“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Henry David Thoreau It is perhaps a fundamental truth to every psychologist and therapist in the United States and elsewhere that the fulfillment of emotional needs is basic and necessary to human well-being. Leading a rich, fulfilling life is intimately tied to being aware of ones emotional needs, and being able to meet them.
Conversely, a life with routinely unmet emotional needs is often filled with pain, manifesting itself as anxiety, depression, or violence. Indeed, many of the most virulent problems that plague human society, from drug and alcohol abuse to violent crime, may be traced to a widespread inability to meet such basic emotional needs. Two main factors seem to be at play here: The first may be called “emotional skill needs”, an awareness of emotions and the ability to manage them, both ones’ own and those of others.
The second factor may be termed “experiential emotional needs”, which tend to follow Webster’s definition of a need: “A physiological or psychological requirement for the well-being of an organism.” When one or more of these needs go unmet, the individual may suffer pain; chronic failure to meet these needs can result in severe effects. Developmental psychology studies, for example, show that babies raised in orphanages who don’t receive enough attention either die or have developmental disorders.
We believe that technology has advanced to the point that we can begin to develop tools that can help people meet their emotional needs, and that such work is important to the development of human-computer interaction. While we strongly believe that technology should never replace interpersonal interaction, humans often suffer from the lack of such contact. We see technology’s role as a tool to educate, empower and perhaps help “fill in gaps” for meeting experiential emotional needs when.