Research validates the idea that love and support, real connection, and the ability to feel authentic and empowered are human needs which allow us to become our best selves.
Right now we are experiencing a well-documented loneliness epidemic. A recent study estimated that loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
While social media use wasn’t the only contributor to loneliness cited in the study, it was notable among them. This “social media paradox” refers to the idea that while social media has given us the means to connect with hundreds of people, it doesn’t support real connection. Instead, we use social media to make outward-facing bids for attention and then judge our worth by the number of likes and hits. Rather than make good on its promise of authentic interactions, social media can contribute to feelings of distance and isolation.
Texting is another example of a communication technology that has become ubiquitous but falls short when it comes to nurturing our most important relationships.
Texting is about speed, brevity, and efficiency. A huge part of our day-to-day interaction takes place in texts, but tone, emotion, and context; which help provide that vital “emotionally nutritious” communication – are absent. We might feel like we’re talking, but we’re really just typing.
Marco Polo is a product that could truly offer a way to have deep, authentic relationships with loved ones. We wanted to engineer a platform that would help people feel closer to each other in a way that was honest, genuine, and mutually supportive.
We now hear daily from people who use Marco Polo for exactly this purpose. As we bring millions of people together, we’re also working to get research-based findings about how the app improves social health by connecting people in emotionally nutritious ways.
A recent report suggests that Instagram is experimenting with hiding the number of likes a post gets from everyone but the person who posted it. There are also hints that Twitter is considering changes in the way they report engagement. These are indicators that others in the tech community agree that we can do more to strengthen the bonds of connection and help battle the loneliness epidemic.
Humans are biologically wired to connect. It’s only reasonable that our technology should do the same. Vlada Bortnik is the CEO & Co-founder Marco Polo.