Monthly Moments

by David Hartsough (2020-05-17)

The following is an explanation and exploration on the why and how behind my new social sharing app: Monthly Moments. After you've read a bit here and have some context, please try out the web app and send me your feedback. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

What's this all about?

I built the app, Monthly Moments, because I believe it should exist as an alternative (or an addition) to modern social media. It's my ideal platform — minimal yet meaningful.

I believe the internet is one of the world's most powerful tools for connectivity and communication, especially in a globalizing world. We all want to stay connected and involved in friends' lives, even as you might move to opposite ends of the globe. Social sharing platforms are one of the best potential tools and solutions for this.

And yet, a majority of my friends (myself included) have come to find ourselves rejecting social media. I wanted to explore why that is and how it all could be done better.

This project was born out of that disappointment and frustration with today's social media platforms. The app strives to do it better by rethinking the process of social sharing to make it simple, based on the ideal that "Less is More".

Why do people not like social media as it is now?

  • It profits on people's attention.
  • It profits on people's data.
  • It profits on suggested, sponsored, boosted, and promoted posts.
  • It profits on ads.
  • It focuses on related and suggested content from "pages".
  • It focuses on businesses, brands, "pages", ads, promotions, sponsors.
  • It takes focus away from friends.
  • It focuses on "news".
  • It displays all posts in the same way, as if they are all the same. However, some posts are extremely important, while most others are meaningless and trivial.
  • Posts are not intentional.

How can these things be avoided?

  • Nothing is for profit
  • Nothing is "public"
  • Everything is for cultivating connections
  • Everything is for personal sharing
  • All moments shared are intentional and meaningful
  • Everything is consumed just once a month

What will be different about this social platform?

  • No likes
  • No comments
  • No numbers
  • No businesses
  • No data farming or selling
  • No suggested, sponsored, boosted, or promoted content
  • No ads
  • No related or suggested content
  • No "news"
  • No banter
  • No photos
  • No notifications
  • No "pages", businesses, or brands
  • No BS

Just the people and the moments you care about — one month at a time.

Examples

Types of Moments (posts)

  • Milestones
  • Major life events
  • Projects, accomplishments, achievements (things you take pride in and want to share)
  • Events you went to or were a part of
  • Happenings, life updates, changes
  • Things you enjoyed, focused on, spent time with, found meaningful, etc
  • Activities
  • Media, entertainment, games, movies, books

Things that Moments are NOT

  • Random thoughts and opinions
  • World or public news
  • Banter
  • Trivial, daily, routine, mundane, quotidian tidbits
  • Articles
  • Retweets, shares
  • Memes

Wait, but why?

Why monthly?

By making this monthly, there is no reason to check this more than once a month. No more daily scrolling through feeds. No more daily updates keeping you tied down to looking at your phone throughout the day.

This is a social sharing platform that encourages the ideal: Less is More.

The reason this app doesn't need notifications is because the new updates only ever occur on the first of every month. It is simple and predictable. It requires no notification. Nothing ever requires your immediate attention. You can read your friends' updates and recaps of last month at any time. (You're encouraged to do it within a month's time, but even that isn't necessary.)

Why no notifications?

Notifications are attention-seeking and life-sucking. The more time people spend looking at notifications, the less time they spend on the important Moments of life that are worth remembering and sharing. Nothing about this app is "real-time". This app is meant to be used twice a month: once for writing your own recap of your month, and once for reading through the recaps from your friends. That is the primary interaction of this app, and thus it requires no notifications.

Why just "connections"?

(Originally I thought this could allow people to "follow" each other… I went down the wrong way.)

This is for friends to connect.

This is not for following celebrities.

No "followers" / "following". No "close friends" vs just "friends".

Just solid, shared connections with people you care about and know personally. These moments are personal.

No privacy layers or permissions. Just good, trusted connections.

Why no comments?

If you're reading through someone's Month and a particular Moment strikes a thought or question in you, then you should go have a conversation with that person offline in a more meaningful way. Comments are annoying and trivial. They don't cultivate conversation.

Why no likes or "numbers"?

I think we all know why. But if not, then consider the fact that Twitter and Instagram are in the process and will soon hopefully remove all the numbers from their platforms. Numbers that correlate to things like "likes", "views", "retweets", "shares", "comments", "followers" are all causes of some serious psychological problems. They tap into a part of our psyche that we should not mess with when we were originally just intending to use social media as a way of staying updated, connected, and involved in each other's lives. It has created an awful part of our culture today. It drives narcissistic and sociopathic tendencies. Numbers are used for quantifying data, which is useful for comparing and computing. There is absolutely nothing that needs to be compared or computed about people's life updates and people sharing major life events and milestones. This kind of information is personal and should be treated as such. The more we equate our shared moments to numbers, the less qualitative and human they become. People should not need "likes" and numbers to feel validated or to feel a sense of worth or value. This drives behavior that aims to please the masses. If people want to know that they are loved and worthy, then they should seek that validation offline with valuable relationships. A number of "followers" cannot possibly represent the depth of love a person has or how significant a person is. If we want to show others that they are valuable and that we admire them, then we should show our love and our "liking" of that person in a more personal way. We should take our appreciation for each other offline and in person. Celebrate your life's Monthly Moments with more than just the click of a button.

Why no ads, businesses, data farming, or sponsored, boosted, or promoted content?

Easy: Life isn't about making money. This app doesn't need to make any money. There is no need for profit. Absolutely nothing about this is for profit. The moment that intentions turn towards profits, the app will lose its humanity and its pure purpose. People need great ways to stay connected and involved in each other's lives, especially people who cannot see each other regularly because they live long distances from each other. This is about one of many ways of addressing that need and cultivating this communication. The Moments people share with each other are personal. The app is personal. No one should profit or gain from such personal and private interactions, communications, and connections.

Why no "news" (in the traditional sense of the word)?

News about local or global events should be received from official, credible, unbiased journalist sources. Staying involved in your friends' lives has nothing to do with staying up to date on the state of the world or your community. Both are essential, but they are not related and should be done separately. They are different in a semantic way. (They are meaningful in different ways.) We should treat our interactions with them as such. The mediums for them should be different, because your updates from your friends are very personal, while world news is usually not.

What will this be like?

The best example I can think of is… Do you remember those monthly "newsletters" you could subscribe to by email? This will feel like that, except it's just you and your friends and family updating each other on life.

What's next?

For now, I am keeping the app in Stage 0: Early Access. I'm going to share this among friends and family to try it out for the first month or two. Meanwhile, I'll be gathering feedback to determine what the next stage will be. If things go well and people love this idea, I will keep improving the platform and develop the app for mobile phones (iOS and Android).

Another way I'll be able to gauge the progress of this app will be its organic growth; if people genuinely want this, they'll need to get their friends involved. Thus, it should spread naturally. We shall see!