In recent weeks, I’ve noticed an uptick in the number of people who are talking more about restricting how much they use social sites like Twitter. Too much noise these days, they say. No place for finding new friends or topics. No room for quiet conversations. Also, privacy is an ever-present issue.
There are many great apps that let you write short messages, stash pictures with captions, and even check in to your favorite locations, without posting any of the resulting data online. And there are other services that continue to provide quiet, private online communities for when you need a break from the larger networks. Here are a few that I’ve been using for a while.
Day One is a journaling app for iOS and the Mac. It’s beautiful, fun to use, and it can serve as a nice stand-in for Twitter or Instagram. It handles photos well, let’s you geotag posts with a specific location, record the current weather, and more. When you get the urge to reach for Twitter, maybe give Day One a shot. I have nearly 1,000 entries in Day One, and I add a couple more every day.1
Rego is a check-in app, but it’s completely private. Use it like Foursquare—that is, Foursquare before they split check-ins off into a separate app.
If you post lots of quotes to Tumblr, check out Quotebook. It can even import your previously posted quotes from Tumblr. And if you quote someone’s tweet in Quotebook, it’ll even grab that person’s Twitter avatar and display it next to his or her name. Pretty snazzy. The current version is a full rewrite for iOS 7, and it’s pretty delightful.
This one isn’t necessarily private, but it’s highly restricted. My wife and I use photo streams to share pictures with each other, close family members, and friends. It’s like a private Instagram complete with comments and likes, and it comes built into your iOS devices.
Path and App.net
Sometimes you just need a quieter place with fewer people. Path and App.net still exist, they still have great client apps (I recommend Riposte for App.net), and neither service has yet suffered an Eternal September. Path’s privacy features are especially nice and give you lots of control over who gets to see what.
It’s worth noting that both Day One and Rego offer an option to share your entries to social networks like Twitter and Facebook. If you decide something deserves a wider audience, you can always choose to publish your entry elsewhere. This feature makes both apps a solid middle ground between complete privacy and over-sharing.