I’ve been playing around on Secret lately. As a new social channel, I found it interesting and alluring to delve into the realm of anonymous social sharing. In doing so, I discovered a few interesting bits:
People use it to talk about sex. A LOT. While nowhere near surprising, it did reinforce how as a society we simply don’t talk about sex in any meaningful way publicly, or just openly. I’ve encountered some awesome discussions within the realms of sharing and commenting on secrets simply because of the safety involved with anonymity, thus by nature there is little chance of actual repercussions. More than just the issues we have with talking about sex, it also points heavily to the need to talk about it. With so many posts and comments surrounding the broad topic, there is a longing and desire to talk about these things in safe spaces. Things that are otherwise seen as taboo or lurid in mixed company or more public venues where anonymity isn’t a factor.
Even with outstanding community guidelines, people are still going to use the tool/service as they wish. Also known as “trolls will always be trolls”. Secret’s guidelines really are awesome, but they are only as good as the community that adopts them. With the overall tone of “Be Kind”, it seems that anonymity is seen as permission to be anything but. Thankfully, Secret has some outstanding report and block features that can help to quell hate or other inappropriate posts…
Which brings me to judgment. When Secret expanded its market a month or so back, I noticed a large uptick in comments that rained down judgements upon the secrets being shared, or even upon other comments in the threads. Because there is no demographic data to back up and corollaries I may draw, I have no way to know if such judgments are attributable to a particular age range, gender, or socio-economic status. What I do know, is that a large influx of people felt the need to shame, demean, and/or harshly reprimand others for sharing secrets, which seems to me completely misses the point of Secret in creating a safe place for people to share things they can’t say out loud to others.
Gender essentialism is rampant, and starts with basic assumptions of gender as it relates to the post author or anonymous commenters. This is yet another unsurprising behaviour, but one which is highlighted in how often those assumptions are proven incorrect, as well as how easy it is to fall into the traps of essentialism as it can be so deeply ingrained in our upbringing and socialization. Of course it doesn’t stop there, as assumptions of sexuality and even nationality are relatively common and can sneak up on you when you least expect it.
Relationships are hard. People make mistakes. People are scared to do what is right for themselves. Yes it is a huge generalization, but I’ve noticed a lot of secrets relating to interpersonal relationships, questioning themselves or their significant other, and lamenting being stuck in situations. One great secret shared put it very well as a PSA: “Pleasure is our birthright”. What so many secret sharers seem to miss is that it is indeed okay to be happy, to find your pleasure, to do what is right for you.
Being able to see that a “Friend” shared a particular secret has reminded me how amazing and awesome my friends really are. There are heartbreaking secrets, sexy secrets, and even dull work related secrets. But they all show our humanity and beauty, and that to me is the best part of Secret: through anonymity I can see your true beauty.
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