We’ve been moving slowly through the era of social information technology and that means more and more fears crop up about having our lives on display in social networks. People have images of themselves at parties on Facebook, tweet that they’re at a concert, and get it up with a HangOut on Google+ from their Android phone. People have never been more connected in all of history in ways that record our daily lives.
A new social media app, Whisper.sh, introduces what looks a lot like an anonymous Pinterest. We’ve seen this sort of media before as well in the fashion of anonymous postcards (or images) with messages written on them from people speaking about intimate details of their lives. In a very much “postcards from the edge,” Whisper produces a pin-up board of meme-worthy inner expressions from people who have no names for anyone to peruse.
“In the era of everyone showing their digital projections,” said Michael Heyward, co-Founder of whisper, “we know there’s tremendous value in building an alternative social network around authenticity & anonymity.”
As social animals, humans like to connect with one another (or at least we know people love to brag) but one of the down sides of bragging is that often that information leaks out of our social circles. Your capability to down an entire keg in a night at a party during your 20’s may not be the sort of thing you want your employer seeing in your Facebook page—but it is the sort of thing you might keep a link to in a scrapbook to impress your newest friends.
Projects like Whisper provide not just the capability to brag with anonymity (essentially providing an audience to would-be braggers without the social sigma) but it also triggers the opposite sense of voyeurism and Schadenfreude that leads people to love situational comedy TV shows. It means that people who have something to get off their chest can do so and be certain that a lot of people get to see it; and everyone else can live vicariously through others’ intimate insights.
The sort of messages that can appear on a site like this can be profound. Messages that are heartbreaking, such as, “My first love invited me to his wedding. I went, His mom hugged me and whispered in my ear ‘everyone knows it should be you up there, sweetie.’ I had to step away because I couldn’t control my tears.” And outright hostile, “Fuck anyone who wants to judge you. They don’t know shit.” And often just kinky or furtive, “Lip biting is such a turn on.”
Whisper is available on the iPhone and the little images-plus-text can be posted from anywhere whenever inspiration strikes.
All of the images can be shared, of course, across every extremely popular social media service directly form the site with Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr—bringing the radical anonymity and social media at large once again full circle. The image macros themselves retain their anonymous authorship, but they can still spread virally across the web, mobile devices, and reach the eyes of thousands of audience. All with one thought and a phone somewhere in the world.