We're mostly 'Alone Together,' but some apps bring new audiences together for the first time

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 0:16 AM

"Everyone is always having their attention divided between the world of people they're with and this 'other' reality," Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together, shared with Bill Moyers -- and that was nearly three years ago.

We're mostly 'Alone Together,' but some apps bring new audiences together for the first time

Technology'south fixed presence in our lives certainly seems to indicate that we're not present in one another'south lives. "Everyone is always having their attention divided between the world of people they're with and this 'other' reality," Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together, shared with Bill Moyers -- and that was nearly three years ago. Turkle'south work on the subject of technology and its role in our lives certainly spurred a dialog, but inevitably, it didn't cease the momentum of technological advances and their interference in our physical, social lives.

Today, this theory moves beyond acceptance of interference and into a territory of mild shame and/or light addiction. A recent study by the Pew Research Middle found that eighty-nine percent of cell phone users cited using their phones during the latest social action or gathering that they attended. Moreover, eighty-two percent of adults reported that their cell phone utilize damage conversation in social settings.

With phones pulling us far from each other and the present moment so often, are there any mobile advances out there that still empower a physical interaction or the slightest preservation of the past? Although there is a macro-level issue at hand here, it'south worth naming a few services that present a silver, albeit micro, lining.

First, there are the more obvious sites and apps love Meetup or Grouper that are a natural starting point for anyone who wants to crack through their consolation zone, meet new people (in the flesh), and rally around similar interests. Then there are the more unique approaches that blend a component of the fading past and the rapid nature of present day technology.

One of these old-meets-new services is an app called Felt. As it'south title suggests, there'south a level of human empathy required to utilize the tool. The premise is simple: Felt allows you to create and send your own handwritten cards. "We're trying to balance out today'south communication. Nearly all of it's currently going through email, text, and chat," says the company'south founder, Tomer Alpert. "Felt let'south you create that special impact you wish for birthdays, thank you's, and holidays."

As a enormous fan of handwritten letters and cards, I was doubtful that this service could duplicate the sentiment -- but gave it a shot when I'd an opportunity to send a thank-you note to a companion and opted to send a photo card. The whole process doesn't get more than a few minutes (not including your personal message-drafting time) and the result is a tasteful, well-designed card. I was curious to hear if the service has impacted its users or changed behaviors and discovered that it'south actually become a game-changer for some unexpected use cases.

"Felt'south been used in super special moments," says Alpert. "A youthful girl who hadn't spoken to her mom in ten years broke the silence using a Felt card, a man with MS sent his wife their first like letter, and someone sent their dad his one-hundredth birthday card using the app."

Although it'south going to get a lot more to create a dent in our culture'south lack of in-person moments, technology might bring individuals into more intimate moments for the first time, as shown by the man with MS -- and I think that'south a silver lining we can all get behind.

We may be alone together, but at minimum we're still honoring the tradition of sending a thoughtful note to loved ones.

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