Death & Technology
“I believe that great technology has, in fact, nothing to do with technology, but everything to do with normal people doing normal things just a little bit better.”
There’s this funny trend with people who work in technology. Sure, it’s futuristic and cool, but many fail to realize that to normal people it can be scary, overwhelming, or just not that interesting.
Most of these technologists tend to speak about their products using big, intimidating words like cloud computing, geofencing, auto-sharding, and the like. But the one company who managed to make it friendly was Apple. They colored an iMac blue, made it translucent plastic, and put a handle on the top. They round off corners on both their hardware and their software. Simple, easy to use and hold, and friendly.
But that’s not really it, is it? It doesn’t really speak to your soul. Every investor and entrepreneur in Silicon Valley will beat you over the head with “What’s the problem?” and “focus entirely on that”. I disagree.
A problem is powerful when it’s so painful it feels like your arm was just broken by Steven Seagal, circa late 80s. What broken arm level of pain does Instagram solve? Viewing pretty pictures faster? Sure, it’s pinteresting, but who the hell cares? Facebook bought it for $1 billion after only a few years in existence so it MUST be brought up in every startup discussion from here on out as gold. Ugghh…
Why do you get up in the morning? Then, what do you do with your day after you get up? Two simple questions, but very hard to answer truthfully. Hopefully, it’s some fire that burns deep inside you and represents the gasoline in the engine that is your life. I don’t think Instagram or Facebook has anything to do with either of those questions.
This is a long-winded way to say that technology isn’t just about solving problems, saving time, or making things look and feel friendly. I think it should be about something much deeper and richer. Something that when you use it, you feel genuinely more fulfilled with your life. Like it has meaning and it’s valuable.
Seemingly every app that is being developed is about 2 things: basic social networking or making money on top of that social network. They’re focusing on the very surface level of human existence.
But I have to believe that there are many layers to the onion of who we are. And, if there was some technology that could cut that onion to its core, it would make you weep, not because you just cut into an onion, but because it’s the real you. Real talk.
For example, what if you posted on Facebook, “I’m thinking about suicide. It’s just too hard…” or “I just found out I have cancer.” What are people supposed to do, like it? That doesn’t even make sense. Is that supposed to make you feel better? Does that help you feel more connected to another human being? Bullshit. Surface level bullshit.
You want something raw and real, go check out http://confideapp.com. It’s anonymous so people have confessed about sexual abuse, suicide, relationships, broken trust, domestic violence. That’s real talk. Connect with someone who experienced the same pain, and you’ve got someone you can relate to for life. Or you could take a picture, add a filter to it, and pray with all your might that someone who follows you likes it. Great. Thanks.
I focus on cancer and suicide because in my life, it’s seemed to affect a seemingly HUGE amount of people that I’ve had real talk with. Close family and friends have shared real pain with me, and luckily, even though they were on the precipice, someone in their lives help them step back from the edge, heal, and move one. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t lost people so close to me that I still cry about it.
While I was celebrating at Miss Texas USA yesterday, one of my close friends was at a family reunion. While there, he heart a story that was pretty hard to follow. The father had passed away, the mother now had terminal cancer, and there are two young boys, frightened about the future. Here’s an excerpt:
A few days ago we had an incident that made Trent very emotional. He laid in the bed with me and just cried his little heart out. As I lay there with my arms around him, all I could think of was how much he still needs me here. Not having Brad is very hard on him and the thought of losing his me scares him very much. He needs his mom and he needs me to continue sharing stories about his dad. Lots of stories.So I have increased my protien and caloric intake to help my body get stronger. I have started using my walker to walk in the house to work my muscles. I’ve gotten up and taken little rides in the car and tried to change positions more often in the bed. Wednesday night I achieved my first goal. I went to a Mass of healing at St. Leo church. It was a great Mass and I felt so refreshed when we left! I would like to thank all my family who attended and would like that I pray for all the people who are praying for their own healing.Trent sat beside me during Mass. Sometimes he would hold my hand and that reminded me why I am going to keep working. Even if it is just for one more day!
I built Confide because I saw normal people with normal problems that seemed insurmountable at the time. I wanted to create a safe place for them to heal. A place where others can relate and maybe people can begin healing each other. But, it’s no where near good enough, social enough, gamified enough, powerful enough, or rich enough. But it’s too damn important to stop.
I believe we’re capable of, and need, more than just surface conversations and likes. And it’s not just about pain, but about joy as well. Those special moments and experiences in our lives that we want to share with our families.
The memories, the moments, and the wishes.
I believe all 7 billion of us are exactly the same. We just want to be understood, loved, and look back on our lives with a smile.
Let’s build something that does that, and it better be a little longer than 140 characters.
The answer isn’t in the technology, it’s actually in the analog. It’s been right under your nose, your parent’s nose, and your grandparent’s nose for their entire lives. You just need to look at it in a slightly new way.
And remember, you are loved.