Social Media for Humans: An Interview with Ziarekenya Smith, Founder of Inpathy

by | Jul 28, 2021 | Detroit Designers

Inpathy founder and Detroit artist Ziarekenya Smith is on a mission to make the realm of social media more transparent. In a world where everything seems ‘perfect’, Smith is using his new app to show people that it’s ok to have both good and bad days.

Q. Can you share a little about your background with me?

“About six years ago I graduated as an advanced achiever from Full Sail University with a degree in Digital Art and Design. Although I dominated while in college, after graduating I decided that creating [digital art] was no longer providing the fulfillment I wanted out of my work. Instead of following the same routes as my peers, I decided to start searching for my path in life. It gets to a point where your work may earn you good money, but eventually, you want your work to mean something and matter outside of the compliments.”

(Photo courtesy: Ziarekenya Smith)

Q. How were you inspired to create Inpathy?

“While searching for my path I fell on hard times and felt that there was a lack of empathy during that period. I over-excelled while I was in college. I had my work featured on the University’s website, I was a semi-finalist four years straight in the Adobe competitions, and I even had Lebron James as a client in college. Despite achieving all of that, as soon as I hit a wall people stopped believing in me and started doubting me. It felt like they just gave up on me and that sparked a lot of anxiety and depression. I went to express my feelings on social media and stopped because social media is usually where you only share the ‘good times’. I saw a significant problem in the social network ecosystem which led me to create a space that would represent the human experience.”

Q. What are some problems you find with social media?

It doesn’t show a good representation of reality. Either it’s too much bad stuff being thrown at us, or it’s too much good stuff. The reason we get social fatigue is because there is no real balance between the two. Most people don’t talk about the social pressures, anxiety, and feelings of isolation that social media has caused. Looking at the landscape, we use Twitter for news/trends, Facebook for entertainment, Tender for dating, LinkedIn for business, YouTube for TV, and TikTok for fun moments – but where do you go for balance?”

Inpathy Mood Checker

(Photo courtesy: Ziarekenya Smith)

Q. How will Inpathy provide that balance?

“Inpathy creates a space that represents the human experience. It shows the highs and lows and embraces both sides without judging. It shows people that it’s ok to not be ok, and reminds them that they are not alone.”

Inpathy Messaging Platform

(Photo courtesy: Ziarekenya Smith)

Q. What was your biggest challenge in creating Inpathy?

“Outside of learning how to make apps, it would be raising funds since the average app costs 100k to make. The buy-in to get into the tech field is super expensive and you need the capital behind you.”

(Photo courtesy: Ziarekenya Smith)

Q. When you hit roadblocks with this project, what kept you motivated to finish it?

“Purpose. My definition of purpose is when you can apply your skillset and your morals to something you believe in every day. During the six years I was building Inpathy, I felt that it was the right thing to do no matter the result.”

Ziarekenya Smith in Detroit

(Photo courtesy: Ziarekenya Smith)

Q. When will Inpathy launch?

Hopefully in the fall of this year once we hit our funding goal of 250k. I’m planning to launch on iPhone first, but if we hit 1 million in funding I can hire help and get the Android version going.”

Inpathy app photo

(Photo courtesy: Ziarekenya Smith)

Q. In closing, why do you think Inpathy is going to change the world?

“Inpathy is necessary because the next form of human evolution is emotional intelligence. Right now, we are not transparent enough and too much social pressure has been created where people cannot express themselves. Social media is causing the bar of perfection to be set too high where we feel like we have to be happy and perfect all of the time. I want us to be human. We underestimate the equity in being ourselves and need to understand that being who we are has so much value. If you remove money, status, and material possessions, all we have left as humans is community, story, and emotion. Those are the three pillars Inpathy was built off of. The overall goal of Inpathy is to normalize moods, show people that we are all in this together, and give us a chance to connect on a human level.”

(Photo courtesy: Ziarekenya Smith)

Want to support Inpathy? Make a donation to the project here.

For more information about Inpathy visit the website here, or join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

What do you love most about the Inpathy app? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

By Jess McKenzie

By Jess McKenzie

Jess McKenzie is a brand identity designer from Detroit, MI. She is a self-proclaimed nerd that loves 80s movies and longs for Saturday morning cartoons to return. When she is not tied to her computer, she can be found taking random road trips and practicing landscape photography.


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