Dying to get that affair off your chest? Do you hide it from your fraternity brothers that you love romantic comedies? Do you tell your family that you’re a waitress when you really strip for money? Have you slept with one of your professors this semester to receive an A?
These are just a few of the confessions you will see when you download whisper, an app where you can anonymously share your darkest secrets.
I initially downloaded this app when my interest was peaked after viewing an ad on my Facebook news feed. That was nearly six months ago, and despite feeling as if I’ve seen every kind of secret, I am hopelessly addicted.
Upon opening, the app portrays four tabs – Popular, Featured, Latest, and Nearby, (however this tab will only work if your location settings are enabled.) Any whisper can be “liked” by two taps. A little heart with a number next to it indicates how many likes a whisper has received.
You can also reply to a whisper, and the reply will be posted underneath the original for all viewers to see. Private messaging (referred to as PM) is also a prominent feature – a private conversation with someone you know nothing about. Generally, these people live nearby. When you post, the app notifies whisperers within a certain mileage. These are generally the ones sending a PM or replying to your whisper, unless it has made it to the popular page.
Of course, as with any social network, precautions should be taken. This is not any less true of this app simply because it is anonymous. Even more so, actually. When you download the app, you must verify that you are over seventeen – and for good reason. Occasionally, dirty or full on nude pictures are posted, or explicit sexual comments are made. There is a feature to flag these; however, a fair amount make it to the popular page.
Post a whisper that even hints at being female and watch your inbox numbers skyrocket as boys and men PM you asking “guy/gal?,” “age,” or just “hi.” Rest assured, all regards for proper grammar is cast to the side as if it is the most useless thing out there.
You may also receive a message asking for ASL – this stands for age, sex, location. I rarely reply to these messages because A) so much for being anonymous and B) this is often used by people who just want a casual hookup. (i.e. They want to know if you’re of legal age, what gender, and how close you are to them.)
People often ask for a photo. This may be out of pure curiosity, however I have seen several complaints from users that once they send a picture of themselves, conversation halts and is never resumed, thus lowering the self esteem of many and destroying the aspect of anonymity.
Another caution: several males who use this app have an unhealthy fascination with sending pictures of their junk to absolute strangers. So think twice before opening that message that has an attachment, unless you explicitly asked for photos from that user.
Be careful when you do choose to reply to messages. I’ve heard several times of underage girls lying about their age so they can exchange pictures or sexually explicit messages with men who are over eighteen, and in some cases even over twenty-one.
The little purple icon, portraying a female holding a finger up as if to say “shh...” has made its way next to my icon for Facebook and email, in the most easily accessible location.
The “w” in the apps title is even lowercase, as if the app itself wants to be inconspicuous, just like every user. One simple tap and you’ll find yourself ina vast community of users, whose age, race, and personal views you may never know. But, they’ll tell you their secrets.
Within 24 hours of downloading this app, I guarantee you will find:
1) Someone who is cheating.
2) Someone about to “come out” to their family, asking for luck.
3) Someone about to propose.
4) Someone coming home from the military about to surprise their family.
5) Someone who has slept with their teacher for an A.
6) Someone who has slept with their boss for a promotion.
7) Someone who says, “I’m 17 and still a virgin!!”
8) A repost of something that has been on the internet for ages.
9) Musical lyrics.
10) Maybe, a real secret.
So why so much attraction if so many of these “whispers” are the same, and if so few are legitimate secrets?
I wish I could tell you.
Perhaps it’s the human drive to be nosy and know things other humans feel the need to hide. Perhaps you need to get something off your chest yourself. Perhaps it’s the feeling of blending in with so many other users – you can be whoever you want and reveal absolutely nothing about yourself.
One of the things that intrigues me most with this app is watching the way people reply to whispers. The comments can be everywhere from extremely positive and supportive to downright mean where people may use names and foul language. Which response your whisper gets often depends much on what you initially confessed.
I’ve seen whispers from someone about to commit suicide get some of the kindest replies. Everything from “RIP,” “I love you,” “You’re beautiful, baby, you have so much to live for,” to “I’ll message you and we’ll get through this together.”
On the flip side, whispers that confess to things like cheating on a significant other almost always get vulgar replies and will without fail be called nasty names. I’ve even seen one person reply that you may as well kill yourself if you’ve cheated. Now, if this person did decide to go ahead and take such an extreme action, and posted about it, we’d be back to kind replies and trying to talk this person into continuing on with their life.
It’s a viscous cycle, ladies and gentlemen.
Initially an app to get things off your chest without being judged, inevitably, we as human beings judge. We’re rude to the not-so-nice whispers and kind to sad, sweet, or funny ones. Unless it’s a repost. No matter how sweet or funny, a repost gets negative comments simply for being a repost. Does it make sense? No. But it happens regardless.
Anonymous or not, people will judge based on that one skeleton you post about, as if that is the one thing that defines you. It’s the same way people judge based on age, race, or what car you drive. It’s simply another outlet to judge others, but maybe you won’t feel so bad because the person you’re judging doesn’t have a face, they are simply words on a screen.
Which brings me to my final thought.
Whisper is basically an anonymous concrete platform on which to study human behavior. It’s the same as high school – you still have your bullies, your loners, your onlookers, your support system, etc. The difference is if you were a bully in high school simply because you wanted to look tough, you could easily become the support system here. If you were the loner in high school, feel free to speak up here because no one knows who you are behind the screen.
You get to choose who you want to be. I prefer to watch discussions and occasionally arguments unfold while people reveal their confessions and opinions to the world.
So if you become hopelessly addicted, as I am, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Get those skeletons out of the closet and explore them. Maybe you’ll make a new friend. Maybe you’re just bored and need entertainment. Whatever the case, whether you’re a current whisperer or are downloading for the first time, whisper responsibly.
Maybe that purple icon will become your guilty pleasure, a secret all of its own.