In an age where social media is at an all-time high, but empathy is at an all-time low, people today are afraid to express themselves…even in the most intimate of ways. Unfortunately, social media has become an ego-centric tool that has stifled the millions of stories that need to and should be told to the world.
Hollywood actress, Ivana de Maria recently launched her newest endeavor, Storyplace, a storytelling platform that aims to give a voice to ordinary people with extraordinary stories.
GritDaily News sat down with the producer and entrepreneur for an inside glance at her newest launch.
“Social media and empathy don’t exactly go hand-in-hand these days…and social media can be a powerful tool, if used responsibly,” De Maria told us.
No stranger to telling her own stories, De Maria helped produce “Monarca,” a Spanish-language telenovela show, alongside actress Salma Hayek, which centers around the corruption and scandal of a family-run Mexican tequlia-empire. The series was picked up by Netflix in 2018.
De Maria also stars in Univision’s hit telenovela, “La bella y las bestias.”
De Maria’s inspiration for creating Storyplace couldn’t have come at a better time, as the launch quickly followed the data breach scandal last year involving Facebook.
The actress envisioned a space where anybody, regardless of what industry they are in, could come together and share stories that, at their very core, share common values.
AR: What inspired you to create Storyplace?
IDM: It’s been a really interesting process—from learning the technology side and understanding how people want to share stories, to learning how to encourage users to grow comfortable with sharing their stories, while bringing down the ‘ego’ that often takes control of those stories. The end result is showing an ego-less approach to story sharing.
How You Can Share Your Story
Storyplace’s goal is to connect the everyday person to one another through life anecdotes using the platform as the primary medium.
“We strive to create solidarity, philanthropy, culture, and connection,” De Maria emphasized.
Users are able to post their stories on the platform by creating an account under an anonymous pen name. Stories are then filtered and sorted by topics (e.g.—love, food, health, etc.) and are then further labeled into more specific sub-topics (e.g.—heartbreak, veganism, body positivity, etc.).
The user is then able to browse and select stories related to their topic of choice.
According to the platform’s founder, the purpose behind it isn’t about managing your followers, so if you’re looking for that following count, you won’t find it.
Instead, users are able to communicate textually through a private inbox. This allows individuals to further connect with each other—whether it’s to show solidarity, to offer assistance in some way, or perhaps, even to turn a story into something much bigger.
AR: What has your experience been with on-boarding people or convincing them to become comfortable sharing their stories?
IDM: Teaching the importance and value of story sharing has been a big part of on-boarding people to this project. Once they understand that, you do have the power to shape your own industry.
[…] I think everyone has been very curious about physically creating an account. The question is how do you get them to write a story? Our research has shown that many people want to share, but don’t know how to write it. For that very reason, our platform doesn’t require you to be a proficient writer.
[…] But, the toughest part is convincing users of the importance in sharing their story.
AR: Is there any particular story or genre that generates a strong popularity on the platform?
IDM: When we started designing our mobile app, our biggest question was whether we were going to curate or filter stories/content. I was very determined to not do this because more than not, empathy comes in different aspects.
[…] Part of the reason we are having difficulty today as the world is building this empathy is because it truly requires the person to separate listening from agreeing. I think this is a skill we need to develop because at the end of the day, it is a tool that will result in bigger empathy.
If you take two sports teams for example, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. You take a huge fan from each team and ask each of them how their love for their team started. In the core of their stories, there is probably a common value—love, family, etc. Both stories, while resulted in different perspectives, are born from a shared value. This is something I try to explain to people when it comes to storytelling.
Millennials, You Too, Can Create Value
According to De Maria, social media today, while a powerful tool, has become a very ‘ego-centric’ tool.
“For future generations, social media is at an all-time high and empathy is at an all-time low. In reality, these two things should have gone hand in hand, but somehow they went in opposite directions. It has presented a huge problem, because social media has a huge opportunity and a powerful tool if used responsibly.”
IDM: This application is meant for everyone, but a part of the reason I wanted to create this was because of the amount of content available to different generations. We are more and more, searching for meaning and truth. I think people are tired of seeing content with no substance or superficial meaning, e.g. quitting a huge company that provides stability and benefits, just to be part of a start-up because it represents a value they really care about. We are looking to impact the world that means something more than just content.
[…] But, the content has turned these outlets into an ego-centric tool. Our vision with Storyplace is to have it promote positive mental health and expression. Everyone has their own story and that’s okay.
Every story has a lesson to teach us, and every individual is made up of a million stories. What’s yours?
You can download StoryPlace in the Apple App Store.