack of desire to learn English and otherwise assimilate would indicate that you are wrong.

LeeAnneTorrance
LeeAnneTorrance

@sammy99999 

People always talk about immigrants not learning English, but if the situation were reversed and many Americans had no choice but to immigrate to a non English speaking country, then I wonder how many of them would even be able to learn another language.

English is a very difficult language.  I imagine the average Hispanic immigrant is too busy trying to keep body and soul together to devote daily hours to mastering English.

rohit57
rohit57

@sammy99999  I meet weekly with three Hispanics to read the discuss the work of Borges.   Even though all three have Spanish as their mother tongue, and  even though Borges wrote in Spanish, they have agreed to carry out the discussions in English as a way of being nice to me.

This is just one example.  There are many others.

RubyLong
RubyLong

I call bull sh*t on this. There are far more bi-lingual Mexicans in the county than there are Honkys. Perhaps sammy is feeling a bit infirior due to his intelectual difficiencies? 

perisoft
perisoft

@sammy99999 I sometimes consider attempting to *forget* English just so I don't have to read things written by people like you...

KenM
KenM

@dgdoesstuff 

"Which the type of Mexicans that pour over our borders lack."

"I still work on learning whatever language I'm in the country of."

Looking at what you just typed, I'd say you have a long way to go.

dgdoesstuff
dgdoesstuff

@LeeAnneTorrance @sammy99999 That's the thing though--even with English being a global lingua franca, I still work on learning whatever language I'm in the country of. It's common decency. Which the type of Mexicans that pour over our borders lack.