In a world dominated by Instagram filters and photoshop, is it possible for social media and intellectual interests to successfully mix? Poetizer, the first social network created to connect users through the sharing of poetry, was founded in Prague by Lukas Sedlacek and is available for free on the web and in app form. Sedlacek claims he created the network for poetry lovers who are seeking a platform to share their own poetry and read the work of others. Since it’s creation, however, Sedlacek has shared several other goals he has in mind for his new social network. “Our vision is for people to better empathize with one another through poetry by tearing down those walls we so often have up and that are so often reinforced by harmful ideologies and lack of exposure to otherness” Sedlacek explains at a conference following Poetizer’s November 2018 release. He adds that Poetizer is unlike other, more traditional social media platforms, in that it offers a “safe space” for users to connect without the damaging pressures present in networks such as Facebook or Instagram.
So, one year following its launch, is it accurate to say that Poetzier has achieved the goals it set out to? In a lot of ways, Poetzier can certainly be considered successful. In only twelve months, the company boasts a user base of over 60,000, connecting individuals across 120 countries. The platform provides access to over 500,000 shared poems, with an average of 35,000 new contributions each month. In addition to this impressive growth, Poetzier should absolutely be recognized for the creative outlet it provides for its users. Unlike picture based networks that often center around how attractive each user is, Poetizer users are able to connect in a more personal and authentic way. Instead of creating a profile based off of curated posts that represent only the best their life has to offer, poetry leaves more space for expression, and less for looks based judgement.
However, this is not to say that Poetizer completely eliminates judgement between users. Despite the success the platform has had in terms of building a substantial user base and providing an outlet for creativity, I am not so sure they have achieved their goals in creating a social media alternative free of damaging pressures. Sedlacek brags that Poetizer only offers the option to like a poem, omitting a dislike button in order to prevent cyberbullying. What he fails to recognize is that many of the traditional social networks, the ones he criticizes for instilling negativity between users, don’t offer a dislike option either. This format still leaves plenty of room for competition, as users may feel pressure to reach a certain amount of likes on their poems, and can be left with feelings of inadequacy if they don’t. All of this is without mentioning the power of hurtful comments that so often plague social media. Although Poetizer successfully eliminates any looks based competition between users, it does nothing to prevent any other negative pressures created by social media.
Despite these drawbacks, Poetizer continues to reach more and more users worldwide. So will it ever truly outweigh, or have any significant influence on larger social networks such as Instagram or Facebook. The short answer is no. Although there has been some growth in recent years, the overwhelming opinion among young adults is that poetry is boring, with only 17.5 of people aged 18-24 having read poetry in the past year. While Instagram and Facebook cater to everyone, Poetizer’s user base is limited only to that small fraction of the population that write and enjoy poetry. Unfortunately for Sedlacek, this restricts it quite a bit. To sum it up, while Poetizer is a fun and creative new platform, it bears many similarities to traditional media platforms in regards to opportunity for cyberbullying, despite its founder’s claims. Due to this, as well as a general lack of interest in poetry among young people, it certainly won’t be making Instagram bankrupt anytime soon.
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