Not long ago the experience of speaking on the telephone with a mystery person, knowing that you might never meet them again, vanished along with teenage ham radio operators, mutually dialled wrong numbers and party lines. But now these chance encounters are surging again thanks to a smart phone ap which creates random connection between people trapped at home by coronavirus lockdowns.
DialUp, which works both on Apple and Android handsets and promises to “revive the magic of the old telephones” automatically calls its users at set times and throws them together in anonymous pairs. First launched early in 2019 it did not spread far beyond its original niche audience until this spring when usage suddenly skyrocketed from an average of 40 hours of conversation per week in February to 2,300 hours in April.
Now its California based creators, Danielle Baskin and Max Hawkins, are scrambling to manage a deluge of bug reports, pleas for missed connections and heartfelt messages of gratitude. Ms Baskin said “the loneliness crisis right now is hard to wrap your head around”…..now people who have absolutely no context who might be in totally different countries, are really bonding and connecting.”
DialUp started as a private ap between Ms Baskin and Mr Hawkins and then went public in an attempt to “inspire unexpected conversations”. In March the pair added a feature called ‘Quarantine Chat’ for people in afflicted zones, Soon, however, everyone was affected and now DialUp has users in 183 countries. (Source: The Telegraph 26/4)