Unsocial: Not what you think it is

Originally published Aug 3, 2011

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

-Lewis Carroll

Do you spend too much time on Facebook, or Twitter, or Google+? Well take heart, because there’s a new app called Unsocial, which might be just what you need to wean yourself from your social networking addiction. Except it’s not. It’s actually a social networking app.

The Name Inspector was quite surprised to learn about this name, and wondered what would lead someone to think it up for an app that helps you meet people. After all, a person who is “unsocial” is someone who doesn’t want to be around other people. Isn’t this a bit like calling your paper towels Mess? Or your encryption software Expose? Yes, it is.

The tagline for Unsocial is “It’s not who you know. It’s who you need to know.” This location-based app helps you meet people who match your specified criteria when you’re hanging out in a hotel lobby, airport, or some other public space. So in a way it’s not merely about being social–it’s about being downright extroverted.

Re-purposing the word unsocial to name this app is just wishful thinking. It doesn’t say “go beyond social”. It says “I’d rather just stay in my hotel room and watch HBO”.

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