With hello, the world is your neighborhood

When I first arrived in the United States as a bright-eyed PhD student at Stanford, one of the things I missed most about life in Germany and Turkey was the community of family and friends that I left back home. I remember my favorite thing about my childhood was the open-door policy we had with our neighbors: if we were passing by a neighbor’s place, we’d always stop in to say hello. If our neighbors were home, they would invite us inside to catch up and chat about what was going on around town and maybe even tell us a little bit of gossip. When our neighbors stopped by our place unannounced, we made sure to do the same for them. We always had tea, coffee and snacks ready for visitors. We welcomed in people from our community, and I think that kind of openness and generosity was what made our community so strong.

I’ve started to realize that real life connections don’t come from the amount of likes we receive, or the number of friends or followers we have online. Our best connections are our communities, and they come from the conversations we have and the experiences we share with one another in the real world. As we spend more time online on social media, we are spending less and less time actually connecting with each other. We are becoming more afraid of engaging with each other in the real world. Sadly, it seems that technology has made us lonelier, unhappier and more disconnected from real life. Think about it: how many times have you been standing alone, say, waiting for a friend to arrive to meet you at a cafe or on the subway going to work, and instead of chatting with the host or the bartender or someone standing next to you in the subway car, you hide behind your phone?

Sharing is how we connect with each other. It’s how we develop trust with each other and dissolve the walls we put up between us that divide us. I believe with all my heart that technology should connect us, not divide us. It should serve our communities, not get in their way. That’s why I’ve created a new social network, hello. hello is the first social network built on loves, not likes. It’s a place for you to explore your world online and off. When you sign up to create a profile on hello, we use your location and your interests to help recommend friends nearby. Your hello profile page is always open so that the people around you and the people who share your passions can reach out to you and connect. We’ve designed hello so that connecting in the app is as easy as saying hello to your neighbors in the real world.

Opening doors is what builds communities. I want us to wake up each morning with the hope that with a little bit more friendliness, we can build a better online world. I want us to build a social network that feels just like my neighborhood in my childhood back home, a neighborhood where we support each other no matter what life brings our way, a neighborhood where we feel comfortable sharing all of our lives joys and riches with each other and where we can make new friends and discover new passions together — a neighborhood where we never draw our window blinds down and lock our doors.

I know we can build this neighborhood with hello. Together, we can change the way technology connects us all, and create a beautiful new social network for everyone around the world.

Stay beautiful,