Anonymous Sharing

When using social media, we share our thoughts and experiences, through in an opinion or two, and generally keep it pretty tame. When using Facebook, there are plenty of people watching, a few of which are relatives (I hope you didn’t add your mom), so you don’t always share what’s on your mind. If you wanted to talk about how your best friend hasn’t been the best of friends to you lately, they would surely see it and seemingly endless drama would ensue.

On Twitter you may follow and be followed by people you don’t know, so you might be more inclined to voice your honest opinion about something, and no one’s really going to hate on you for it. You might get favorites or retweets just for being “one hunnid”, or for non­millennials, “real/honest”. You can’t always keep it one hunnid though, because you be saying something that others will feel is weird, disgusting, freaky, or just plain annoying.

A couple years ago, this problem was solved. Anonymous apps started to emerge on the Apple and Android app stores, and soon enough people were downloading them and speaking whatever popped into their heads.

In a time where everyone wants to share what they’re up to with everyone they do and don’t know, some people still feel the need to share anonymously. Around 20 million people have downloaded anonymous apps, and that number continues to climb.

There’s a bunch of anonymous apps out there, but the ones with the most traction are Yik Yak, Secret, Whisper, and Fade.

These apps enable us to share our thoughts and experiences all the while keeping our identities hidden. Seems kinda funny that we have apps to share and interact with friends, yet we also have other apps to do essentially the same thing, only without letting anyone know who we are.

So, why are these apps gaining traction? Just like with Twitter or Facebook, it’s the community that draws in people and convinces them to stay. On Yik Yak the people in my area seem to enjoy the sense of community and users are generally pretty cool about everything. Someone will have a question related to dating, and other users will chime in with advice, their past experiences, or even encouragement.

Why not post that to Facebook or Twitter? Simply put, you probably don’t want friends or people you know to know that dating isn’t one of your strengths and asking them for advice could be embarrassing. You’d ask a friend in person, but you wouldn’t want advice from a relative or an acquaintance, mostly because they’d know it was you.

With an online anonymous community, it’s a given that people will post questions about sex, dating, or share an embarrassing experience. Since no one knows who anyone is, why not speak honestly? On Yik Yak, for example, the worst that can happen is your post gets downvoted off the timeline.

With Yik Yak and Secret, there are community guidelines that users need to follow, like harassing or stalking people, for example. These guidelines are enforced by the app creators, but for the most part they don’t need to do too much enforcing, as users stick to the rules.

Since it’s anonymous, you’d think that people will run rampant and post whatever they want, ruining reputations or sharing others’ secrets, but they keep it one hunnid.

On Yik Yak, someone will post something like, “The girl at the gym with the white tank top, you are fine!” or “This guy in my class is so cute! I wish I had the confidence to approach him.” Anonymous apps can be a huge help to some people, like the second example could’ve gotten comments like “You go girl! I know you can do it! He’ll love you!”, or “Maybe he’s too shy to approach you too! Take a chance!”

The girl who posted the second example will then have received a boost in her confidence; maybe she went up and talked to that boy the next class session. When someone posts something like that, comments flood in with encouragement and compliments. That girl wouldn’t have gotten the same response if she’d posted it on Twitter.

Recently I’ve seen a post or two about someone with depression or someone with a relative who is seriously ill, and rather than being horrible people, users comment things like “I’ve been through depression as well, and here are some resources to help you…” or “I’ll be praying for them! Sending good thoughts and hope they get better!”

Anonymous apps give every user the opportunity to be cruel or rude, yet they support those who need it or provide helpful answers to questions one may have. On Twitter, you see cases of people bullying or harassing others, yet that’s pretty much nonexistent on an app like Yik Yak.

Sometimes a user will create a post that may be offensive or in poor taste, but those quickly get downvoted off of the timeline by other users, and then that person realizes to keep it one hunnid next time. It’s almost a self­regulating machine.

Anonymous app users come to these apps because they feel like they can’t be that honest on other social media outlets, and for good reason; think about the last time a celebrity or powerful person had a meltdown or said something inappropriate on social media and the backlash they got from it.

With anonymous apps, people can share their honest opinion about something and not have their personal life or career ruined; not that posts are really that controversial, but if a politician had Yik Yak, they could talk about how stupid the other party is all day long and not get any hate for it (it’d be downvoted off quickly, but it wouldn’t be discussed widely during the next news cycle).

People like to use anonymous apps to talk about their horrible roommate, a bad first date, or share a funny joke. You can truly be yourself, and not have to worry if others don’t share your opinion. Keep it anonymous, keep it one hunnid.