Remember back in 2014 when happy games that brought us together, like Ellen DeGeneres' 'Heads Up', ruled the charts in the App Store? Because I sure do. Those were the days, when we downloaded apps to make us feel better, and not to compare to other people, like we do with HotOrNot and now Sarahah, the summer's latest internet craze that is topping the App Store charts. The app was only brought to my attention because everyone and their auntie had been talking about it on Snapchat and Instagram, inserting links in their social media bios and urging everyone to leave them comments. I, being the curious cat I am, did a little peeking around, and was appalled at what I found. Sarahah is a space designed for people to leave anonymous ‘constructive criticism’ for whomever they please.
Sarahah originated in Saudi Arabia, and pitches itself to social media users as a network where employees can feel comfortable writing honest criticism to their managers or higher ups. But, since the release of the English version of the app in June, it has begun to stray away from its intended use, and is instead being used as another platform for middle and high school-aged students to engage with each other. The trendiness of the app is reminiscent of Whisper, YikYak and Ask.Fm, which plagued every teenager's phone as they nervously checked and rechecked their inbox for new anonymous messages in years past. Although it claims to have been created with good intentions, Sarahah is, when you strip away the reviews and fancy verbiage, a forum where teenagers can write whatever they want to other teenagers. Without the tethers of identity, there’s no consequence for their words. All of this is a perfect recipe for cyber bullying, and the biggest reason why I will not be making an account, and why you shouldn’t either.
I’m not pointing the finger at the cyber bullies. I don’t think that they should be the ones to blame. What else can you expect from cyber bullies? Why should any of us be surprised they managed to slither their way onto the hottest app of the summer? No matter how hard anyone tries, no matter how many laws get passed, cyber bullies will always be there, because life is gross and depressing and doesn’t always go your way, and there will always be a percentage of people who lack coping skills.
I instead turn to the people who drink the Kool Aid and decide that making a Sarahah account is a productive way to use their time. Maybe you have a perpetual fear of missing out and decide that you have to hop on the latest trend before everyone thinks you’re a total loser. Maybe your curiosity got the best of you and you just had to know what anonymous keyboard warriors had to say about you, just so that you could confirm or deny the whispers you hear your subconscious say to you when you look in the mirror. Again, I ask, in what universe would you consider this to be a productive way to kill time?
The app builds its foundation on the idea that it’s solely for ‘constructive’ criticism, emphasis on constructive, so that your pals can feel safe being honest with you about things they don’t like, hence the option to be anonymous. But, if you have friends that need anonymity to call you out on your BS, are they even your friends? If they can’t look you in the eye and tell you you’re being problematic, or that you have spinach in your teeth or that you have extreme halitosis and need to get on it ASAP, you need new friends. Because the ones you have kind of suck.
Aside from all of this, this app has the fixings to be detrimental to your mental health. People’s opinions of you don’t matter, especially when you aren’t aware of them. As you live your life every day, you have no clue what some random kid in chemistry class thinks of your mannerisms, or the way you have an at-risk chin when you’re focusing. But, as soon as you download that app and they see you’ve made an account, they’re enticed to tell you just how they feel about the quirks that ultimately make you, you. Now that you know just how that random kid feels, you can’t help but feel a brief amount of self-loathing. Now, imagine that experience times ten. Or even worse, imagine it with push notifications on.
If I wasn’t a chronic rambler and could say things concisely, I’d say this: you are better than Sarahah. There are absolutely zero benefits that come with having it in your life or on your screens. And ultimately, you’re feeding the bears, AKA cyber bullies, by making yourself susceptible to anonymous criticism from people who probably don’t even know you. Please, pretty please, if you’ve already downloaded it, please delete it. And virtually take my hand as we run into a field of daisies and boycott this app, with our self-esteem still intact.
Lead image credit: www.sarahah.com