Toronto woman creates anonymous audio service to help the socially isolated
There's no question that the pandemic has taken a massive toll on mental health and left many people feeling extremely socially isolated, especially as prolonged lockdown orders in Ontario have kept residents at home and apart for months on end.
The psychological impact of not being able to simply catch up with a friend or talk to a loved one cannot be understated, and that's why one Toronto woman decided to start a business that provides conversation and comfort at a time when so many are longing for just that.
Cuddle Voice, founded by Miela Monsoon, is an audio service where people can sign up to have non-sexual, anonymous conversations for anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours.
"It is a platform for anyone and everyone to speak anonymously without judgements or questions asked," Monsoon told blogTO.
"It is not a therapy site as I am not a therapist. I made this as I saw the need that sometimes people just need to talk to a stranger to feel better, especially during this pandemic when we're stuck indoors without much human contact."
The paid service, which launched in mid-December, asks anyone interested to fill out a form with basic information, and participants can later indicate if there's a specific topic they want to discuss during the call.
Callers can also choose to just have a general chat, and each participant is then paired with a "relaxing soothing female voice."
"Although my business just started, I've had instances of people sharing their struggles and tears with me," Monsoon said.
"I've had those who live alone tell me that I'm the first voice they've heard in months. Most people are in a state of struggle of the mind and just need to talk out with a stranger without being judged."
Monsoon told blogTO she has had some trouble with the perception of the business, as people often tend to assume it's an erotic phone line, which she said "it absolutely is not."
"The concept of audio cuddles is to comfort the other person like you would via non-sexual touch therapy," she said.
A 30-minute Cuddle Voice session costs $37 while an hour-long conversation will set you back $72, so it's certainly not the cheapest way to cure the loneliness you may be feeling.
Still, it's a creative solution to an indeniably urgent and dire issue facing so many people right now.
And to ensure full privacy, the audio calls are done through online platforms such as Google Hangouts rather directly through the phone.
"Social connection is more important now than ever before," Monsoon said. "There are some great communities online related to your hobbies, and then there is Cuddle Voice too where you can control your interaction without feeling like you owe something back."
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