The growing trend of sharing secrets anonymously online.
Do you have a secret? Something you would like to get off your chest anonymously? Well, there’s an app for that. A relatively young application, founded in 2012, has been making news lately for raising millions in funding.
The application is called ‘Whisper,’ and it is a platform where users can share their deepest secrets anonymously. The smart phone application has millions of users and an average of 3.5 billion page views per month. Users send in their secrets which are displayed over a suited stock image- similar to a greeting card or a meme. The application also allows for interactivity between users by offering private messaging and a space for comments. Users can also search for posts by location and timing.
In an interview from April, the co-founder of Whisper, Michael, Heyward, discussed the psychology behind the application. He explained that, “When you look at any of these identity-based social networks, people are so concerned about their image that they only post really positive things. We saw a huge white space of things that people were not publishing, and wanted to give people a place to share these things that they wouldn’t feel comfortable putting out on social networks.” Heyward makes a good point, and with the constant reminder that whatever you do online is very much public, online users seem to migrate towards the notion of anonymity online. This is clear with the popularity of websites such as Whisper, Snapchat and even NYU’s very own ‘NYU Secrets’ page.
‘NYU Secrets’ is a growing page on Facebook which currently has close to 25,000 likes and over 4,500 posted secrets. While the page is unaffiliated with the university, it works as a platform where NYU students share their secrets and support for each other. Some secrets are short and funny like, “I listen to the theme from Superman every morning to class because I’m always late and it helps me run faster.” But some are more serious; “My friend’s sister is on the plane from Malaysia airlines that is still missing now in nowhere. Please pray for them.” Since the page was created, it has created a community among NYU students, where people offer each other advice and share relatable stories.
These pages are so popular because they offer something so different than platforms like Twitter and Instagram, which as Heyward says, are used for ‘self promotion.’ And while it is so easy to get caught up in the apparent happiness of every Facebook user, these platforms serve as a reminder that it sometimes is just ‘apparent happiness.’