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The ‘Shine’ Messenger Bot Sends Daily Affirmations to Boost Teens’ Self-Confidence

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Not all Facebook Messenger bots are trying to sell you something. Shine just wants to cheer you up.

At 8:15 AM on every weekday in your respective time zone, Shine sends out an affirmation designed to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Shine can send you that message either via text messages or via Facebook messenger, depending on which notification you’d rather receive. It’s geared toward teens and twenty-something millennials; TechCrunch reports that 88% of Shine’s participants are under 35, so clearly, this bot has caught on with the intended audience.

The project’s two co-founders, Marah Lidey and Naomi Hirabayashi, wanted to create a bot that would serve as both a confidence-boosting friend and a listening ear. The two told TechCrunch, “Social Media is often criticized for the role it plays in social comparisons, FOMO, or feelings of self-doubt.” The Shine bot is designed to counteract the negative and/or overwhelmed feelings that may sweep over you as soon as you pick up your phone in the morning. Whether I’m scrolling through texts or opening Facebook, having a dedicated friendly message from a robot every day sounds pretty nice to me.

The Shine messages also seem a bit … corny. Admittedly, that’s exactly the type of stuff I’m into, but I get that this form of affirmation won’t work for everybody. I think if I were still a teen, I might have been a little too jaded to enjoy something like this, but as an adult, I actually do like it. That said, I’ve also seen some relatively similar services elsewhere that might be more your speed, if the Shine bot seems too overbearing.

Here’s one example, made by a couple of friends of mine: the “Yayfrens” bot on Twitter. That bot, whose name is a cutesy shortening of “yay friends,” tweets daily affirmations and supportive phrases but won’t speak directly to you unless you start the conversation first. So it’s a little less involved in your life than the Shine bot’s morning messages.

In a similar vein, Nora Reed’s “selfcarequeer” bot on Twitter, named “queer robot,” has a much more specific supportive theme. Unlike Yayfrens, queer robot doesn’t speak directly to you or have any interactive elements that I can find, but the bot will still pepper your timeline with occasional reminders to have a glass of water, grab a snack, and so on.

I’m well-established as a total softie when it comes to my admiration for robot friends, so I love all of these designs, and I’m delighted to make their acquaintance. Do you have any supportive robot friends in your life? Care to introduce me?

(via TechCrunch, image via Shine)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).