This morning, I opened my Twitter feed, which showed among the latest PR news updates, soundbites of selfies, relationship updates, “I love you” conversations…the TMI (too much information) works.
A look into my Facebook reveals friends who update their relationship status every week, post about their son’s recent graduation every hour, and have ‘liked’ things I wouldn’t admit to liking even in an offline social sphere.
We share too much, too often, with the majority of content mirroring the fluff or marshmallows. This isn’t compelling news. Our awkward, wasteful, and inappropriate social media tendencies have become a pub small talk staple.
But a new app is changing that, all by providing the answer to a single question: what kinds of things would we share online if we could do so anonymously? Meet Whisper. For those of you familiar with the popular mail-in postcard art project, PostSecret, it’s a very similar idea, but designed for the app world. Users post secrets, usually around 3-5 sentences, which they submit anonymously.
“The whole idea around whisper is that the social web has become this place where people have a lot of superficial interactions,” says co-founder Michael Heyward. “I was compelled to create a place for people to be able to have authentic dialogue and express themselves in a uniquely genuine way.”
Essentially, Heyward’s argument is that the content posted in Whisper is the kind of stuff worth sharing – albeit anonymously. It’s a provoking thought, and perhaps a comment on how the mode of human dialogue is constantly evolving. We expect to hear more about Whisper in the future. But here’s five things you should know for now:
1. It’s only available for the app world. While currently only available to iOS users, it plans to expand the app for Android sometime later this year.
2. It’s interactive. Users are able to “ME2!” others’ posts (the equivalent of “liking” on Facebook), and can reply to posts, creating threads. The app also let’s you tag your location, giving you the option to personalise your secret if it has a regional specificity. You then have the option of seeing posts exclusively within a one mile radius of your area. Which means…
3. It’s taking university gossip to a whole new dangerous level. Already a favourite across college campuses, the “nearby” feature is creating specific community-based secrets. As universities are already known as a sinkhole for gossip, Whisper has the potential to take it to a whole new level. The professor having an affair with one of his or her students, the geology major who has been selling old tests to peers…the list could go on. And already is.
4. The app recently received $3 million in investment from venture capitalists. Lightspeed Venture Partners, which has backed more than 200 companies over the past 20 years, and others have contributed some serious cash toward the start up. With more than 8 million secrets already posted, they understand the potential of the new app– with some users even saying they prefer Whisper to Facebook.
5. Whisper is teaching us a lot about the human condition. Traditional social networking sites are known as places to only post the positives. “People use social networking to show others a perfect version of themselves,” says Heyward. And it’s true. But the content on Whisper – some of it lighthearted, some of it deeper confessions about failures, fears, and dreams – is authentic. And it’s fascinating to find a forum containing thousands of capsules (and growing) of such authenticity, all in one space.