Calling strangers via app: ‘Superficial contact is underestimated’ | Right away

Regular chats with strangers make us happier, according to research. Now that we are massive, quarantine chat responds to this need. The app allows you to make calls to strangers from all over the world. editor Hagar Jobse tried it out.

16-year-old Zakaria from the Afghan capital Kabul is reading the book Hippie by the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. He just told me on the phone. “But what exactly is a hippie?” he asks me. As luck would have it, the book he reads is partly set in my hometown of Amsterdam.

Next, I explain to this Afghan teenager what happened in Amsterdam in the 1960s and 1970s.

The reason this conversation is even conducted is the Quarantine Chat app. The app was created at the beginning of the locks by American programmers Max Hawkins and Danielle Baskin. The app connects you to one of the more than 4,000 users. Then you can call each other.

“Although people can still talk to their friends and family online, there is no experience of having an impromptu conversation with a stranger.”

Quarantine Chat Creator

This can be a random conversation, but you can also let them know that you want to discuss certain interests with someone, such as books, travel, or your favorite podcasts.

By letting people talk to someone they don’t know, they may feel less lonely. “While people can still talk to their friends and family online, the experience of a spontaneous conversation with a stranger is now lacking in many of our lives,” the app’s description reads.

Contact with strangers is also important for our mental well-being, it has previously been revealed Research American behavioral researchers Nicholas Epley and Julia Schroeder.

The psychologists conducted a series of experiments in which they asked travelers to talk to an unknown person, sit in the quiet compartment, or just do what they would always do. Contrary to the expectations of the participants, the people who had a conversation with a stranger on the way found the most pleasant trip.

“Only when they smile at each other in the street will your happiness increase.”

Saskia Geraerts, psychologist

“We humans really just want to be seen,” says psychologist Saskia Geraerts. That, she says, makes sense. “We are the only species that can take care of itself long after birth. If we are not seen, we will simply die.” This need for contact can be met by different people. From your partner, friends and colleagues, but also from complete strangers.

“We underestimate the need for superficial contact,” says Geraerts. In addition, this type of contact is relatively simple. “A stranger doesn’t know your little sides. This type of contact is often a boost to your ego. It is only by smiling at the street that their level of happiness increases.”