​collage: arielle richards / Alhontess​, rvlsoft​ via istockphoto
collage: arielle richards / Alhontessrvlsoft via istockphoto
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NO MORE APPS!!! NO MORE APPS!!!!!!!

Last week, the newsletter turned cultural juggernaut "Perfectly Imperfect" launched a social network. WHY?
Arielle Richards
Melbourne, AU

Ever since I can remember, I have been online.

I have bounced across all mainstream social networks – MSN Messenger, Neopets, Myspace, Tumblr, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, Tiktok. Of that list, only three seem to have stuck. 

No one wants Bytedance, X, or Meta to wholly contain their online lives, but the answer is not, and never will be more apps.

Last week, the newsletter turned cultural juggernaut Perfectly Imperfect launched a social network. 

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Created by former Meta engineer and New York White Guy And DJ Tyler Bainbridge, along with two other Guys in 2020, the newsletter is genius in simplicity: what if we asked hot, cool, niche, internet-famous or otherwise notably left-of-field micro celebrities to give us a list of the shit they’re into right now? 

Weyes Blood recommended “Wax Museums” and “Oysters”. Coco & Clair Clair offered “Cheese Stick With Caviar”. Ayo Edebri spoke of “Zicam Nasal Swabs”, “Being High Maintenance” and “Swapping Books With Friends”.

Recommendations are packaged in a quirked-up, cutesy, star-studded wrapper and shot directly into the culturally undernourished mouths of Manhattan’s sceney, young, tech-inclined elite – and their followers across the world. Perfectly Imperfect is a good idea. 

The app’s concept takes the newsletter’s thesis that “regular people” – when divested from allegiances to sponsorships and corporate algorithms – are the best tastemakers of our times and puts it all on a reverse-cronological algorithm. 

It’s similar to a Tumblr or Twitter feed, in the sense that its user experience is exactly the same, with “re-reccing” taking the place of “retweeting” or “reblogging”, and “liking” replaced by… “Liking”. 

Bainbridge told The Verge in order to develop the app, he manifested getting laid off from his cushy Meta job, succeeded, and spent five months on the pay-off developing what he has named PI.FYI – the internet’s newest social network. “Now I’m just bleeding money,” he said. 

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But why?

It isn’t clear why the logical consecutive step from building an excellent media product was to turn it into a new Twitter. 

The drive to make more social media is a hubristic disease that has spread across the techy corners of the internet, borne when The Social Network revealed just how easily a simple idea could flout naysayers and go on to make billions of dollars and effectively own us all.

There seems to be a prevailing thought in the tech world that, with an idea good enough, the internet can be fixed. Everyone appears to truly believe they can create the perfect app to rival Instagram or TikTok or become the new Twitter. 

But they must be stopped.

Every new app that crawled out of the woodwork when Elon Musk destroyed Twitter in 2023 promised a utopian, decentralised internet, gatekept from bad faith actors, algorithms and trolls by invite-only mechanisms. At the time, the smaller size of the platforms themselves helped – the bigger an app’s community grows, the more polarising posts must be to gain traction. It’s almost common knowledge by now.

All of a sudden, headlines like “I Regret to Inform You that Bluesky is Fun” in Wired and “I Grudgingly Left Elon Musk’s Twitter for Bluesky – and Suddenly The Internet is Fun Again” in Vogue, circled the internet. The annoying, internet-pilled millennials who were big on Twitter relished in the gratification gained from being invited onto new apps. But where are they now? No one has said shit about Bluesky since that one moment in 2023. Mastodon is, as far as I can tell, the sole home of Web3 sycophants. Threads sucks, and if you delete it, you’ll delete your Instagram account as well. 

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Bluesky, Mastodon, Threads… all attempts to create the perfect social medium, free from whatever happened to Twitter, all irrelevant eight months on.

Bainbridge’s app promises nothing more – a hyper-niche, watered-down community for those in the know, which will, undoubtedly, eke into obscurity.

We do not need more social networks. 

BeReal was once lauded as the little social media platform that could, but the app couldn’t handle its own popularity. First came the lags, and then, for users, the actual inconvenience and embarrassment provoked by having to pause and take a picture once a day really hit home. The developers couldn’t figure out a way to monetise it, which was cool at first until it meant that no money equalled no desire to make it any better. 

When was the last time you heard someone exclaim, “OMG, time to BeReal”? 

BeReal is dead.

What pisses me off about PI.FYI is the limpid faux nirvana of it all. In the Perfectly Imperfect blog post announcing the app’s release, Bainbridge called it simply “a labour of love” and wrote:  

“Don’t worry, this isn’t some tech industry sell-out bullshit. Peter Thiel doesn’t have his grubby hands on it, and neither do any other investors. There’s no trust fund. A 3rd party didn’t swoop in and say ‘hey you should make an app!’ No souls were sold in the making.”

Shut up shut up shut up! 

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Nobody creates a social network for the good of humanity. 

Do I think it’s good that an app called “Instagram” and its parent company “Meta” owns my entire online life and sells it for ad dollars? No. 

Do I think the other company running the world ought to be “Bytedance” with its kingmaker “TikTok” app? And do I think it is good that more than 2 billion people are similarly owned by these corporations?

No. What kind of person would? But another social media network will not save us.

It might entertain us, for a while. But the most it’ll do, ultimately, is make some NYC rich boys a little bit richer.

Arielle Richards is the multimedia reporter at VICE Australia, follow her on Instagram and Twitter.