Who hasn't been down in the dumps but too embarrassed to confide in someone or afraid your confidant would only make things worse? The new service CheerUpper consoles people who reveal over Twitter that they've seen better days but may not feel up to talking about it in person. CheerUpper finds tweets expressing the sadz through Twitter's API and MetaMind's sentiment analysis API and showcases them on its website so that others can anonymously respond and make someone's day a little better.
When you arrive at CheerUpper's homepage, it gives you the option to view a tweet and type a response. Once administrators deem it sufficiently positive, those responses are posted from CheerUpper's Twitter account. It also invites you to tweet with the hashtag #cheermeup if you'd like CheerUpper's volunteers to come to the rescue.
In addition, the site displays recent tweets CheerUpper has addressed, which run the gamut from a high school student nervous about prom (aww, been there) to someone having trouble getting back into exercise (I feel you) to the victim of a hat theft (what a jerk!) to something mysterious called "3ds" breaking (can't say I relate, but hope that situation works itself out).
With a similar crowdsource-your-mental-health concept in mind, MIT researchers are currently developing a platform called Panoply that teaches users how to challenge negative thinking. When a member of the social network is experiencing negative thoughts, they can write them down and have other members respond with encouraging messages to counteract them. A corresponding social media app, Koko, is also in the works.
Is seeking anonymous guidance from the Internet a healthy way of dealing with your feelings? It's probably best to talk to a friend — or a therapist if the problem is severe — but an additional nudge from some nice anonymous people can't hurt, and sometimes strangers are the most objective advisers. Even better, maybe as more people tweet "#cheermeup," mental health issues will become less stigmatic and more people will feel comfortable asking for help — whether they're using Twitter, text messaging, Facebook chat, telephone, or whatever medium suits them. We're all in this together, after all.