With the long-term impact of lockdown yet to be fully felt, there are signs of what the ‘new normal’ looks like. Take Replika, the AI chatbot helping Gen Zers to feel less lonely. As tech fulfils a multitude of needs for young people, a chatbot may be the next frontier in friendship.
Not all tech breeds loneliness. A fluffy, hamster-esque animal robot that could be mistaken for a plush toy grabbed attention at the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show. It’s designed to provide comfort and care, with the ability to differentiate between people and understand their emotions.
Playing on its reputation for friendly customer service, shoe retailer Zappos has launched a hotline where it will chat to callers about anything they want. People are watching closely as brands respond to the coronavirus pandemic, and they’re drawn to those that put people (and not profits) first.
Whether due to divorce, bereavement, or family relocation, loneliness is an everyday issue for many American Boomers. But as members of this aging cohort sharpen their tech skills, they’re being exposed to apps and devices that help them establish new connections both online and IRL.
The passing of time may bring people wisdom, but it can also bring a sense of isolation. With men often less willing to openly discuss mental health matters, the UK Men’s Sheds Association provides spaces in which older blokes can bond and build, all the while overcoming their loneliness.