October 11, 2022

The Black-Owned App Trying To Make Social Media More Human

It’s a universally acknowledged truth that social media can do more harm than good. Even though we know to watch out for disinformation or the insidious effects of constant comparison with other people’s best moments, most of us can’t quit scrolling. 

Even Facebook’s own studies showed a link between Instagram and teenagers suffering from mental health issues. Because of this, a new social media app called Inpathy wants to create a healthier experience online.

Their answer? Asking users to post their real emotions in real-time.

The unwritten rules of social

Inpathy is the brainchild of Ziarekenya Smith. The Detroit-based founder is on a mission to change how we interact online. Smith has spoken about his experiences with anxiety and depression and how he wanted to express his feelings on social media.

Yet Smith kept coming up against the same barrier; “the unwritten rules of social are that if life isn’t perfect, you don’t talk about it,” he told TechCrunch. Our relationship with social media is incredibly one-sided and only shows the good or flattering moments.

Inpathy founder Ziarekenya Smith
Credit: Ziarekenya Smith

Inpathy attempts to rebalance social media by creating a space where we can share the highs, the lows, and everything in between. The app asks users how they are feeling and shares this status with their friends and network.

It can also provide a monthly overview to show you if you’ve been doing well or feeling low. It offers helpful suggestions such as to mediate, talk to a friend, or share how you’re feeling.

Putting human needs first

The chief operations officer at Inpathy, Kathryn Young, has 10 years of experience working in mental health. Although, she hadn’t expected to bring that experience to designing a social media app. 

“That’s how I connected with Inpathy’s mission. Because we’re trying to solve a problem that mental health is trying to solve,” Young told The Black Wall Street Times.

Since joining the team, Young has helped to secure Inpathy’s place on the Headstream Accelerator Program created by Melinda Gates. The program supports entrepreneurs and aims to foster innovation to build positive digital places and experiences for every young person.

Only 12 out of 350 applicants were selected. One of the key criteria was “impact over profit” which Young believes Inpathy embodies.

“I helped write the grant and focused on yes, this is a hard giant to try to take down social media as we see it today, but it’s all about putting human needs first,” Young told The Black Wall Street Times.

Inpathy COO Kathryn Young
Inpathy COO Kathryn Young (Credit: The Black Wall Street Times)

A socially transmitted disease

One day Young’s daughter asked if she needed to “be beautiful all the time.”

That’s when Young realized even if she wanted to teach her daughter that beauty comes from within, there were apps like Instagram waiting to teach the opposite message.

“The message I want my kid to receive and the message she will receive from the world is something I can’t just sit back and allow to happen.”

It’s what Young refers to as a socially transmitted disease. It’s commonly said that comparison is the thief of joy, but on social media, this is dialed up to the next level.

“I’m comparing my everyday life, highs, and lows, to your edited, filtered five percent of life you’re living.”

Interestingly, Inpathy isn’t asking us to step away from social media. Instead, what Young and Smith are advocating for is balance. They want the future of social media to feel more like real life, more human, and more empathetic.

If Smith and Young have their way, then undoubtedly, it will be.

Daniel Kassim

Daniel Kassim is a writer and social media specialist.