The critics of social media say that rather than letting us express our true feelings, platforms like Facebook and Instagram push us to self-edit, that we are constantly on our phones posting snapshots of only the brightest parts of our day as we try to one up friends who are off on exotic holidays or at glamorous parties. Sydney startup Realifex is pushing back, asking us to use our phones to be truly honest with ourselves.
More than just a mood tracker, Realifex is a “map without a compass” that wants to help people reflect on their lives, the path they’re on, and figure out where to go next. It aims to let users understand what makes them happy and what causes them stress by allowing them to record their thoughts in the moment, as they happen, without letting time pass and their feelings mellow.
The app, available on iOS for iPhone and Apple Watch, asks users to record snapshots of their day through either typed or dictated notes. These snapshots can be grouped according to decision, experience, action, discovery, or emotion, with users asked to determine what kind of impact a moment had on them. Notes can also be tagged with contextual data such as location, heart rate, activity, weather conditions and temperature, and hashtagged according to topic, such as kids or work. The app’s analytics dashboard then helps users find behavioural patterns and other insights.
Founder Alexandre Prate, originally of France, said the idea came simply from talking to people about their lives and realising that few were actually living the kind of life they had aspired to.
“I also think that only a minority of people have a deep think about what could positively influence their life and are following their own path,” Prate said.
Prate believes that Realifex is helpful in capturing truthful emotions and moment.
“Relentless life events alter our memory. Our memory is selective and our senses are focused on survival, transforming reality for their purpose,” he said.
“When users look back at the notes they have made and they see that the hashtag #work is always associated with a negative emotion, it may be that their job is causing them too much stress or unhappiness. Therefore they need to make a choice whether to leave their current job and find something that is more satisfying for them. The app is simply to make users more aware in order to make positive changes to their life.”
Of course, there are hundreds of apps and other devices in the market which aim to help people reflect on their lives and feelings. From mood rings that detect stress to journalling apps to a good, old fashioned paper diary, there’s no shortage of ways for people to note down their feelings, so how is Realifex different?
In Prate’s eyes, the average journalling app is focused on the simple act of writing and does not have a self improvement feature, while gratitude apps which ask users to note down at least one thing they’re grateful for each day don’t take into consideration negative feelings and mood trackers are often “too simplistic”.
Realifex, on the other hand, wants to help people reflect on both the good and bad and see themselves as they truly are, as that’s the only way to lead to personal improvement. The app has a focus on privacy in order to let users be as honest with themselves as possible without worrying about outside influences – there’s no sharing statuses or check ins to Twitter or Facebook.
“Embracing who you truly are is the road to self-improvement,” Prate said. “It’s difficult to step back and review our own lives, and hard to see how we’re shaped by our life events and how we perceive each of our life events; that’s why Realifex is helpful.”
Prate self-funded the development of the app; he had begun a Kickstarter campaign to fund marketing efforts but it failed to hit its target. Since the app launched earlier this year, however, it’s amassed over 6,750 users in English-speaking markets. Realifex offers users a 10 day free trial, and then moves to a monthly subscription starting from $1.25 a month.
The goal for Prate is to make the app available in as many languages as possible in order to “gather hundreds of thousands of active users [by] 2020.”