Unless you’re living under a rock, you would have surely heard of Sarahah app which is driving netizens crazy. The social networking app lets you read honest messages from anonymous people.
For the generation that seeks solace in the virtual world, social media is a boon. But while some revel in the knowledge of how many likes their posts got and how many comments their vacation or dinner date pictures received, or how many compliments they themselves sent to people on this social platform, some prefer to maintain their privacy. The newly launched Sarahah app helps such people. The app which has taken the internet by storm, has got mixed responses from users and non-users for being both honest and mysterious.
Whether you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, Sarahah lets you send and receive anonymous messages. While some users are delighted to receive compliments and love proposals, several others have reported that the app which can also be used on your computer screens, is opening doors for bullying, contempt and hate messages.
Launched barely six months ago, the app has become a sensation in no time, even in India. Created by Saudi programmer Zain Al-Abidin Tawfiq, Sarahah means honesty in Arabic language. It claims that the app helps build self-confidence because you get to read anonymous constructive feedback. All you need to do is create a Sarahah profile and share your ID links through social media platforms so that others can anonymously send you a message.
Sheena Kalsi, 22, a medical student from Delhi, feels the message can’t really affect much if you stay positive. “I wanted to join Sarahah because I felt it is interesting to know what people thought of you. There were a lot of apprehensions as to what if I receive something not amicable. But then the settings are always in your hand. I chose either not to post them or just give a reply to them.
Luckily none of the above happened and my inbox was flooded with lovely wishes and secret hi’s. But it might not be the case with everyone. One of my acquaintances reacted abusively when somebody commented that she was a disaster at cooking. I guess she took it way too seriously! It’s fun. It perturbs you only if you think little of yourself. Haters are going to hate but you should have your own attitude,” adds Kalsi.
The app is not similar to other messaging apps and the tabs it offers are limited to messages, search, explore and profile.
Although the idea of sending anonymous messages seems fascinating because it gives you a chance to secretly confess your feelings of love and hatred, it is also a major concern that more than the constructive message, the app has opened gates for cyber bullying and trolling.
The app is fun in letting your friends, family and colleagues know about their good and bad habits but the cyber space has more often than not proved to be a place that brings out the worst in people and with things such as this, it does not take time for it to go out of control. It is unclear how you can avoid some of the bullying that you might receive — the app does give you an option to block the user or report the messages but what happens with the person sending those messages is unclear. “I have had a terrible experience of using this app. My self-confidence was shattered as someone wrote to me saying that my weight was a burden on this planet.
Also, a lot of people messaged me being single till 24 which is miserable. Some people can take jokes in fun, I couldn’t. So I logged out of the app and am never going to us it again,” says Rohan Singh, final year student from Delhi.
As of now the app provides limited options for privacy. It contains no option for deleting the account, just the option to log out. To delete the account, you need to visit the website itself. While rumours are rife that the app will soon reveal the names of the people who messaged you and some of you may have received an update as well, it is yet to become operational.
As the app is being used mostly by teenagers and youngsters, it is important to understand that even anonymous messages have the power to have a deep impact on us. Says psychologist Saima Parveen from Kolkata, “The constant urge to know what people think of you or whether you are the most popular guy/girl is what attracts the youngsters to this app. While it is all good as long as it is done in fun, this longing to seek validation from others can have a catastrophic impact on the young minds who are still confused about their life, career, and relationships. If you cannot stop the temptation to use it, you can at least use it in a constructive way by not hurting others’ feeling or by taking bullying to the heart.”