With the rise of xenophobia that has accompanied the recent corona virus outbreak as well as the many scandals surrounding the tech industry in recent years, we felt that we should do our part to help make the world a better place using technology. We set about trying to find the causes behind xenophobia and how it could be prevented, and we came across UNICEF's 5 things you can do to fight xenophobia. It mainly talks about how connecting people of different backgrounds and cultures can help eliminate negative thoughts one may harbor towards a certain group, so we set about finding a way to encourage these connections.
What it does
MeetMe is a platform that is designed to take the user out of their comfort zone and have them meet people very different from themselves. Upon signing up, users enter information such as their religion, gender, and race to the extent they are comfortable answering. Users then can specify who they would like to meet based on these same traits and can receive messages from other users looking for people like them. The idea behind this feature is that those who do not know much about Arabic culture or current events in the Arab World could meet an Arab to discuss it, enriching their global perspective. We believe that could help greatly in reducing animosity towards a certain group after a crisis. If people have a chance to interact with and meet groups they are not familiar with, they are far more likely to develop a positive opinion of that group. In addition, having a personal 1 on 1 meeting with someone allows for a genuine human connection that reading the news or studying the culture could never replicate. This personal meeting is actually one of the main points that the UN advocates for in combating xenophobia. In addition to 1 on 1 messaging, users can also create events and blog posts to help spread information about their culture/religion/identity and create a community of people who are motivated to learn as much about others as they can. This could be particularly useful in the wake of catastrophes such as corona virus that unfortunately cause fear and suspicion to develop around certain groups. By encouraging these in person gatherings, attendees will get the chance to interact with many people of a marginalized group and lessen the negative feelings they may harbor consciously or unconsciously towards that group.
How we built it
We built our entire website using react with html and css. Our server and login service was created using Firebase. Specifically, we used Firebase Authenticator, Firebase database, and Firebase cloudstore to manage all of our data.
Challenges we ran into
For ¾ of us, this was our first time working in react, so there was a high learning curve we had to overcome when implementing our ideas. In addition, none of us had met each other before the event, so we spent some time learning how to work together. Finally, all of us were working separately from each other, and some of us were in different time-zones making communication difficult.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We’re very proud of the fact that we created a working project given all of the challenges that we faced, but are even more proud of the fact that we created something that could affect positive change on the world.
What we learned
We had a lot of fun learning how to use both react and firebase to make a functional app. In addition, we learned how to work separate from all of our teammates.
What's next for MeetMe
We look to add mobile apps to our project so that users can use our service in a more current way. In addition, we would like to host our website on a server rather than host locally, but we ran into time constraints towards the end. Finally, we would like to test our project with real people to see what could be improved upon and what features could be added.