It didn’t take long after I downloaded Secret, the new app that allows users to write anonymous postings about others and share them with a network of “friends,” before I found one about me; see below:
So, okay, fine: I'm a writer and I put my work out there in the public. Criticism comes with the territory (although, seriously, the Kermit meme has been done to death, dear.) However, as I continued to browse through the posts that were coming up, I went from bemused, to troubled, to downright disgusted.
Yes, some of the posts were dirty, sexy, and funny:
But the vast majority of the "secrets" posted were far from any sort of laughing matter. I felt more and more disgusted, first with myself for taking part in what felt like very eerie voyeurism, then with the physical app itself. Also, most of the "secrets" posted were not about public figures: these were innocent people who were left to the mercy of whatever cowardly app users who were posting these things.
Then there were the downright depressing ones, "secrets" that made me want to suggest therapists to the posters (or, better yet, an abandonment of social media all together):
That last one killed me. I deleted the app.
A recent study by GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, found that 42 percent of LGBTQ youth experienced cyber bullying. 42 percent! Secret essentially is free-range cyber bullying. And worse, it's anonymous. At the very least, when a person posts on Facebook, there's some level of quasi-accountability; we know who is saying things. With Secret, anything goes.
I started thinking back to my own high school days as a very awkward, very insecure, gay teenager. I remembered some of the things said to my face, "faggot" this and "faggot" that. At least in person, I knew the people who were insulting me. Then, I imagined seeing these things anonymously, on my cell phone. I don't know if I would have been strong enough to stomach it.
It seems like we've all too quickly forgotten the likes of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who committed suicide after his "friends" outted him on the Internet. For anyone who was outraged by the events surrounding Clementi's death, we ought to think twice before playing around on Secret. I'll let a app user summarize things: