I want you to try something. Open your social media platform of choice. Press your thumb against the screen of your phone. Scroll through the newsfeed like you normally would. Close your eyes. Keep going. Does it feel any different? Are you any more or less happy? Does what’s on screen really matter, or is it this feeling – of your thumb gliding across a piece of glass – that matters?
New social media app Binky embraces the insignificance of #content. It presents you with a stream of completely random stuff: Rat. Flute. Niels Bohr. Impressionism. Garbage. Annoyance. Steel. Much like Twitter or Instagram, you can like images, leave comments or ‘re-bink’ posts. Like Tinder, you can swipe images left or right. None of this, however, matters in the slightest.
There is no option to connect to friends through Binky. There are no records of your various likes and re-binks. There are no consequences. It is an echo chamber of one, with all your swipes and taps thrown into a void. The app lets you comment on posts, but whatever you type results in pre-generated sentences of hyperbole and hashtags. No one else will read these.
According to the app’s creator, Dan Kurtz, Binky is intended to be meaningless. The inspiration for it came after scrolling through social media, then failing to remember what he’d just seen.
“Does that mean that like, nothing I’m seeing on Facebook actually matters? If I replaced all the stuff that I’m seeing with just random photos of chairs and condiments, would that be just as compelling?” he told NPR. “It turns out the answer is yes.”
Binky is a joke, clearly, but it is also a pacifier. Like the image of the baby’s comforter that makes up the app’s icon, it is something for users to fiddle and slurp as a way to trick their brains into contentment. It is social media without the stream of opinions, approvals, politics and commentary. For an age of smartphone compulsion, it is perhaps the perfect sedative – an inert replacement for a nipple.