Let’s Get Real: the Future of Digital Connection

More and more of my time over these last few months has been dedicated to something new; something that lights my soul on fire and fulfills every question and dilemma I’ve encountered as an individual over the last 18 years; here’s why.

I’ve always been a bit different. Life circumstances have naturally set me apart (being raised by a single mom doubling as a conflict journalist in the middle of a jungle can do that to a kid). Having visited and lived in fifteen countries before 13 years old, it’s fair to say I’ve moved around a lot. I especially know the struggle of a young adult trying to make connections and form relationships while constantly readjusting.

Having unique interests that didn’t always align with my peer group or social environment has also been a pain point, and often still is. While other girls were listening to Justin Bieber, I was writing my own songs; kids were going to Disneyland over the summer while I was assisting childbirths in Indonesia; volunteering in a slum school in India to empower girls my age to speak their stories; I even joined a fire and acrobatics performing troupe (that’s a long story).

Age 14 — Bhatti Mines, New Delhi; I founded a photo project to empower young girls to document their own lives, which I showcased in the U.S. to raise awareness and support for their school.
Age 15 — Worked as a midwife’s assistant in Bumi Sehat, a birthing clinic in Bali founded by Robin Lim, CNN Hero of the Year (2011)
Age 16 — My stint in a fire troupe.

While my friends were experiencing their first high school romances, I was working as the creative director of a conscious culture publication (originmagazine.com); what started as a small family business grew into four national, best-selling magazines in over 40 retail chains across the country. We were bootstrapping a startup out of our garage; I was a freshman in high school studying online so I could dedicate even more of my time.

By 17, I had founded my own national mag, dedicated to conscious culture for millennials (realteenmag.com). I had interviewed everyone from Alicia Keys, to his Holiness the Dalai Lama (we Skyped, it was EPIC).

Age 17 — the first time I saw my magazine on stands in Whole Foods Market (!!!)

But something was missing.

I had this incredible opportunity to raise awareness for issues that mattered, but social engagement was lacking; between the pages of the magazine and the readers who were inspired to do something, I still felt the need to connect people. I wondered if I could utilize the brand I had already built to make more of a lasting impact on people my age.

How I could bring people together around the aspects of ourselves that make us unique; could this be the catalyst for true connection?

The biggest challenges for me growing up were isolation, ostracized uniqueness, and a lack of resources to make those differences work to my advantage. I yearned for an opportunity where I didn’t have to fulfill unoriginal stereotypes to relate to people or pretend to be someone else. I asked myself, how can I meet people who understand me, what I’m interested in, and what sets my soul on fire? There’s a big myth about what “isolation” means, that carries a lot of stigma:

You can be wildly successful and popular, constantly surrounded by people, and still feel incredibly isolated by the lack of depth and authenticity in your friendships. Healthy friendships are so crucial to a healthy life, that the Mayo Clinic has a FAQ page for “how to make friends” — seriously.

So what are some ways that we, millennials, meet one another these days? Running startups, traveling, studying and working until 10pm every night; those aren’t exactly ideal conditions conducive to authentic connection.

The Tinder model is fantastic. Unfortunately, if you’re uncomfortable with the sexual pretense, or you’re in a relationship, it’s not ideal. MeetUp is great too, but I’m looking for more personal connection, not just activities.

I decided to create a platform that fulfilled this dilemma. A simple, yet effective way to make new friends. I couldn’t be more excited or proud to announce that the Real mobile platform is launching this spring.

Whether you feel isolated in a big city, or trapped in a small one; working or studying, traveling or moving; Real is for you. Meet new friends — make an impact.

We connect you with people in your area based on your interests and personality, featuring outreach nearby based on the commonalities of each match. Are you and Jessica both interested in animal welfare? We show you the nearest Humane Society, and make it really easy to volunteer or check it out.

Your face is hidden until you match, with common interests, coffee shops and outreach opportunities available for you are your new friends to check out.

But we also just feature coffee shops near you and each new friend, to eliminate the “what should we do and where should we go” dilemma that often occurs on meeting platforms. What makes us really unique is that there’s no gender filter; everyone is here to meet everybody else, and your face is anonymous until you match; meaning your personality and interests are what drive people to learn more about you.

It’s up to you how your interactions progress; our mission is to set the tone that best optimizes a safe space to make friends, minus sexual pretense or expectation.

While Real is for friends, never forget; some of the best relationships start out as friendships… mine did! If you’re tired of settling for friendships of happenstance, eager for a proactive tool to meet people that doesn’t require waking up in a stranger’s apartment or endless coffee dates that never pan out; Real is for you.

I cannot express how thrilled I am to be currently accepting beta users. Share your email at www.myrealapp.com if you’re interested in joining our diverse & inclusive community of people ready to start making authentic friendships.

Real app is Launching Nationwide March/April 2016 on iOS.

Like what you read? Give Ocean Pleasant a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.