Designing a Cell Phone Application that Promotes Empathy.

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person holding iphone showing social networks folder

The dark side of cell phone applications

There are over three million cell phone applications available for consumers, and many of those apps are social media companies. While many social media apps allow people to engage with one another simply, there is a sickening evil happening through technology. Many people have lost the art of interacting decently.

It’s become an accepted norm in America, where anonymous people pepper posts with disregard, often posting downright nasty comments. You can’t post anything anymore without internet trolls waiting to post disgusting comments. Social media apps have become a haven for hatred.

It’s almost as if people forget there are human beings behind the device.  Just recently, after Ohio State suffered an unexpected loss to Oral Robert’s in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, trolls came out in full force. 

Sophomore E. J. Liddell became the target of hatred. Users wrote: “I hope you somebody shoots you in the ya fr bruh you is a f****ing bum.” Another user included, “Don’t ever show your face at Ohio state. We hate you. I hope you die. I really do.”

A screenshot of E.J. Liddell’s Twitter Acount.

E.J. Liddell, Top Scorer

From some perspective, E.J. Liddell is a college student who lost a basketball game. He’s not the United States President, no one died from the loss, and the world is still spinning after the loss. I don’t understand how some people can be so insensitive. Instead of promoting hatred, I’d love to see people celebrate his accomplishments. He was the best player at Ohio State, scoring 10 for 15 (66.7%). The rest of the team went 19 and 52! 

Screenshot from Adam Jardy, reporter for the Columbus Dispatch

People offer Support

E.J Liddell took to Twitter to share with people the hate he was receiving, and almost instantly, something unique happened. People started coming to his aid and left comments that were so supportive and heartfelt. 

This story hit me hard. E.J. Liddell is young, and could have been a student of mine. Seeing this support grow real-time got me thinking, why does positivity only come out after darkness takes over? Why can’t we just all practice empathy, kindness, and positivity all the time?

Users create postive messages for E.J. Liddell

We live in a Thankless Society.

Many people in this world are exactly like E. J. Liddell. They are the mailmen,  teachers,  police officers, grocery workers, and public transportation operators. There are amazing people in this world who don’t get the attention, recognition, and appreciation they deserve. People are quick to exhibit hatred towards them when things don’t go right. Why is it so hard to celebrate hardworking people? Why is it so hard to say thank you? 

This latest instance of social media promoting hatred made me think about developing a cell phone app designed to disrupt social media’s dark side and introduce more appreciation for people in this world.

Gush- An Empathetic Cell Phone App

The application is called Gush. You’ve probably have heard about how people gush excitedly about things, and I think we need more people gushing about people.

What if we could create something that made someone else’s day brighter? If we could improve one person’s day, just one, we could completely change the trajectory of their lives forever. We should be building people up, not tearing them down.

There are three aspects of this app that I’m envisioning. 

  • Create and send a thirty-second video with praise, appreciation, or admiration for someone, or something someone has done. 
  • Get your daily appreciation. Access a finite daily feed, including warm messages from across the globe. 
  • Develop a “kindness marketplace” where people can sell their skills and abilities to deliver kindness to specific people. For example, maybe someone could hire a mariachi band to congratulate someone on getting their driver’s license.

I know what people will say about this app. “Why can’t we just text or email our messages already?” If it were that simple, everyone would be doing it. Instead, people are not using technology for that purpose. By developing an app for that specific purpose, empathy has intention. I also think people will be motivated to share their own positive messages for others once they see how contagious positivity is.

Developing this concept took place with a moleskine notebook, and a G7 Gel pen. A variety of ideation techniques to develop this concept. I created a mind map, used a provocation method, and used an analogy method.

About the Author
About the Author

Drew Furtado is an Emmy Award winning filmmaker, and leader of a nationally recognized high school media arts communication department .

He develops guides and strategies for nonprofit and educational organizations to improve and grow their social media presence, website development, and communication practices that best engages audiences.

New Bedford, Massachusetts

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