Your Facebook friends are boring. Your Twitter followers sound like a bunch of parrots. And your LinkedIn contacts, well, who wants to talk about work all day, anyway? Amazingly, in 2015, it’s still possible to feel like you’ve reached the end of the Internet, especially if you rely on your social networks for news and amusement.
But there are more ways to connect with people online than the three most popular social networks. In fact, smaller networks are some of the best places to dig into topics you care more deeply about. So sign up and check out at one of these great alternative social networks:
App.net: Two of the largest complaints about Facebook are how the company gives your data to third party applications, and the way the company manipulates its News Feed to show things that aren’t necessarily updates from your friends. App.net is a great alternative to signing into third party sites (where it’s supported) with your Facebook account. But it also has a news stream where many media outlets post their stories. So, if you like to keep your friends’ updates and news stories separate, un-follow the media accounts on Facebook and add them to your App.net account, instead.
BeMyEyes: Technically speaking, BeMyEyes is not a social network. That said, it provides one of the most intimate interactions you’ll ever have with another person via technology. Designed to help blind people to solve everyday problems, the iPhone app connects the vision-impaired with fully-sighted users via video chat. Users can then point their iPhone’s camera to show their remote helpers the situation at hand — a door sign, an expiration date, a piece of mail. The sighted person lends their eyes to help the blind user solve their problem. It’s that simple, but it’s also that amazing.
DeviantArt: While image-oriented social networks like Pinterest and Instagram have rocketed in popularity, DeviantArt has held steady as the world’s largest online art community for 15 years. With more than 300 million original works of art submitted by at least 34 million members, this forum is home to artists from more than 190 countries posting everything from anime to 3-D landscapes for their peers to comment on. Whether you’re interested in traditional techniques like oil-painted landscapes, or off-the-wall topical themes like #cosplayfriday, you’ll find artists who appreciate your efforts and whose expertise will push your craft forward.
Doximity: Whether it’s for finding a new opportunity or making contacts to grow your business, LinkedIn is great for networking. But what happens when you’re already locked into your job and just looking to navigate your field? Doximity is a social network specifically for doctors, allowing them to network with other medical professionals in this secure, closed network. By using the National Provider Information Registry to authenticate doctors signing up, it assures all users are legitimate M.D.s. And with HIPPA-secure and encrypted interactions, safety is built into the network. Simply by reading their personalized news feed, doctors can even get continuing medical education credits using the iOS or Android app.
NextDoor: One of the curiosities of the social media age is how we can be so well-connected with people on the other side of the world, yet still not know our next door neighbors. A network designed for building and strengthening communities, NextDoor connects people within geographic neighborhoods, helping them talk about things that are important to the places where they live. Part Craigslist (with a classified section), part Yelp (where users can recommend local businesses), and part Facebook (with neighbors able to post updates and comments on other people’s posts), NextDoor pulls the seemingly invisible layer of social interaction out of the web and lays it onto the real world. Also, there’s some really catty online neighbor spats on this forum that you’re totally missing out on.
RallyPoint: Service members often equate being in the military with being in a family. If that’s so, RallyPoint is the largest family gathering online. A site that mixes the professional side of serving in the Armed Forces with the personal, RallyPoint lets users weigh in on discussions on everything from military policy to post-military life. It also connects to a variety of other networks to help you find your friends and contacts on its own Android and iOS app. And you don’t need to be an active-duty member to use the service — even military family members can sign up to connect.
Untappd: Of all the things we post for friends on social networks — pictures of our kids, recipes, news stories — beer might be the only one we’d actually share in real life. A social network for people who enjoy great tasting suds, Untappd lets users check in at bars, write a review of their pint, check in to see what their friends at other establishments are sipping, and of course, take that highly-filtered half-drunken beer picture for all to enjoy. If this sounds boring to you, you might want to try ordering something a little more expensive other than Miller Lite once in a while.
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