Not that I think another 3rd-party tool is necessarily the answer. If you put all your contacts in a spreadsheet or database you could use something like our gissue-freshening protocol. Adapting that to staying in touch with friends might look like this:
Create a goal called, say, “touch” or “rolodex” as a manual do-more goal that needs a +1 a couple times a week or whatever makes sense for you. You get a +1 for any of the following:
Add a new person to your contact list.
Call or send a message to the least recently updated and non-snoozed person in the list and update the description field to mention that you did so.
Snooze the least recently updated person, ie, mark them as someone you’re ok with falling out of touch with.
Oh geez, this is making me realize I need this so badly I’m going to set it up right now. Since I already have good protocols for this in GitHub I’m going to do it there. Et voila:
Still I have to disagree with the idea that seems forced. Let’s say that I have an spreadsheet with all the phone contacts I do have. Let’s say it is 500. If I randomly message someone there that I have not seen in five years, that I went to highschool with, it is quite likely they are going to ask themselves why am I messaging them out of the blue, unless I ask them for something specific. I would think that too.
Maybe creating plans could be a good Beeminder goal, but I would never like to create a plan in a mental state of “not feeling like it but “having to”” rather I would like to be creating something out of excitement!
And in social goals it happens the same as it happens with people that beemind rest or sleep. I do not think that it is the right goal, as it is an outcome. It is not like you don’t rest because you don’t want to, but rather because maybe you are busy with work - therefore wouldn’t it be a better goal to beemind stoping to work at x hour or something related?
That’s what snoozing a contact is for. If someone from high school comes up as the least recently updated contact, just admit you’re ok with having lost touch with them and mark the contact as dormant.
You make a fair point about wanting the social interactions to always be driven by genuine excitement to reach out to the person. I don’t see it that way though. You can even admit why you’re reaching out: “Hi Alice! My Beeminder goal to be a slightly less lousy friend to my friends has informed me of the lamentable fact that we haven’t talked in 3 months and this is me rectifying that! How are you?? What’s the latest with your project to build a full-size replica of the Eiffel Tower out of toothpicks?”
I have a simple goal for keeping in touch with people I was having trouble remembering to touch base with, which has been running since the pandemic started.
I now talk to three of the people I lived with at university at least once a week, and while contact with my aunts and my childhood best friend hasn’t been as frequent, there have been some good conversations as a result.
It doesn’t dictate who I should contact, so I also get a +1 for continuing with conversations that are already ongoing via async methods, for instance. It’s just… keeping the ball moving, so that I can’t look up and realise it’s been three weeks.
I’m sure my friends have noticed that I’m touching base a lot more than I used to, but I don’t think it feels forced to them or me; it’s just a little nudge that doesn’t dictate how often I contact a specific person, how, etc – so it depends on my mood, whether it’s someone’s birthday, what’s convenient, etc. I’ve sent letters, emails, texts, chat messages, and occasionally done phone calls.
Even though it’s super simple, it leads the way to a lot.
I also started beeminding contacting people, in terms of number of messages sent, and it’s just to help me do what I want to do: I have the very typical adhd/autisms/&c. experience of “oh yeah I was going to respond to X’s email from the other day wait what do you mean it was three months ago?” and it’s nice to have something that grounds that desire in concrete deadlines.
About artificiality: I think it would feel artificial if you were forcing yourself to contact people you don’t really want to talk to just because you think you should but if they’re people you really want to be talking to I think it’s fine, good even!