Koko Interview — Zelig

Koko is a social network for mental health and well-being.

One of the cool things about working at Koko is that I get to see a real-time feed of all the content that comes into our network.

About six months ago, a user named zelig popped on for the first time. I noticed her almost immediately. Her responses were like little zen masterpieces and she was incredibly prolific. It seemed like she could tackle any post on the app, no matter how how thorny. It was like watching an olympic athlete clear hurdle after hurdle with impeccable grace and agility.

To illustrate zelig’s talent, here’s a post that came in a few months ago:

I’m in my late 30s and I feel depressed. My friends does not understand how it feels, being left out and left behind, they keep on saying why must I feel this way? I can’t explain to them I don’t want to feel this way, I can’t control it.

And here’s zelig’s reframe:

I feel this. I’m a sieve right now. People seem to want me to be full like them & they keep trying to fill me. Like kids at a beach they don’t understand why they keep putting stuff in & it runs out again. Sometimes I’m more like a bucket & it’s easier to hold my life purposefully. Right now I’m a sieve & I do what sieves do, but then I’ll be a bucket again.

As someone who’s struggled with the ebb and flow of negative moods myself, I can’t think of any description or metaphor that’s more apt, beautiful, and (ultimately) hopeful. She is not only offering a real possibility of feeling whole again, but she’s also using figurative language to empathize in a really, deep and profound way. These things are very subjective, but to me, this is a really exceptional response. Attn Koko users: please don’t think all your replies need to look like this (mine sure don’t!).

This week, I had the great honor of interviewing zelig and asking her some questions about the app. This is something I hope to do more often. There are so many amazing people on this app. I’d love any excuse to get to know you better.

Here’s the interview:

Rob: What’s your age? (this is super optional!)

zelig: Let’s just say I saw the original Star Wars movie in a theatre.

Rob: Some of your responses are very lyrical and poetic. You do an amazing job of interweaving metaphors and imagery into a very tight space. Do you write for a living?

zelig: No, I haven’t written professionally but sometimes metaphor or analogy is the only way I can figure out how to share an idea with some of my family members. I’m sure I might have been thinking that way sometimes when rethinking.

Rob: Do you feel like this app has changed you in any way? If so, how?

zelig: My brain feels different and I communicate with my friends and family in a more productive way (mostly). We all do battle with myopic negativity sometimes, but it seems I’m able to switch to a broader view much more quickly now. My kids are reaping some big benefits as well because I’m helping them learn to generate new sides to the issues they are facing. I also find myself channeling some of the rethinkers on Koko. Under stress I might think, “I wonder what So And So would think about this”, and I imagine that rethink. I’ve got all that Koko brain power at my disposal now. So another thing that has changed for me is that I feel connected to this community in a positive way that I haven’t ever experienced on other social media. Crazy that it is all anonymous!

Rob: Where do you typically compose responses? Do you have a set time and place?

zelig: I check into the app frequently, and depending on how busy I am, I’ll read a little, up vote, and check activity. When I write rethinks I try to stop everything else I’m doing but often I’ll write some and have to come back later to finish a rethink. Sometimes rethinks I’ve been contemplating flash in my head so I may pull over in the car or stand in the produce section typing away.

Rob: For people just starting on the app, do you have any tips that could help them get the most out of the app?

zelig: There are so many ways to give and receive. Jump right in or just hang out on the app and read if you don’t feel like writing. Up vote what seems right and notice why you up voted it. Post something! It’s like a digital hug to see rethinks coming in and find there are many perspectives out there. We are all learning and practicing rethinking, so don’t worry about writing a perfect response because there isn’t one, just focus on kindly sharing another perspective. Know you are great just for being on the app, and that any time you spend on Koko helps you and others to bring new perspectives to life.