With Valentine’s Day now indubitably a global festival like perhaps no other – one that practically nobody can escape – and the contemporary relationship scene being characterised by epic churn, we at Mediolana felt moved by an article that our Creative Director & CSO recently came across in The New York Times on the topic of Mend, a new app and associated online community aimed at assisting people going through painful heartbreaks.
Mend (iOS launch date: July 2016) was founded by Ellen ‘Elle’ Huerta, a former Google employee who noticed – during a break-up of her own – that there was gaping gap in the app world for precisely this type of situation, while the corners of the Internet devoted to the topic were (and, we dare venture, still are) dominated by platitudes whose wisdom may only become apparent after a very long time indeed.
Huerta has correctly observed that while there is an ocean of fitness and (somewhat more tentatively) ‘brain-health’ software, vast areas of people’s love lives – beyond those pertaining to getting into a relationship in the first place – are wildly underserved. And on one level, Mend appears to be a great idea which taps into a clear cross-cultural need, having already been downloaded in over 100 countries; moreover, it certainly seems to have the backing of key players in Silicon Valley.
But after some reflection, in our opinion there is one clear potential issue with the concept: by turning such a sensitive area of human existence into yet another domain to be ‘managed’ electronically, apps such as Mend could make society overall that little bit less caring. Secure in the knowledge that there is now an algorithm to tend to their acute emotional needs, people may leave their friends in the care of a portal which can never actually be physically present, let alone listen to someone at close quarters who is truly suffering. Further iterations of Mend – an update is scheduled for this spring – must take this vital consideration into account if the noble original purpose of this technological marvel is not to be subverted.