New Facebook App Gives Experience of Having Alzheimer's

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Like many people, I have started archiving my life’s events on Facebook. My Facebook wall includes cute photos of my dogs, my friends’ zany suggestions using the “Word of the Day” that I’ve posted, and accounts of my geocaching adventures. Facebook also has allowed me to maintain regular contact with friends, many of whom are scattered across the United States (and two of whom currently live in Qatar). I’ve also reconnected with friends with whom I’d lost contact, as well as added friends who I’ve just met.

    But what if all this precious information just disappeared slowly right before your eyes? That’s exactly what happens when you use the Facebook app, “Sort It Out” – and it’s an important app to try. That’s because “Sort It Out” is designed to help you understand what it’s like to have Alzheimer’s disease.

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    Once you accept the app on Facebook, the app will launch and show that it’s sorting your content. Then you start getting messages that your wall posts are being deleted. Next you lose your list of friends. Then your personal profile begins to disappear. Finally, your photos become blank squares. When I tried it prior to writing this sharepost, I surprised myself by feeling like I wanted to cry as I watched everyone and everything I treasure begin to fade out and eventually vanish. It turns out that I wasn’t alone in having this reaction. “This simulation of erasing content was done to create a sense of helplessness and anxiety to drive the awareness of what happens when a person slowly starts to lose his or her memory,” Digital Market Asia reported. (By they way, if you're worried about your Facebook content, please know that the deletions aren't permanent.)

    The app was created by Grey Group Singapore in conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Disease Association (ADA) Singapore. “The app is a creative way to highlight the seriousness of Alzheimer’s,” Ali Shabaz, the chief creative officer of Grey Group Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand told Digital Market Asia. "Currently there are more than 2.6 million Facebook users in Singapore and for many it is a carefully cultivated online depository of self-identity and memoirs. Losing it would be devastating; likewise memory loss for people with Alzheimer’s is a life crippling situation. Facebook was therefore the ideal platform to launch such a campaign and digital was used in a way like never before to create awareness of the illness.”

    I think that this app is a great way to help people get a peek of what happens with Alzheimer’s disease. And the good part is that while it was developed and targeted for people in Singapore, Facebook’s global audience of 812 million people also can access it. And using it will definitely raise awareness of this terrible disease. For instance, the United States has 155 million Facebook users. Of these, 45.1 percent are male while 54.9 percent are female.  Just think about the response of that large a group after they watch their Facebook friends fade before their eyes. The largest groups of users in the United States are 18-24 year olds (24.3 percent) and 25-34 year olds (23.6 percent). I think that “Sort It Out” will help these groups understand what may be happening to their grandparents. And I think the app may also help those in the older Facebook demographics develop empathy about what their parents or spouses are going through. In addition, the awareness created by the application also may cause more people to become advocates for additional funding to support cutting-edge research, better Alzheimer’s care for those who are afflicted, and resources for those who are in a caregiving role.

  • So next time you log on to Facebook, search for the “Sort It Out” application and try it out. I guarantee it will be one application that will definitely linger in your memory!

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Published On: February 14, 2012