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The Story Vine: Park Slope Startup Shares Secrets Anonymously

A new website allows users to post secrets, streams of consciousness, yearnings or confessions anonymously in 600 words or less.

 

Everyone has secrets. Everyone has thoughts that they feel they cannot share with anyone for fear of the consequences.

If you were to share your deepest, darkest streams of consciousness with a therapist they may load you up with medication that you either don’t want or don’t need. People may judge if you reveal your actions, experiences or failures — which may break socially acceptable morals, mores or folkways.

If you told someone that “Demons Really Exist,” how would someone react?

After realizing the need for a safe place to say anything anonymously, a Park Slope resident created an outlet for people to share private thoughts, past actions, traumatic experiences or desires on the Internet.  

Welcome to The Story Vine: A website that’s sole purpose is to collect anonymous posts, called “vines” and have a 600-word limit, and share them with the world in 63 languages.

“These are things you can’t — or feel like you can’t — say to even your spouse, friends or family,” said Eric Gatz, the Vine’s co-founder, CEO and a Ninth Street resident. “I have thoughts that I can’t share with my wife. But we all need to get stuff off our chest and people will relate to what you write.”

Gatz launched The Story Vine with Tim Nugiel, his Chief Technology Officer, on July 10 and it has already begun to fill with stories, confessions and fears ranging from “I smoke weed everyday…” to “My panic attacks are crippling…,” which details a woman’s devastating life riddled with death, alcoholism, losing her kids and being kidnapped and raped at gunpoint.   

The vines also dip into subjects that people may be too embarrassed to say, or things they are not ready to share with anyone, like “My wife is cheating on me…,” written by a man who has only been married for three months, or, the opposite: “Relationship with someone already committed….”   

“I truly believe I have the simplest, most comfortable blogging platform ever created,” Gatz told Patch during an interview at . “Everyone can participate and everyone will be read.”  

Gatz explained that people use Twitter or create their own blog, but they do not immediately have a platform with an audience and still have a lot of work to do in order to be seen, unless you’re a famous writer or celebrity. However, if you use The Story Vine the audience is already there.

“With The Story Vine, you don’t have to worry about updating everyday. You don’t have to worry about how impossible it is to get readers,” Gatz said.

As of last week, according to Gatz, they had 300 stories, with three to eight new ones coming in every day.

The website is only text, no pictures, no videos and no ads. Gatz promised that his site will never have ads.

“Our mission is to be the first place every Internet-connected human being goes when they have something to say,” Gatz said while clicking through vines on his site.

The site uses Google Translations, so whatever your browser’s default language is it automatically translates the content for you.

“It makes the world a smaller place, and that’s the point of the Internet,” Gatz said. “There’s all these ways to communicate, but at the same time it’s making us more alienated.”

There’s one aspect of social media and most other sites that Gatz did not adopt: the comments section. You’d think that in order to connect more people with one another you’d want direct communication. But, Gatz thinks, most comments sections actually do the opposite. He thinks trolls can be vicious, especially when anonymous, and will actually deter people from revealing personal stories.  

“Think about it, someone will say, ‘I’ve never told anybody this and I don’t want to be judged by commenters,’” Gatz explained. “With The Story Vine there are no commenters, so there are no judgments.”

The entire site functions with, and is dedicated to, complete anonymity. There is no way the identity of any user can be found, unless they give their own name in the vine, which some people choose to do.

“I am the founder and CEO and I have no idea who my users are,” he explained. “Even if the FBI came knocking on my door I would have no information for them, except for what region of the world a particular user is in.”

To participate, all you need to do is write a vine and click “submit.” Then you enter a username and password (no E-mail address or real name) and your post goes on the top of the electronic pile.

The site is essentially the electronic version of a stack of paper. You read the piece of paper on top and then you flip to the next one. Gatz and Nugiel built in an algorithm that organizes the vines by topic, newness, quality, number of shares, reads and places them on the top of the stack.

Gatz, who is 36 and married with a 14-month-old daughter, said that his site offers a service that no other site does.

“I have a lot of stuff to say, but I had no place to say it. I know that sounds like a crazy statement in Aug. 2012, but it’s the truth,” Gatz said. “Regular people, who don’t have a famous name and don’t have 10,000 followers on Twitter, have no way to be heard.”

Since The Story Vine is anonymous, it doesn’t matter who you are, but rather what you say. And to Gatz what everyday people are saying about life, the world and society is of the utmost importance.

“The words users write are not crap, they have weight, they matter,” Gatz said. “The vines are not written by professional journalists, it’s everyday people, but I would argue that these vines are more important to the everyday person than The New York Times. I know that sounds crazy too, but I am not being facetious.”

Gatz said that by reading the vines “you can get a flavor or a pulse of what’s going on in the United States and the world,” he said. And according to the vines, there’s a lot of “desperation and disappointment.”

An example of Gatz’s claim that vines can be more useful to the everyday person than the news is the many posts on the economy. Although newspapers publish stories on the economy nearly everyday, The Story Vine’s posts come from people actually suffering, giving a more personal perspective to the news.

The vine entitled “The bank is trying to take our house…” is a story about how a family is being evicted from their home of 15 years after the husband got fired and was quickly buried by debt. The author blames himself: “I feel ashamed knowing my family feels I am a failure…. It’s killing me.”

The vines may not inform people with facts, like say how The Times does, but they certainly paint a true picture of the world’s current state of affairs.

“The vines are from the actual people who are going through these things,” Gatz said, explaining that The Story Vine can connect through mutual experiences. “By reading them you get a true sense of people and humanity.”

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