Sarah Britten
Sarah Britten

We need an app for the socially awkward

You know the feeling only too well. You arrive at a cocktail to be greeted by a terrifying knot of bodies and a hubbub reminiscent of a shed at Rainbow Chickens. You scan the scene frantically in search of a familiar face, imagining that everyone is laughing at you from behind their glasses of sauvignon blanc. It’s agony, and there’s little you can do about it.


Until now. I was excited when I first read about augmented reality a few years ago. One day, we were promised, there would be apps that would allow us to aim our phones at people and places and pull information about them. We have yet to see this, but it looks like Google will be selling their augmented reality glasses at the end of the year, and this would be a natural fit for socially awkward types accustomed to wearing spectacles anyway.

So I’m really hoping that somebody will develop an app for the socially awkward. I’m thinking facial recognition software linked to a database of information pulled from multiple sources. The app would include built in gaydar and present the user with essential data and user ratings for whoever they’re looking at. A sort of Google Glasses meets TripAdvisor. Ideally, this information would include:

• Name and job title
• Relationship status
• Suburb and car (very important in Joburg)
• Dating track record
• General usefulness for networking
• Type of drunk (happy, aggressive, obnoxious, prone to making promises forgotten when sober etc)
• Hug style (for the prevention of awkward hugs)
• Preferred levels of kinkiness (for the prevention of awkward conversations about… no, you can use your imagination)
• Warnings for douchebag, bore, lush, gold digger, letch and con artist.

Future updates would include an algorithm capable of projecting the likely trajectory of a relationship should you ever become involved with this person, ranging from one night stand, through casual dating, toxic co-dependence, sexless misery, divorce and (in rare cases) happily ever after.

Also useful would be some kind of noise filter or ability to translate the hoarse mouthings that constitute small talk in noisy places. Right now, all we have is the ability to nod at regular intervals in order to pretend that we have a clue about what the other person just shouted into our left ear, and this could lead to all sorts of trouble.

This is by no means an exhaustive least of features. Should take up be widespread, it could potentially change the dynamic of all social events in future. No more chance encounters, no more regrets, and no more awkwardness. Can you imagine?

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  • 12 socially awkward situations
    • bernpm

      Nooooo, not for me. I love the surprises, pleasant or unpleasant.
      “that Jack was actually a pleasant person (despite his looks)”.
      “that lovely looking girl, what a b*tch she turned out to be”.
      “you see that couple? they won’t last long together, see her looking at that other chap??
      “tried to touch that girl with the lovely boobs, turned out to be plastics”.
      “the whiskey was cheap plonk in a Johny Blue bottle, what a cheat.”

      Would not like to know all these little things when entering………would you??
      And what about people’s dignity and privacy….?
      All this aps would have to be rated N16 to protect our children against adult secrets :-))

    • Gumrol

      I’d buy that app!
      The free version should just be the facial recognition with name – so useful for those times when you draw a blank and have to jump through all those awkward hoops to get the name without letting on that you’ve forgotten.

    • John Patson

      Developed by Google though, so the specs will sell you an ad to enhance your penis when you look at an attractive woman…..

    • Sarah Britten

      bernpm, you raise a good point. The app would also need to specify whether the boobs are real or fake. (Gumrol, I know the horror of forgetting a name only too well.)

    • Belcar

      So…. You want an app that, when people look at you will flash “Socially awkward”? That’s going to be helpful in mixing with the crowd….

    • NATE_IV

      That’d really be something.

      I don’t know if this is too personal: it should also be so nifty that it can show the flashing, translucent pirate’s emoticon should it conclude that – after a quick scan for moods and body temperature – it may be that time of the month for the object of my fascination so to proceed with caution.

      I hope the Silicon Valley community is taking notes.

      Thanx for the great piece, Sarah.

    • PM

      Yeah, the problem then might be that the person you want to meet really wants to avoid you….and we go full circle about what we put up on our page, and what others post about us…..and pretty soon it all becomes worthless.

      Nice idea, but probably won’t get far beyond facial recognition without major lawsuits and invasion of privacy issues.

      and, of course, people will make lots of money hacking the system, so you end up with the very people you are trying to avoid anyway.

      After all, who ya gonna trust, anyway?

    • NATE_IV


      Good one. 😉

    • Oscar

      Who knows, people might end up walking up to a ‘stranger’ and saying, ‘I am X,……..

      Goodness knows where that might end…….

      Agony at a ‘Cocktail’….. I am afraid you have lost me…..

    • daemojizzle

      Daemojizzle also object to Sarah’s use of the word “cocktail”