What a Twitter bot taught this Philly designer about loneliness - Technical.ly Philly


Sep. 23, 2014 9:30 am

What a Twitter bot taught this Philly designer about loneliness

From the creator of Online Dating Ipsum and Penn Squirrels Eat Things, comes the more somber The Lonely Project. It's part bot, part anonymous support line.

Lauren Hallden is a designer at RJMetrics who created The Lonely Project.

(Photo courtesy of Lauren Hallden)

Here’s the setup: you tweet about being lonely.

Someone, somewhere, sees that tweet on The Lonely Project, which searches for the most recent tweets that use the word “I” and “lonely.” That distant someone clicks a button and @aLonelyProject tweets at you.

It’s a hybrid Twitter bot/anonymous lifeline dreamed up and built by local designer Lauren Hallden. Hallden, 30, of Port Richmond, built The Lonely Project as part of a Penn independent study.

She built it because she was lonely.

“I was going through a period where at the end of the day I’d have checked all of Twitter and Facebook and I wanted some other connection,” she told Technical.ly Philly. “I just felt lonely and I wanted somewhere I could go and interact with other people who were experiencing the same thing.”

While it hasn’t been “as sticky” as she’d hoped, Hallden did find that people liked getting anonymous tweets from the project (instead of feeling like it was an invasion of privacy, which she worried about). In about four months of the project’s existence, the account has tweeted 1,454 times and has received the following: 496 faves, 351 retweets and 256 replies, Hallden wrote on her blog last month.


“Of the replies, only a handful have amounted to ‘hey bot, fuck off,'” she wrote.

The Lonely Project is a shift from the lighthearted web projects Hallden has created in the past. See: Onling Dating Ipsum, which generates random online dating profile text (“There’s no such thing as a typical Friday night mountain biking nothing too complicated food sleeping late, vinyl records video games bikes new friends passionate about.”); Name My Bar, which creates a random trendy cocktail bar name (we got “Torch & Cordial”); and the now-defunct Penn Squirrels Eat Things Tumblr.


From Hallden’s “Penn Squirrels Eat Things” Tumblr.

What’s the latest for Hallden?

No side projects at the moment — she’s focused on her new-ish position as a designer for Center City business analytics startup RJMetrics.

Along with RJMetrics design lead Zach Berman-Kozac, she works to make business analytics more accessible and easier to understand through design, but one of her other responsibilities is a little zanier: designing custom business cards for RJMetrics staffers, which sometimes feature personalized animal logos, like a hedgehog eating a bowl of ramen for RJMetrics developer Stephanie Liu.

(If you’re curious, RJMetrics CEO Robert Moore has a business card with a “laser shark” on it. That is, a shark with a laser on its head (a la Dr. Evil). When Hallden met Moore during her job interviews and saw that card, she said she knew she was in the right place.)

Juliana Reyes

Juliana Reyes became Technical.ly's associate editor after reporting on the Philadelphia tech scene for four years. She's co-president of the Asian American Journalists Association Philadelphia chapter and a two-time Philadelphia News Award winner for "Community Reporting of the Year." The Bryn Mawr College grad lives in West Philly, likes her food spicy and wears jumpsuits often.


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