Meet someone for a STR
May 12, 2014 5:14 PM   Subscribe

20 Day Stranger For me, the socially awkward type, this is so exciting and frightening all at the same time!
posted by Yellow (28 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
A bit more context, from the application page:
20 Day Stranger is an experiment from the MIT Media Lab's Playful Systems Group, and the Dalai Lama Center for Transformative Ethics. It is a mobile app that creates an intimate and anonymous connection between you and another person.

For 20 days, you get continuous updates about where they are, what they are doing, and eventually how they are feeling, and them likewise about you. But you will never know who this person is.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:24 PM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Clever! And omg hell no!
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 5:33 PM on May 12, 2014 [7 favorites]

I'm very intrigued by this and might sign up. My biggest worry is being utterly vapid and boring. I'm in a crunch period at work so the stranger I get hooked up with will just experience the intimate moments of my life... at work. And at work. And at work.
posted by naju at 5:38 PM on May 12, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'd feel bad for whoever got me. "Oh, he's having Manwich. It must be Monday."
posted by xingcat at 5:45 PM on May 12, 2014 [5 favorites]

pretty much who are my facebook "friends"... I really don't know many of them but am updated all the time every time they so much as pass gas
posted by shockingbluamp at 5:51 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is the kind of thing I'll bet you have to try in order to evaluate. This could be super freaking cool...or it could suck. (On average, of'll probably be great in some cases and suck in some cases no matter what).

I predict that this will be super cool in a non-trivial percentage of cases.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 5:58 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Only if someone does a cat diary, ala Roz Chast.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:05 PM on May 12, 2014

I do this all the time it's called being the unfortunate person who is my friend and who has followed me on twitter.
posted by The Whelk at 6:09 PM on May 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

I like how the video contains a bunch of footage of Indians throwing pigment on each other (presumably on Holi), cool people going to the beach, getting tattoos, etc.; but the app itself requires you to 1) fill out an online form and 2) have an iphone running ios 7.1 or later.

Sure, you will definitely be spending 20 days with a stranger. It just might not be the kind of stranger you were looking for. (Is that the point?)
posted by anewnadir at 6:10 PM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Cool, I've always wondered what other 20-somethings in San Francisco are like.
posted by 2bucksplus at 6:16 PM on May 12, 2014 [22 favorites]

A fun twist on "we're strangers until we meet" except through the miracle of this app's mediation we're still strangers after we've met. So that subsequently we'll regard all the unmet as less strange.

The iPhone-only requirement is kind of a tall hurdle. I typically don't associate with that sort of person.
posted by notyou at 6:19 PM on May 12, 2014 [11 favorites]

I think social media encourages ostentation over intimacy and loses out on authenticity as a result. I wouldn't mind if this replaced twitter.
posted by Hume at 7:12 PM on May 12, 2014

I think people's lives are interesting, but mostly for what they feel, what they ponder deeply, their passions. A person's location tells me nothing without context. What does "design studio" mean? Are you a designer? What do you design? Or are you the person at the front desk? This appears to be a series of photographic Facebook updates for each geographic marker in one's life. Instagram, unfiltered.

I imagine this bringing out the worst of the "grass is greener" syndrome. My routine is something like "driving/paperwork/futz around on internet/bathroom/paperwork/driving/dinner/reading", and I would not broadcast much of it. I can see someone spending a lot of time framing their routine as interesting or hip, or simply doing things for the sake of broadcasting it to a stranger.
posted by Turkey Glue at 7:23 PM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

It isn't clear that the only updates are location, etc.

I'm signing up.
posted by rr at 7:29 PM on May 12, 2014

no droid version :(
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 9:03 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

is it just me or doesn't this seem like a CIA/NSA phishing scam? or maybe it's a way for them to test new information-gathering software.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 9:53 PM on May 12, 2014

So after 20 days of bonding with anonymous, you never ever find out who they are and can't talk to them again? Is that what's going on here?

Then what's the point? People want to meet up (I hear there's even websites for it) IRL, so taking away the semi-imaginary friend just sounds like it would frustrate people.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:21 PM on May 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

"...Dalai Lama Center for Ethics..." right, important they mention that because it's not like this isn't ripe for insane levels of exploitation and abusive/intrusive behavior. And I mean on the part of the App, not to mention the people actually using it.

This is something I never really got and it's not just a 'kids these days' thing, I've had friends like this since for always - people who tell everyone around them everything that they're doing or thinking or etc. Neither bug nor feature, just who they are. I don't count myself among their number. So I can't imagine doing 'this.'

What if you got someone you slowly began to realize was a despicable person? Or what if you are yourself a despicable person though never really saw yourself that way because, you know, it's not your fault, 90% of the things you do, it's just exigencies, you know, the way shit turned out.

Serendipitous encounter on the subway every couple days? Sign me up. 20 days of 24 hour updates coming and going? Thanks but I have enough on my plate.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:26 PM on May 12, 2014

As someone who doesn't feel compelled to socially document every moment of my existence, I suspect that my anonymous partner will just be treated to a hundred photos of the dark inside of my pocket or my shoulder bag, interspersed between blurry photos of weird street art and curiously built bicycles (basically whatever it is that I happen to be snapchatting to my friends)

I also wonder how long until a participant takes a photo of a scrap of paper saying "Hello! My name is ..."
posted by bl1nk at 4:33 AM on May 13, 2014

My Manwich!
posted by petebest at 4:40 AM on May 13, 2014

What if you got someone you slowly began to realize was a despicable person?

Repeated trips to a hardware store. Constant pics of rope, duct tape, and plastic drop sheets...

And you haven't figured out who this person is, and can only hope they haven't figured out who you are either...
posted by randomkeystrike at 4:51 AM on May 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Metafilter: My Manwich!
posted by trif at 4:52 AM on May 13, 2014

Also, I kinda like this app idea. Shame it's iOS only...
posted by trif at 4:53 AM on May 13, 2014

It's a bit too voluntary. The next generation will probably measure metrics such as pulse, pupil dilation, perspiration, etc., so it can broadcast what you're feeling without you having to take any conscious effort. Similar sensors will be able to log what your activities are. They way we'll be able to get honest, unbiased depictions of what the strangers are doing.

Naturally in the ultimate version, at the end of the 20 days an online poll will determine who had a more interesting life, and the loser will be painlessly euthanized.
posted by happyroach at 8:34 AM on May 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

A side note: real bummed that they used that Colleen song. I've been trying to figure out how to use it for almost a year for a performance, since it's such an odd, unknown song that has a distinct feeling of being trapped in an eternal 50's grocery store. All of a sudden they go use it for this? YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG
posted by Philipschall at 10:09 AM on May 13, 2014

I signed up. It might be horrible, but I'm curious about how connection works and what the limits are. Can I make a connection with somebody I can't talk to?
posted by Renegade Duck at 12:20 PM on May 13, 2014

Renegade Duck, we do it here all day long, don't we?
posted by Yellow at 7:43 AM on May 14, 2014

This seems to share some psychocultural space with Secret (also only for iOS), which is purportedly an anonymous* confessional for your friends-of-friends.

*Unless, like my friends with iPhones, you team up with other people to triangulate who the secret-sharer may actually be, which: ugh.
posted by psoas at 8:08 AM on May 14, 2014

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