In an era where it seems as if everyone from your neighbor to your kindergarten friend shares news of his or her dinner, haircut or a baby, the rise in anonymous sharing apps: Secret, Whisper, and Cloaq is especially interesting. What are people sharing and why?
A recent scan through some posts on these anonymous sharing apps yields mixed results: the sad (depression, loveless marriages, fear of the future) to the delightfully entertaining (television shows references, parties, quirky habits) to the charmingly fuzzy (devotion to loved ones - humans and pets!) to outright political, financial and technology rumors
A friend who used one of the anonymous sharing apps mentioned that she giggled while walking on the sidewalk, teared up on the train, and smiled when waiting in the grocery store line. In contrast to the often times mindless scrolling through various social networks, users connect to these nameless, faceless people in a way that normally happens after a few glasses of wine on a friend's couch. Yeah, I've been there....Wow, I hope I am never in his situation....I thought the same thing last week....I can't believe that!
The facebook albums, pinterest boards, tweets, instagram filters are all part of the carefully curated, online personas of Millenials. The intrigue of the anonymous sharing apps hinges on the absence of this context.
Sharers only provide a sentence or two. Readers only are able to judge, comment, or opine on these few words. That's powerful...and slightly reminiscent of the old adage "Don't judge a person by his past". It forces the sharer to simply state his feelings - and compels the reader to focus not on prior knowledge of the sharer, but only the words in front of him. This laser focus on the issue generates feedback that is nearly always on point, as opposed to the often times meandering commentary thrust upon them by friends and family that fall under the guise of "qualified advice" or "informed opinions".
The appeal of the confession lies in its simplicity. The lack of context of the secret allows it to resonate with more people. While superficially perhaps a burnt out New York investment banker has little in common with a SoCal beach loving surfer, the statement "I don't know what I want to do when I grow up" somehow may unite them. There is a community of seemingly disparate people, who as it turns out, are not that disparate at all. In fact, these universal feelings of fear, pride, excitement, hope, love, and doubt are what connects us. Apparently, many want to share these feelings to people who don't judge them using the other parts of their complicated lives. Perhaps it's telling of the world we live in that the sharers deem it appealing to reveal parts of their lives but only feel comfortable doing so anonymously.
Despite the glossy packaging of ourselves on various social media outlets, we're all human...and we all have our secrets.