Imzy, the “nice Reddit” has been laid to rest, and is being mourned by its users. It would seem that nice has little place on the ‘net, and has once again been chased into small pockets here and there in the netverse.
After a long bout of illness and injury sustained from battling racism, misogyny, and general depravity, Imzy — the last hope for human decency on the internet — has died. It was 2 years old.
Imzy, the “nice Reddit” created by Jessica Moreno and Dan McComas, two former Reddit executives who left the company in 2015 amid intense controversy over their anti-harassmentpolicies, will officially shut down June 23.
The reason? There’s no room for a platform that promotes basic politeness in the social media market.
In a blog post announcing the impending shut down Wednesday, McComas wrote “it is time for us to shut down the site” as Imzy couldn’t find a “place in the market.”
Imzy’s sunset isn’t just a loss for users, who regarded it as a place of belonging, it’s also a sign that the worst things about human interaction — bullying, harassment, forums dedicated to promoting racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia, unsolicited photos of genitalia, beheading and other snuff videos, child pornography — are likely permanent fixtures on the internet, and by extension in society.
Maybe this is what life on the internet is supposed to be. After all, the internet is just a mirror of the society it serves and a product of the biases and blind spots of a technology’s creators, so why would we expect it to be any different? Why should the internet somehow be better than the casual and blatant nastiness people experience every day?
It seems that belief in duality persists, this idea that online is distinct and separate from ‘real’ life. Yes, the ‘net is societies, writ large, often in crayon and spray paint. There’s a whole lot of ugly in human societies, so it should not be a surprise that ugly rears up on the ‘net. There’s a whole lot of kindness and creativity in human societies too, and that also shows up on the ‘net. It’s true that nice, fun, and kind don’t garner the same attention as ugly and malicious; we are all attracted to the worst excesses of humankind, if for no other reason, to tsk and be shocked that people could do such a thing. I’ve done my own tiny experiments here on Affinity, with doing nothing but art / photography / nice and fun stories in a day of blogging. When I do that, my stats take a serious hit. Blog about politics, assholes, bigots? Much better for my stats. I try to strike a balance, but it’s not always easy to do.
I am not a social person, at my keyboard, or away from it. I find socializing to be exhausting, and can only handle it in limited amounts, so for someone like me, the internet is ideal, because I can wander away when it all becomes too much. That’s why I don’t indulge in social media much, because being involved with social media means being involved with people, and all the consequent obligations to those people. I don’t think there is any particular reason nice can’t thrive on the ‘net, there are pockets of it all over the place, if you go looking. PZ has written about Mastodon a couple of times, and seems to enjoy it. If you’re trying to be a massive media giant, maybe it doesn’t work so well, I don’t know. Imzy had a great deal of money in October, $8 million. I won’t pretend to understand why it’s now being considered a failure, and those in charge don’t seem to want to explain it fully. Perhaps if there was less focus on the money, nice would thrive better on the ‘net, I don’t know. Seems to me that greed and nice don’t go hand in hand, but what do I know?