I know Amber via her kind and helpful Twitter presence (I *think* @Iano introduced us). So when she launched a recent Kickstarter for Aloe, a self-care app, it felt right to jump in and support her. As the project gained momentum I was surprised by two types of reactions: first, the large number of teens who really were into the idea, and second, the harassers who belittled the concept. As a friend, and now Aloe backer, I wanted to learn a bit more about Amber and Aloe, so Five Questions.
Hunter Walk: Besides the holder of an awesome name, who is Amber Discko?
Amber Discko: Professionally I’m a freelance digital strategist who most recently worked on the Hillary for America campaign, a creative strategist at Tumblr, and fun fact I was the community manager for Denny’s Diner back when it was innovative for a brand to be good on Twitter. Personally? I’m still figuring that one out. I live in Brooklyn, NY with my cat @ScotusCat and partner. I’m a huge fan of using social media to create social change and filling my followers feeds with wholesome memes and positivity.
HW: You spent a few years working at Tumblr. What was your gig there and what did being on the inside teach you about how people were using Tumblr?
AD: I was on the creative strategy team there which involved helping brands understand Tumblr and all the wonderful communities that make it so special. I’d also sometimes go to different agencies to talk about using the Tumblr platform and working with its creators. Talking about these communities constantly and seeing how they interacted and grew was really cool to watch. It definitely made me feel like I was witnessing something unique.
HW: Should platforms like Twitter or Facebook take stronger stances on harassment and hate speech or is it too slippery a slope to centralize this type of judgment instead of giving users the tools to moderate their own experiences?
AD: Yes I do believe social networks have a responsibility to protect its users from harassment and hate speech. As someone who was a target of online harassment for many years, the self moderating tools are nice to see. It just sucks that they allow people to cause so much pain to others. It would be nice to see more action and holding people accountable versus just making the community do the work. The people at the top of these platforms shaped their communities and allowed hate and harassment to thrive, it’s their responsibility to make it better if they truly care about their users.
HW: I backed your Kickstarter for Aloe, a self-care app. What’s the origin story behind the project?
AD: Thank you so much for backing!!! Long story short, I was not taking care of myself while working on the Hillary Clinton campaign. I realized that I kept forgetting to do basic tasks like drink water, give myself a break from the news cycle, and even eat. I created a self-care survey tool which I used to help me check-in with myself at various times throughout the day by setting alarm reminders on my phone. It was the only thing that seemed to be working for me. After the Inauguration, I decided to share my tool and start building this new community around a topic that is so important, especially now. I noticed a lot of people were using the check-in tool on mobile, and I kept getting people asking me for an app, so it only made sense.
HW: Since I follow you on Twitter, I’ve seen you RT a number of teenagers who seem really excited about Aloe, why do you think it’s connected with that demographic so intensely?
AD: Growing up I always felt an intense pressure to be “normal” or “fit in” and in return was always too hard on myself for how hard it seemed to be this way. I would have loved to have had a pocket cheerleader encouraging me on days that seemed extra hard. There’s so much pressure to be online and using social media, so having an app to remind someone to take a break when they need it is proven to be something that works. Since bringing this idea to life, hundreds of young people have come to me expressing how much they love Aloe and how excited they are for this app to come to life.
The reality though is that these teens can’t afford to back this app. That’s why I’ve made it so people can donate their beta ($30) or alpha tester ($60) account to someone in need. After the campaign ends I’ll be matching people with a sponsor and it will be really wholesome and good for all.
Thanks Amber! You can follow her on Twitter.