Anonymous is The New Black. But Is It Working for Us?



Like everyone else in the tech world, we’ve been wasting hours on Secret in the last week. The new app is taking over, and with the breakout success comes the money. And the jobs.

I saw this secret posted a few days ago, and it sparked some discussion between Nick and me. Y’all know how I feel about women-only things. It’s a little more nuanced than this particular secret, but I get where she’s coming from.

After a few minutes, we moved on and got back to work. But, the “secret” stayed stuck in my head.

I kept wanting to go back to the thread and reach out to the poster. I kept thinking I should leave her this link. Or maybe this one. Or, maybe I could just say, “I totally get it.”

There was some solidarity from other people in that thread. Of course, it had also devolved into an expletive-filled bitchfest, as most threads on Secret seem to. Because apparently anonymity comes without the expectation of basic human kindness.

But, I guess my point is that there was no way to truly connect with someone who shared my opinion on a hot topic–a fairly unpopular opinion that few people are willing to shout from the Twitter rooftops.

Anonymity on the web is nothing new, of course. If anything the last 10 years of Facebook and claiming your real identity is the new thing. Thanks to Facebook we use the web to connect with friends and family and build our reputations and careers. All things that require connecting our online and offline identities.

I understand the allure of Secret and other anonymous gossip apps. They take our need to share every.single.thought and include even those deepest, darkest thoughts we’re most afraid of sharing. That’s cathartic and narcissistic all at the same time. Add in the almost-voyeuristic delight that these secrets are coming from people we know (or probably know), and it’s no wonder Secret has taken over the tech world.

And there’s probably a place for both anonymity and openness. After all, we have Facebook and Twitter, and we all know that everything we see on there is true and not at all fake as we all try to manage our “brands.”

Still, I’m a little sad to have the missed the opportunity to connect with someone who shares both my experiences and my opinion. While a couple of the comments were supportive, a large number just reinforced why that woman probably doesn’t want to share her “secret” with the world.



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