In this era of sharing everything, tweeting constantly, checking-in to every destination, and Instragramming every precious moment in your life, it can be difficult to find some semblance of peace or privacy. And unlike what older generations may say about young people being obsessed with staying connected, it seems many are looking to keep some parts of our lives close to the vest. Occasionally, we just need a break from the relentless streams of information being presented to us, whether that break happens digitally or in real life.
A new trend in anti-social media apps has surfaced, so check out these apps for the days when you want more control over your social life:
Anomo is for shy people. Initially it was constructed as a dating app for introverts but has since expanded its reach. Meant to be an antithesis to Facebook, a place where everyone shares everything with all of their friends, Anomo users can use the app under an avatar. Then they find other introverts they’d like to strike up a conversation with after a series of innocuous icebreaker questions, based on how Anomo matches you up. Slowly, Anomo users can reveal bits of information about themselves, including hobbies, jobs, photos and, of course, their real names. The app “allows you to reveal different pieces of yourself as you get comfortable with someone that you met,” which is, as PolicyMic’s Oliver Osborne wrote, a “more realistic depiction of how people build relationships in the real world.”
This one is not quite an app, but it’s too useful to not mention. For those most serious about eliminating distractions and social media, the Anti-Social plug-in may be the answer. Sometimes you’ve just got to buckle down, turn your phone off, quit Facebook temporarily and get your stuff done. With this browser plug-in, you can set up “timed blocks” of social media sites for as many as eight hours. You may be “turning off your friends,” as Anti-Social says, but you’ll also be extremely productive. Worth the short bout of being a recluse.
“Your temporary respite from the masses,” Avoid Humans was developed with the craziness that is SXSW in mind. Combing through social media data like Foursquare check-ins, Avoid Humans is one Austin ad agency’s way of helping agoraphobics find peace and refuge. The app serves up a list of the least crowded places in Austin (where it’s exclusively available now, but other cities should be coming) in four categories: nightlife, food, coffee and refuge with a color-coded reference (green, yellow, red) letting you know if your imminent destination is safe. Plus, Avoid Humans prompts are funny, if you know Austin culture at all; if the place you want to go is red, it is apparently “more crowded than a UT football game when the UT football game was good.” Use this app to learn where to make a phone call without chaos around you, or just to hear yourself think—and here’s to hoping someone makes a mobile app that works across the country.
This app is designed “to show you where all the cool people … aren’t.” First built as an aid to busy Christmas shoppers, Avoid the Shopping Crowds logs tweets, Facebook posts and Foursquare check-ins to see where the people are so that you can remember not to go there. Receive updates on the store or market where you want to shop like “calm,” “not too busy,” “busy,” “very busy” and “forget it.” It’s not so much anti-social as it is just being smart with your time, but unfortunately Avoid the Shopping Crowds is only available in a few districts of the Netherlands.
Cloak dubs itself the antisocial network. I would argue that it doesn’t allow users to become terribly anti-social but rather lets one tolerate sociability on his or her own terms. Pulling geo-data from Instagram and Foursquare accounts (and just recently added, Facebook and Twitter), Cloak users can anonymously check out which street their college professors, exes and obnoxious coworkers are on so they can head the opposite direction. It even sends push notifications warning who is near. It should be noted that Cloak’s creator, Chris Baker, is also behind a Google Chrome extension that turns Facebook photos of babies into pictures of cats, bacon or pugs. Of course, Cloak only works to your advantage if the person you’re trying to avoid actively reports his whereabouts on social media, but everyone has someone they’d prefer not to make horribly uncomfortable small talk with. Still, Cloak’s functionality and success (it has already been downloaded 300,000 times) depends on the incessant sharing culture of traditional social media, so is it really antisocial at all?
TIME writer Laura Stampler says apps like Split are “making you a worse person,” but nonetheless, that’s not stunting their popularity. The Split app lets you choose your least-desirable Facebook friends and categorize them in lists so that the app will beep a warning when one is getting close. Split goes one step further by offering alternate routes in avoiding whomever you don’t want to see. For the maximum effect, your friends should be active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare. To facilitate your “splitting” from a given location, Split also has “danger zone” pointers that show you locations where your least favorite people often go, and you can find out whom they hang out with. It’s all about “avoiding unwanted encounters,” but it sure sounds like a lot of work when you can simply duck into a restroom or under the table—like the good ol’ days.