We use apps to play games.
We use apps to check our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds.
We use apps to read the news.
None of these apps makes us a better person or improves our relationships with those we are close to. In fact, it might be argued that if we are using these apps on our phone, it is probably distracting us from engaging with those around us.
There’s no doubt we’ve become a little more disconnected with each other, and there’s no doubt that sometimes we forget to do the little things that make for relationship success.
Wouldn’t it be nice if an app could help us with that?
Welcome to Monaru, an app that promises to do just that.
I discovered Monaru from reading Michael Frank’s Wall Street Journal story about it, and it seems pretty impressive.
Monaru—Irish for “manufacturing”— is a full-service A.I. assistant that examines your life and closest relationships, and then sends you tips to engage in these relationships more smartly and considerately. The service costs $20 per month.
The process starts with a brief phone call (about 15 minutes) during which you describe the important relationships in your life. In Frank’s case, this involved sharing details such as his wife’s appreciation for shared time—evening walks, traveling and communal cooking—as well as his mom’s love of Scandinavian murder mysteries. You also decide how much time you want to set aside to invest in these relationships each day, week, and month.
Based on this information, Monaru will begin to create reminders, recommendations, and gift suggestions, as well as putting time on your calendar for engaging with the people closest to you.
Monaru will also ask questions—like, “Feeling spontaneous?”—and guide you to find a small gift, make a call or “spontaneously” surprise someone with a night out. It might ask, “Who are you thankful for?” and nudge you to reach out to someone you haven’t seen in a while.
Here are some of the examples of successfully using Monaru:
- a recommendation offered by Monaru was for the user to pick up a copy of Jo Nesbo’s “The Bat” in advance of his next visit with his mom.
- Monaru suggested to another user that he take his brother to an impressively appropriate event at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens, in which visitors could wander the shrubberies looking for hidden pianos to play together. The app was aware that his brother had moved to the city recently to study classical piano, so its suggestion was near perfect.
- Monaru suggested that a young tech worker send his non-techy grandparents a card, via the online service Postable. The worker was able to do everything from his desk. He didn’t have to get up and go find a card or go to the post office.” Soon after, his mother texted him a photo of his grinning grandmother holding the card.
Monaru offers some research to support the value of the services it offers:
- Humans can only maintain about 150 relationships. The same research found that we need 20 deep connections and 5 who you could rely on in a crisis. The average American only has 2.
- Constant availability gives the illusion of connection. Online shopping, on-demand streaming, and working from home all corrode opportunities for human interaction. Millennials are four times lonelier than seniors.
- Human connection, a sense of belonging and community is the strongest determinant of a persons wellbeing. How we live defines how long we live. Neglecting relationships is as bad for your health as 15 cigarettes a day.
I do not have any direct experience with using Monaru, but it sounds like quite a useful app, and better for me than the constant checking of my stats.
The app comes with a seven-day free trial, which can be found at monaru.
The only thing I don’t get about the app is its name – not sure what it has to do with manufacturing…
*image from Monaru