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(Screenshot of an app called Split.)

Social media is all about staying connected. It’s why we carry our phones with us constantly, posting status updates, photos and videos. And when we aren’t on our phones, we’re on our computers, refreshing these sites so we don’t miss a beat.

And this technology isn’t just encouraging us to be social online: Apps such as Foursquare and Tinder — a dating app I experimented with for my last column — are using location services to help us connect with people digitally in order to meet up in person.

Recently, Facebook announced a new feature called Nearby Friends, which allows users to broadcast their location to friends in the area. With the tap of a button, you can send a friend your exact location, complete with a map of where to find you.

But increasingly, more people are opting out of social media, whether they’re leaving social networks entirely or simply choosing more discerning methods for their social consumption.

For instance, last week, Twitter unveiled the mute button, a new tool that enables users to “turn off” tweets from specific people without their knowledge. It’s essentially the same thing as hiding a friend’s posts from your Facebook News Feed — a polite way of ignoring someone you don’t want to hear about. And, of course, instant-messaging platforms have always offered the “invisible” function, which lets you appear to be offline to specified users.

The logic behind these options is that instead of blocking or unfriending someone altogether, you can choose the less harsh route to keep the peace.

“Everybody has somebody they want to avoid,” Udi Dagan told Reuters. “For some people, it’s their exes; for others, it’s their bosses or even relatives that they don’t feel like bumping into during their free time.”


 (Screenshot of an app called Split.)

Dagan is CEO of a technology company that recently released a new app called Split. Designed for iOS and Android devices, the free app connects through Facebook and notifies users when a certain person they want to avoid is nearby, offering an alternative route so paths don’t have to cross.

Cloak is an app with a similar premise: It collects location data from Instagram, Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter and displays a map of a where your friends have last been. You can set alerts to be notified when certain people are anywhere from a half a block to 2 miles away.

“Cloak refers to itself as ‘incognito mode for real life’ — a tip of the hat to Google’s private browsing setting on its Chrome web browser,” TIME notes.


(Screenshot of an app called Cloak.)

This new trendy technology been coined “anti-social media” — “explicitly marketing itself as a means of social evasion, (which) seems to account for its appeal,” Mark O’Connell wrote in the New Yorker.

“There’s a certain novelty value in the idea,” he said, “a kind of satirical inversion of the assumption of gregariousness built into your Facebook and your Foursquare.”

Of course, the catch of this technology is that users must have geolocation enabled on their devices. And as someone who almost never posts my location, I would be hard to avoid.

But what if avoiding people isn’t enough? Well, there’s an app for that, too.

It’s called Duster, and it was developed by two computer science students at Boston University. The app connects to your Facebook account and provides a list of people you haven’t interacted with lately — trying to filter the acquaintances from the actual friends. You then have the option of either hiding these people’s posts from your News Feed or unfriending them all together.

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