Loneliness is a huge 21st century problem. While most people seem to be moving at break-neck speed living their lives and working hard, not everyone is able to share their experiences and loves with other people.
For many reasons, a growing number of people, young and old, feel socially disconnected and isolated from the people around them, whether it’s because they live away from family, are new to an area, or sometimes simply because they or their loved ones work hard, leaving little time for interaction and companionship.
Unlikely as it seems, the mobile phone and mobile data networks can help combat loneliness. A mobile phone is a ready-made connection device. It connects you to other people, not just by voice or text, but with modern data networks, you can see the person you’re talking to.
Having a reliable mobile device with a dependable and robust data connection, you can connect more easily with your loved ones, make video calls, exchange messages, pictures and video to maintain connections that might be difficult otherwise. Knowing that you’re only a button press away from speaking to a loved one or friend can be reassuring, but what if that isn’t the answer? What if you’re lonely and feel that there aren’t people you can connect with easily?
Alongside the obvious apps available to connect us to loved ones and people we already know, like Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp and Messenger, there are a growing number of apps dedicated to addressing feelings of loneliness.
A number of new services have been created in recent years like HearMe, specifically to provide support for people who are going through a rough time on their own and to alter the traditional social media paradigm. Mainstream social media can leave you with an artificial, saccharine-like sensation. Many people feel that traditional social media channels like Facebook and Instagram lack authenticity and genuine interaction making some people feel lonelier, and HearMe tries to address this.
Other mobile apps like Happify seek to provide information, games and tools that fit with your lifestyle to positively affect your mental health and help you form new habits that could assist in combating loneliness.
Some apps like Meetup take a more direct approach, providing listings of groups and events where like-minded people can explore their hobbies and interests together.
The handset or tablet you carry around can be a gateway to so much more than just the usual work or social media stuff. It could be the thing that changes your life for the better.