Fall 2020–Spring 2021
A web user experience for facilitating deeper conversations between humans
Collaborator: Trisha Pickelhaupt
THE LONELINESS EPIDEMIC
There is a great need for genuine human connection!
Loneliness is “the subjective feeling of isolation... Anyone, anywhere, of any age can experience loneliness.”
— Jamie Ducharme, TIME
“Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.” — Robert Waldinger, Harvard Medical School
“Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives... and are better predictors of long and happy lives than social class, IQ, or even genes.” — Liz Meneo, The Harvard Gazette
We are currently experiencing a “loneliness epidemic” as a society at large, despite the vast interconnectedness the Internet provides. Spontaneous interactions, like chatting up a stranger on a long airplane trip, has become obsolete and there is a need to revive this connection.
COVID-19 has only exasperated the loneliness epidemic. With more time at home due to the pandemic, people are realizing a lack of new connections in their daily life. They are wondering how to resolve this problem within the guidelines of pandemic safety restrictions and their personal comfort in approaching strangers.
THE INTERNET PARADOX
Internet usage creates a false sense of social involvement and has negative effects on psychological wellbeing
We may be more connected online through information sharing, but often these communications are heavily filtered and one-sided. Unhealthy and prolonged use of the Internet has shown to actually increase depression and feelings of loneliness.
A social platform for engaging in
deep conversations with strangers
This will be achieved through an interactive web experience and surrounding brand/community that promotes honesty, empathy, and self-reflection
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Who has had the greatest impact on your life?
What do you wish you could say to your parents?
What was your favorite place to spend time as a kid?
Are there hobbies you used to do that you no longer do? Why?
Have you ever had a “friend-breakup”?
Do you have scars on your body and how did you get them?
When did you learn about sexuality?
Is there a story where you did something but never told your parents?
How has your perception of what an “adult” is changed as you've grown older?
Was there a time where you laughed so hard your stomach hurt? What always makes you laugh?
What was a spontaneous decision you’ve made and what was the result?
What is something that happened to you that people have a hard time believing?
What do you wish you said to someone before they left your life?
What do you wish you had?
What is your wildest goal? How are you currently working towards it (or are you not working towards it)?
What is something you learned about yourself in the past month?
How do you deal with stress?
Who are you with when you feel your best?
How have you made a big impact on someone else’s life (positive or negative)?
How do you feel about change?
What challenges are you dealing with right now?
Cultivate honesty, empathy, self-reflection
Balancing product-guided constraints and user-controlled actions to allow for a flowing yet safe conversation.
Not another addicting social platform
The platform will be a supplement to a person’s life, not something that consumes their attention for hours each day. We want to utilize the capabilities of the internet, without sacrificing a healthy life balance.
What's out there right now?
Online college student
Consumes information about the world through the internet and media
Plays many sports and video games
Color orbs replace photo profile pictures to reduce superficial judgment prior to speaking with a stranger
Trish and I are testing the concept with Zoom and volunteer participants
“I was surprised by how comfortable it was. Normally meeting a new person isn’t as comfortable.”
“I just thought it was really refreshing to talk to someone I’d never spoken to before who I knew was open minded and wanted to get to know me too.”
“I wish I could do this every day”
“It was a nice break from constant school for the last 13 weeks with no break, no contact from anyone outside of [my] little bubble… actually being able to talk to other people, complete strangers, is just super cool to me”
“Exceeded expectations. I feel like I made a new friend.”
“I think we bonded most over our shared fears. It's nice to talk to someone that doesn't know anything about you.”