As the Coronavirus drives a series of cancellations and closings around the world, communities will unavoidably become more segmented and their citizens more isolated. With public health experts urging both the healthy and the infected to self-quarantine to stop the virus from spreading, a modern world already creating an epidemic of loneliness will produce that much more solitude this spring.
In the ongoing battle against COVID-19, the Center for Disease Control reports one of the key elements in preventing further spread of the virus is limiting any non-essential social contact. Put simply, we’re all being asked to self-isolate as much as possible.
A new social media app, HearMe, offers free, on-demand peer support to counter the effects of the loneliness that could easily follow amidst this viral warfare. The service puts trained volunteers on standby, allowing app users to connect with an empathetic ear. The listeners on the other end of the line are trained to understand what the social media user is experiencing in the moment.
According to HearMe’s own description, the app is intended to help users tackle the stresses of “becoming a new parent or dealing with a breakup on their own.” The service emerges in an era promising a prime example of the law of unintended consequences. Advances in social media designed to provide constant connection create scores of people feeling more lonely and anxious.
Several studies show social media leaves humans feeling a lack of genuine, direct interaction and create a void of authentic connection. HearMe was designed by founder and CEO Adam Lippin to combat those surprising side effects.
When the app’s designers had it on the drawing board, they couldn’t predict the onset of Coronavirus – an illness promoting loneliness as a necessity lest it spread wider through social situations. As 2020 wears on, the amount of isolated people are significantly increasing — at least over the short term. Social media apps like HearMe are bound to see a spike in usage.
Between the app and its website, lonely social media sojourners can watch videos and read articles from the HearMe Content Library to prep themselves for better dealing with loneliness, finding activities to counter its torments and highlighting healthy ways to seek more interpersonal relationships. However, that final element may need to wait a while in the face of COVID-19.
After the user connects with that friendly voice on the other end of the HearMe line, he or she can use the app to track personal progress on emotional state and expression. According to the service’s own internal statistics, 96% of users who tap into HearMe resources for one week end up in a better mood and feeling less lonely.