Despite their lofty mission statements, today’s big social media platforms are centrally focused on one singular concept: more. These capitalistic software machines are designed to stoke a pervasive and ever-increasing cycle of production and consumption for the purposes of growth and profit. To accomplish this they leverage data and scale to produce signals and interface patterns that keep us engaged, promising connection and joy in exchange for increasing shares of our time and attention. The platforms embed within us the idea that our own sociality is best evaluated and understood through quantity. They reconfigure our sense of time in ways that can make minutes or hours ago seem old. And their personalized feeds teach our brains that the only content worth watching or reading is that which we can already imagine. In its tireless pursuit of users and data and wealth, big social media sacrifices human agency and potential on the altar of more.
But what if social media wasn’t engineered to serve capitalism’s need for growth? How might online collective communication be different if our time and attention were treated as the limited and precious resources that they are? Minus is an experiment to ask these questions, a finite social network where users get only 100 posts—for life. Rather than the algorithmic feeds, visible “like” counts, noisy notifications, and infinite scrolls employed by the platforms to induce endless user engagement, Minus limits how much one posts to the feed, and foregrounds—as its only visible and dwindling metric—how few opportunities they have left. Instead of preying on our needs for communication and connection in order to transform them into desires for speed and accumulation, Minus offers an opportunity to reimagine what it means to be connected in the contemporary age. The work facilitates conversation within a subtractive frame that eschews the noise and frenzy for a quieter and slower setting that foregrounds human voices, words, and temporalities. Though it may be disorienting at first to navigate an online social space devoid of the signals and patterns Silicon Valley uses to always push for more, Minus invites us to see what digital interaction feels like when a social media platform is designed for less.
- Software for Less (solo), arebyte Gallery, London, UK
- The Guardian / Observer (UK): How artist Ben Grosser is cutting Mark Zuckerberg down to size.
- Ocula Magazine: Ben Grosser Wants to Mess with Your Socials
- CLOT Magazine (UK): Insight: Ben Grosser’s ‘Software for Less’, a space to reveal what the digital could become
- Input Magazine: Minus is the anti-Twitter that grants you 100 posts for life