Miranda July wants you to talk to strangers. Don’t panic, it’s not quite as terrifying as it sounds. The multi-hyphenate singer-actress-filmaker-artist has created an app designed to start conversations between people who may not otherwise have met. The app is called Somebody and it’s a sort of stylized messaging service. According to an email release, “Texting is tacky, calling is awkward, email is old…” and the remedy to all those immutable truths is Somebody. An app that will see your message delivered by a total stranger.
The app relies on your phone’s GPS to determine location. When you send a message to a friend, Somebody will find the Somebody user and have them deliver the message for you. If there are no other users nearby, the message will just hang out in space until someone happens by to find and deliver it. Users can even designate an action to go with their message, like a hug or a pat on the back. It’s part game and part social experiment. Other apps might connect us with friends across the world, but they can also create a bubble that keeps us apart from the people that are physically close to us. By downloading the app users can opt in to the experience of being approached by strangers with messages from your friends. It’s an interesting way to break out of the sometimes isolating world created social media.
The app was created by Miranda July in partnership with high-end fashion and accessory brand Miu Miu. She also created a short film to introduce the app as part of Miu Miu’s “Women’s Tales” web series. The film can be viewed on Miu Miu’s YouTube channel for an idea of how the app would work in practice. Because Somebody required critical mass of users in order to work the artist has set up hot spots at art museums in a handful of major cities. The app’s website also encourages users to spread the word and set up their own Somebody hotspots on a university campus or at a large social event like a concert or party.