Melt is a social media app I don't hate yet

By Ted Rall , written on June 5, 2014

From The News Desk

If I didn't have to promote my work, I wouldn't be on social media.

Twitter's bias toward early adopters and celebrities reflect a winner-take-all economic structure and a culture that elevates inanity; I despise both. Facebook is a troll-infested mess of invitations to games and events I don't care about, on a page and an app that are designed like shit, slow and hinky. Google+ is where dialogue goes to die; we all go to post, never to read. Everything you post gets pushed down your feed within minutes, vanished forever into the bowels of the NSA's Utah data farm.

Since social media is the way we communicate with everyone who isn't a close friend (and many who are), I use workarounds to mitigate the Internet's feed-the-beast mentality. Though less than perfect — integration doesn't work — Hootsuite lets me cross-post across different networks. I use Siri to dictate my posts to Twitter, Facebook and, out of inertia, Google+. And I don't post as much as I should, i.e., as much as some other cartoonists and writers I know.

That said, I've been trying out a new social media app called Melt. I like it.

They call it "Instagram for voice," which is true. I call it HeyTell meets Twitter.

HeyTell is voice messaging over the Internet. I'm not surprised it never made it big. You can only "call" other people who also have HeyTell and accept your invitation, which is a pain in the ass. Once you have a circle of HeyTell pals, however, you'd be surprised how handy it is. If you're running late to a meeting, you just hold down a button and talk; within a second, your friend has your message in your voice, background noise and all. It's probably still illegal in states that have passed anti-smartphone statutes, but pushing one button and talking for 30 seconds is objectively safer than texting or, for that matter, talking.

It's also a great way for introverts to say hey without having to, you know, actually talk.

If you've ever screwed up a friendship with an email that didn't convey the tone you intended — in my case, irony or sarcasm — you know that plain old text is tone-deaf. Prose's flatness fails to convey intent. Voice, on the other hand, conveys subtexts of mood, tone and even context (that background noise). A HeyTell from someone stuck in traffic, horns blaring nearby, in a voice that is clearly exasperated, is always going to prompt more understanding than a straight "running late" text or email.

Which is what makes Melt cool.

You just hit the black and blue dot (no holding down), record whatever for up to 60 seconds, push the dot again and add a title. Touch "post" and you're done.

I'm a four on the one-to-10 Myers Briggs introvert-extrovert parlor game/test, but when I communicate I want people to get where I'm coming from, not just read a Western Union-style communiqué. Melt does that, and it also opens up fun sound-based opportunities, like posting where ocean waves are crashing or subways are rumbling. Tahrir Square Melts would have kicked the butts of Tahrir's tweets.

And it's fascinating to hear people's voices from around the country and from other countries. It's a cool new form of connectivity, one I think I'm already hooked on.