My Whatsapp advent calendar

After my relatively negative experience with a mobile mental health service I had an idea of my own. Especially after a friend recently opened up about his challenges with mental health. Since it was December 1st I decided to create my own Whatsapp advent calendar*.

Using Whatsapp’s ‘broadcast list’ feature, I sent 16 friends of mine the first post. I only chose 16, because I was worried that more would be too difficult to handle.

Here are the messages I have sent so far.


December 1st:


December 2nd:


Now everyday until the 24th I will come up with a new positive post every day. My plan is for the messages to share happiness, boost confidence and reduce isolation. Giving tips and positive thoughts without being preachy!

This is an experiment. So I will see how the next few weeks go and maybe I could broaden it at a later stage! Learnings to follow!

* I assume the concept of advent calendar is pretty universally understood, but check here if you’re confused.

Send ‘HAPPY’ to 12345

Last weekend I saw an ad on the train about getting free mental health advice via SMS. All I needed to do was to send ‘TIPS’ to a shortcode.  I decided to sign up for two reasons:

1 I am quite a typical A-type neurotic millennial living in the big city. Stressed out is my default.

2 I am interested in mhealth (mobile health) and I was curious about the service itself.

So I texted TIPS.

And then nothing. Nothing happened. I checked my phone 4-5 times within the following hour ( I’m disillusioned about my phone habits, it was probably closer to 20 times). I didn’t get any confirmation that I had signed up. This was Saturday.

Monday morning I receive this text message. In the meantime I had completely forgotten about the whole thing.

Monday text.jpeg

I end up getting a text message every day..


until Friday I get this one.


And I’m like…


This was all a fundraising trick. I thought they were out to help me but instead they sneakily acquired my number, gained my trust but all they wanted was my money!

Don’t get me wrong, giving to charity gets a big thumbs up from me. However, I want to be part of the process. I don’t want to conveniently get something for free and then I am suddenly asked to give money. It’s comparable to the cards, coasters and pens I get from charities before Christmas. They send me free stuff I never asked for and then ask me to donate. Two things happen then:

  • I don’t want to donate anything because I feel blackmailed
  • I feel guilty for not giving and for the waste of stuff on me, but I cannot give into blackmail and now all I remember is that charity making me feel guilty!

When I got the final SMS, I felt tricked and foolish for believing that the service was there to help me.

Overall, I learned two key lessons:

  •  Feedback is not optional. It is essential to any service operating in this day and age, especially in relation to technology. How often do you pay attention to the ticks (Screen Shot 2016-12-04 at 08.33.21.png) on your messenger app ? This kind of feedback makes me feel satisfied and in control.
  • Don’t make an mhealth intervention a gimmick. I seriously believed that these text messages were going to make me feel better. They didn’t really and by Friday I understood why. They were sent by the Marketing department. There is a place for such interventions and when there are real people with real expectations on the other side, it’s dangerous to put it out without a comprehensive plan behind it.

Anyway, at least it encouraged me try my own little mood booster service. More on that later!

+ SocialGood UK: Adjusting to the rise of the millennial

On Friday 27th March the UK’s digital media enthusiasts came together for +SocialGood UK, a conference on how digital media and technology can be used for social good. The set of panels and conversations focussed on how this can occur both in the UK and around the World.

The topic of +Socialgood is very broad and good on the organisers (Mashable, the United Nations Foundations and BT) for getting speakers on a wide variety of topics and aspects of social good creation. Sadly too little time was available for questions – luckily we have the Internet and #2030NOW to keep us connected!

I won’t do a full recap of what was being discussed. Here are just a few overarching thoughts the discussions and presentations provoked in me.

At the heart of +SocialGood UK were millennials, how organisations, companies and political powers will eventually adapt to their needs and demands and how this process will to a large extent be underpinned by the importance of authenticity.

Millennials are shaping how the Internet is being used, especially through their, sometimes excessive, use of social media. For example, Joanna Geary from Twitter talked about the research they had done into elected politicians’ use of Twitter, which showed that nearly 80% of them are actually on the social network. However, if politicians are on a network that doesn’t mean they are also using it well – similar to the CEO of a company who decides they should ‘do twitter’ without thinking much about how to engage with the twitter crowd – many of them millennials.

Rosie Warin from Global Tolerance presented some of their research on what they call the “values revolution” looking at how many people care more about the fact that their job is meaningful than their salary – 44%. As much as 36% said that they would work harder if their company benefitted society. Even though these statistics say more about how people would like to see themselves rather than how many people have actually chosen meaning over salary, the interesting part of this research is that for millennials the stats are higher, 50% and 53% respectively. A sign of the ‘values revolution’. In the coming years, companies will have to pay more attention as to how they are giving back to society. It will be more than simple ‘philanthropic box-ticking’ – it will be about being an authentic organisation for which social good is weaved into the organisational structure.

The same applies to products. The ethical dimension of a product has become an important factor in customer decision-making. Global Tolerance found that 31% of people would pay more for ethically sources products, this number goes up to 38% amongst millennials, even though their age may also mean that they have lower purchasing power. With the rise of the millennial, we can expect a further increase in the shift towards ethically sourced products we are already experiencing. On that note, there is an interesting video by philosopher Slavoj Zizek*, who talks about the feel-good effect of ethical sourcing and the capitalist system. I think the video makes it clear that being satisfied with the value revolution isn’t enough, especially when it’s unclear whether it is actually changing the way our products are produced or whether it is reinforcing an existing capitalist system.

When it comes to the needs of the younger generation, BT CEO Gavin Patterson gave quite an interesting keynote speech launching the extension of BT’s initiative to teach primary school students coding skills. Knowing little about the subject, I was under the impression that “young kids these days grow up speaking HTML and Python as second languages, rather than French and German”. Patterson emphasised how young people are tech consumers –but they aren’t all tech literate. You can’t deny that coding is hugely encouraged in the UK compared to other countries. The UK government has been a firm advocate of increasing tech literacy amongst young people. This however does not mean that enough is being done – a number of teachers don’t have the skills to teach tech literacy and not all students have access to classes that really help them understand and engage with the technology.

Belinda Parmar from Lady Geek also made the critical point of the digital divide between genders. A particular quote of hers was from a girl student in a secondary school who stated she would rather pick up rubbish for a job than work in technology. Although I feel that statement doesn’t give credit to the men and women working in rubbish collection – it also shows that technology still isn’t cool amongst young girls – despite the efforts the fashion industry has put into the ‘geek chic’. This is a problem. 17% of UK tech jobs are held by women and a mere 23% of degrees in engineering, manufacturing and construction were awarded to women between 2000 and 2011. So it’s great to see organisations like Belinda’s trying to polish the image of tech and working in tech for young girls and to women. It has to be noted however, that the women probably outweighed the men in the audience at +SocialGood UK.

All in all, +SocialGood UK was an interesting eclectic day – I definitely didn’t touch upon all the points that were discussed – but you can find out more about the #2030NOW conversation here and on Twitter.

* Special thanks to Chris for introducing me to Zizek!

Are tech gadgets only for men?

Judging from these two ads, you could definitely think that – 

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Nosh Video

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Galaxy Gear Video 

When looking at these two ads separately, you may not think much of it – they are funny ads both targeting men.

However, when you put the two example next two each, commonalities appear:

– Women are only in secondary roles – they are to be dated and to be pursued.

– The women never get to interact with the app or the smartwatch – I guess a woman does not want gadgets – they may be just too complicated for her…

– Also, these ads remind us of how superficial women are: Terrible food over dinner will lead to the end of a date (not actually the personality of the man). We are supposed to be impressed by a guy’s use of gadgets… and chose our partner on his ability to create a moment, because dating a loser who drops his glass is not possible?!

But I’m glad to read that we are now being thought of:

Designing The Next Generation of Wearables, with Women in Mind.