With social media, we have insight into the lives of people from all around the world right at our fingertips. But as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility — and society has proven that it doesn’t always use these outlets responsibly. Mass misinformation, cyberbullying, and catfishing are just a few of social media’s darkest aspects — all of which can be detrimental to a person’s mental and physical wellbeing.
So, can a safe space for authentically expressing how you’re feeling without ridicule even exist on social media? Well, Detroit-based entrepreneur Ziarekenya Smith aims to create one through Inpathy, a new wellness app he hopes to debut soon.
Inpathy aims to change how people interact and empathize with others on social media. Rather than only posting the highlight reels of life, the app encourages transparency among users and sharing the not-so-great moments as well.
“Life is a series of peaks and valleys,” Smith says. “We go up and we go down and that’s how we empathize with each other. That’s what makes us human. No one has this reign of success, success, success all the time.”
When users open the app, they will first be prompted to complete their “daily check-in,” which involves selecting from various moods like happy, relaxed, insecure, or hurt. After that, they will be navigated to Inpathy’s community page, where users post video or audio stories sharing how they’re feeling. Unlike other social media platforms, folks cannot “follow” other users on Inpathy; instead, people can add others to their “circle” by posting text or audio replies to people’s stories, or direct messaging them to see how they’re doing.
Users can also filter which stories they want to look at based on mood tags — say, you’re feeling hopeful or jealous, you can review users’ stories with those specific tags. The app also provides daily and monthly trackers that give you an overview of the moods you’ve tracked.
“When you have that transparency, seeing people’s different moods and things like that, the likelihood of communication will raise automatically,” Smith says.
Prior to creating Inpathy, the Detroit native did freelance graphic design projects for big brands like Nike, Air Jordan, and Bleacher Report. A digital art and design graduate from Full Sail University in Florida, Smith’s work has been featured in various media outlets like Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, and Hypebeast.
Despite his successes, Smith was at a crossroads when he graduated in 2014. Like many college grads, he experienced anxiety and self-doubt while trying to figure out his purpose. He recalls wanting to express those feelings on social media but didn’t because he felt he could only use the platforms to share the good things happening in his life. That internal battle would lay the groundwork for Inpathy.
“I stopped myself because social media is usually where you only share the good times; you don’t share the bad stuff,” Smith says. “And I thought, ‘Why is that?’ … I knew things from there had to change because one thing we know is social media isn’t going anywhere.”
But Smith wants to be clear that Inpathy is not a mental health app. While the app will prompt you to meditate or chat with fellow Inpathy users when it notices your mood hasn’t been the best, Smith says the app will feature disclaimers on the app’s purpose, which is to simply provide an alternative outlet to express your feelings, connect with others, and become more aware of your own moods — not to substitute therapy or other professional help.
And to keep Inpathy a safe platform, all content posted within the app cannot be screenshot, screen-recorded, or downloaded to redistribute on other platforms. Users can also report others they believe have violated Inpathy’s terms and conditions. Those in question may be permanently banned from the app upon review.
Inpathy’s beta will be invite-only to start. Those interested in trying the beta can invest a minimum of $10 to the company’s crowdfunding campaign and will receive an email invitation to join the app once it goes live, which will happen when the company reaches its $250,000 crowdfunding goal. Inpathy will only be available for iOS at first and will later be available for Android.
For more information, visit inpathy.co