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Christine Sim

If you’re feeling anxious, insecure, or depressed, social media is definitely not the place to go to share your feelings. Right? Well, not anymore.

Vent is a smartphone app that allows users to anonymously share their feelings with others. While users are able to share their positive emotions, the app emphasizes its purpose as a place for people to share the emotions that don’t often get heard on other social media platforms.

The app description on the iTunes store says, “Express how you REALLY feel. Vent helps you connect to a supportive, positive, and understanding community, making it easy to share your true feelings with people around the world. Our whole community is just waiting to hear what you have to say. Join now and discover how much you have in common with… well, everybody!”

What separates Vent from the get go is that when signing up, there is no option to link the Vent account with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any social media app at all. It simply requests an email for verification purposes, and upon creating an account, the user is free to post a vent, which is similar to a status update or a Tweet.

When creating a vent, the app first requires the user to choose from multiple lists of emotions that are loosely categorized with similar emotions. Some of the emotions available are: awkward, impatient, anxious, stressed, and empty. There are also positive emotions, such as confident, creative, and affectionate.

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Screenshots courtesy of Vent

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After deciding on one of the many available emotions, a user can then write a blurb to elaborate on his or her current mood. It can range from a single character to an unlimited amount of text, but most users’ vents are about a sentence long, not unlike the length of the average Tweet.

When a vent is posted, it goes on the user’s profile as well as on the user’s feed, where it becomes visible to other users who “are listening.” Rather than adding friends, users can connect with others who choose to listen – which can be thought of as “following” someone, as users do on Twitter or Instagram.

Users can react to other users’ vents with reactions such as “hug,” “ugh,” or “nice,” just to name a few. Users can also like and comment on other people’s vents. There is also an option for private messages between two users, but is only available between users who are mutual listeners.

Vent’s description of itself, highlighting that users can express how they “REALLY feel,” implies that it would be false to say that people don’t try to put the best image of themselves online. Even though it’s natural for anyone to feel hurt or envious at times, the current social media atmosphere doesn’t quite allow for these emotions to be heard. While the ability to curate oneself to his or her liking can be empowering, it has led to a phenomenon of social media becoming a highlight reel of one’s best moments. It minimizes space for negative emotions by its nature.

That’s not to say that social media sites should be a place where everyone discloses their negative emotions.  They are omitted for good reason – people don’t want their inner conflicts to be permanently shared with hundreds of potential viewers. But that’s exactly what makes Vent so great. It’s private, separate, and personal, while still allowing users to be heard by a potentially large audience, providing the sense that they are being supported by a greater community.

While it’s no replacement for face to face, interpersonal support, it still makes users feel reassured, and fills that exact void that sites like Facebook and Twitter have taken away. According to one review, the app is great for getting something off one’s chest in a virtual way, and doesn’t rely on having friends to be effective, making it a fresh take on anonymity. Vent is perfectly catered to social media users today because it gets right at that need for wanting to be acknowledged by large audience while allowing for suppressed emotions to be shared and validated.

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