Meet the mother-daughter duo who aim to make an impact by curating stories

Oct. 26, 2020, 3:41 p.m.

By:Reshma Jain

More than an incident, it was a series of events that led to the formation of Storydip. “As a kid, my mother used to often tell us stories every night. In fact, it was one of those stories (about Grace Hopper), that sparked my interest in Computer Science. A few years later, as I was learning MERN stack web development on my own, I realised that it was frustrating to find out the relevant tutorials from the vast sea of information on the internet and my mother said it had also been difficult for her to find stories for us with female leads. When I had learned enough, I wondered if I could do something to make this easier and share my storytelling experience with others”, shares 16-year-old Sonika Agarwal who along with her mother Rachana Agarwal, initiated Storydip.

Storytelling is an ageless art that is significant no matter what age humanity develops into. Everyone likes listening to stories, but it’s not without reason. Experts opine that when we listen to hard facts, only the language-processing parts of our brain are put to work. But when listening to a story, all the parts of the brain are activated. For example, if you read the sentence- ‘She threw the ball,’ the motor cortex, which coordinates motion of your brain also activates. Hence, it also gives us the ability to imagine ourselves in someone else’s shoes and allows for empathy and understanding. 

The age of IT has granted us with endless knowledge and opportunity, but without important skills such as imagination and empathy, life is incomplete, shares Rachana.

In today’s world, where we are racing against time, stories help provide the important links that are often being ignored. They help us know our culture and history. Research also shows that stories help to develop self-efficacy, presence, interest, and perception of control. In the overall growth of a child, stories can have a major impact as they face the challenges and gain the knowledge along with the characters of each story which helps them grow as a person.

Speaking to Socio Story on the Storydip website, Agarwal, said, “The website is currently a tag-based playlist of stories curated from all over the internet across cultures. It has old tales of Panchatantra and stories dealing with depression, exam stress or suicidal tendencies. We aim to grow into a platform that can reach young girls and other marginalised people and help them with their struggles by offering relatable stories.”

“We plan to expand our existing categories such as inspiring real-life stories and add others such as discrimination, Science fiction, climate change, etc,” further added Agarwal.

Sharing her views on how Stories can make a place in this fast-paced world, Agarwal, said, “On one hand, we have YouTube which offers videos spanning across all topics, and on the other we have websites such as TED conferences, that specifically focuses on original speeches. I believe our website is somewhere between these extremes. It provides stories of sorted multiple genres with an easier filtration interface. The motive also differs because we plan to offer stories as solutions to problems that children or teens might be facing.”

Sharing their future plans, the mother-daughter duo said that they would first reach out to their friends and family, and then to schools. The objective is to get enough users, to get feedback, and then learn from the experience and work on scaling it further. “We will also work on a better form of classification and work on making the website more user-interactive perhaps with Artificial Intelligence,” said Agarwal.

On being asked what is the impact that Storydip would like to create, the little girl shared, “Most of the stories that my Mother told us were related to social issues and hence I became aware about the condition of women in India. I got to know that 30% of women in India are still uneducated and if they were merely encouraged to study and work, India’s GDP could grow by 25 percent. So, I want to reach out to them and hope that Storydip can give them strength to fight as they listen to stories with relatable protagonists and not be burdened by the narrow expectations placed upon them.”

“As a 16-year old girl, I might not be able to change the view of the whole society, but I’ll do what I can and continue to do so. Maybe someday I can make a difference,” concluded Sonika.

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