How this teenager’s friendship app helps combat the stigma around depression

Today, digital platforms are being used to make all parts of our lives easier to navigate. From dating to shopping, everything you’re looking for can be just a click or swipe away. But for those looking to find genuine friendships, where can we go? For many users, there are few options outside of social media and dating apps.

A new friendship-based app, Real, wants to change the game.

Real is an app for social networking, aiming to connect users who share mutual interests — including a passion for helping their community, Teen Vogue reports. The app was created by 19-year-old Ocean Pleasant, who wanted to do away with social media apps’ tendencies to have users judge each other based on how they look. With that in mind, Real users have no profile pictures.

Users are able to make purely platonic connections with each other based not on how they look -- but on similar interests and a desire to make a change in their communities. How cool is that?

Pleasant says, “Your face is hidden until you match, and we also don’t have a gender filter. This sets the tone for ‘just friends’.”

With the help of friendship-focused apps like Real, there no longer has to be a stigma around looking for friends online. And that’s not the only stigma that the app is challenging. Pleasant tells Teen Vogue:

"We also want to challenge the stigma around loneliness and depression, [because] it can be really hard to meet people between work, school, and everything else that demands our attention... Real was specifically built to help you get out from behind the screen and go meet someone in person, and do something together."

The push to help reconnect users to making connections based on interests, rather than gender or sex appeal, can really help us to change what friendship looks like in the digital age.

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