More Connected, But Less Connected

The proliferation and ubiquitous nature of smartphones has changed the way we communicate, receive news and relate to one another – some good, some bad.

With almost one cell phone subscription for every person in the world, there’s an unsettling trend toward self-contentedness, an increase in anti-social behavior disorders, and more division among cultures and subcultures. We’ve become callous toward horrific events and even toward each other. In short, we’ve lost empathy for each other, and without empathy we lose our connection to each other and civil society as a whole.

A Mom’s Mission

As a young mother, I saw firsthand how this lack of empathy affected my children and adults in the form of “mean girls” and “tough guy” bullying. I believe that the rapid expansion of technology, and especially smartphones and social media, is largely responsible for this lack of empathy. So I did something about it.

I’m not a scientist but I wanted to find a way to incorporate empathy and kindness into my family’s life. So I started brainstorming and came up with a potential solution and a tool that can be a resource to influence positive change and also a tool for researchers who study what influences empathy, compassion, and human behaviors.

Working with a team of social scientists such as Dan Baston and Michael Olson, psychologists and technology experts we’ve developed a psychological priming app called Happego. Happego is a patent-pending app that puts smartphones to good use and helps people achieve their goals by helping shift attitudes and behaviors. A big goal many now have is to gain more empathy toward one another. Michael’s research on evaluative conditioning shows that repeated pairings presented over time can have lasting effects on automatic associations.

One such revealing study conducted by Olson, Russell Fazio (et al.) in 2006 found that linking different races to generally positive images increases positive feelings increased toward that race. Another similar study show measurable increases in the bonds of marriage (which is always a good thing).

While it may sound menacing, psychological priming is just a form of subtle mental conditioning to achieve a desired outcome. The app works seamlessly and simply, by flashing positive images for less than one second on your phone by showing people from all walks of life and lifestyles to help you achieve the goal of gaining more empathy for others. Images flash every time you wake up your phone so it doesn’t interrupt you using the phone.

My hope is to increase human connection, compassion, and empathy through a social initiative that challenges our current way of existing in the world by bringing awareness to the effects that fear, physical social isolation, and technological disconnection are having on our individual empathic systems.

The free version of Happego helps achieve the goal of increasing human connection and empathy by constant and regular exposure to people from all walks of life every time your device wakes up. With a subscription, a user can accomplish a whole range of other personal goals as well, such as healthy eating, fitness, saving more and spending less, enhancing relationships, career advancement, developing strong character traits, rekindling love, strengthening faith, and boost overall well-being – to name a few. You can even upload personal images and track your self-improvement.

An Empathy App For All

Our goal is to have a dedicated empathy version of Happego (The Empathy App) pre-installed on all iOS and Android cell phones. It will utilize kindness priming by displaying quick images every time the phone wakes up so that most users won’t even consciously notice. Through constant kindness priming of people from different cultures, lifestyles, ages, etc., the device user’s unconscious fears, prejudices, and biases will melt away paving the way for individuals to make unencumbered, pro-social and peaceful choices.

If the project is successful, empathy-building images will help increase the empathy of all smartphone users, which in turn will aid in producing a more peaceful world.

With the holidays fast approaching and inter-family ideologies as polarized as they’ve ever been, there are sure to be plenty of challenges to our empathy and personal biases.

Now is an excellent time to install Happego, on your mobile device, to start preparing for the stresses, trials, and temptations of the upcoming holiday season. Happego can help you be more thankful, resist overindulgence, watch what you eat, practice patience, and improve family relationships.

Start The New Year Right

Use psychological priming to get a head start on your goals and resolutions for the New Year. We all make big plans for the coming year. Happego can help you see them through.

Happego is the easiest possible way to change your life for the better, and set yourself up to have a truly Happy Holiday and a great New Year!

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