Psst, Secret App

Have you tried Secret yet? It came out a couple weeks ago, and I am a 13-year-old.

The app is like an intimate PostSecret for your phone, an experiment PostSecret tried and then abandoned back in 2012, because they felt they couldn’t create a bully-free environment. Foreshadowing.

Once you load Secret, it searches your iPhone’s contact list for friends, and then marks secrets as coming from “friends” or “friends of friends.” If you don’t have enough contacts in the system, it fills your feed with popular posts from others, which are marked with the user’s home state.

To keep things private(ish), you can’t see secrets from friends until you have at least three other friends in the system, though I wouldn’t share where you hid the bodies anytime soon. Randomized avatar icons help you understand who’s talking when a comment thread goes conversational.

And about that bullying thing, people are sometimes called out by name in negative contexts, which can make it embarrassing to use the app for the real-live grownups in the crowd. But Secret has been interesting overall, and sometimes a nice way to support friends going through tough moments.

Have you tried it, or its more random cousin Whisper? And if not, what do you think about the whole deal?

4 thoughts on “Psst, Secret App

  1. I’m so un-tech-savvy I’m not even sure I understood what this app is doing. At least I know it’s out there now, so thanks for trying to keep me in the loop!


  2. I want to like the idea? But mostly it seems like not just anonymous bullying opportunities but also forced whimsey opportunities, or passive-aggressively borderline mean opportunities, or infuriatingly ignorant ones.

    I spend a lot of time telling people to own their words. Anonymity is powerful. Unless you’re in the French Resistance, or you are Banksy, or are participating in something like Post Secret, chances are pretty good if you have something to say, it’s important to say with attribution. I mean, really. How many eople in this world struggle to be heard at all?

    (I really effing hated being 13)


  3. Yeah, now that the novelty has worn off, it leaves me with a vaguely bad taste when I use it. Mainly because people are using it for vicarious sexy stuff like a chat room (*yuck*), or because I can tell it’s the same people using it to complain about the same things over and over. PostSecret is cool because there’s absolutely no way to trace it without involving law enforcement, and because Frank is so good at choosing what goes public.

    That said, Secret is fantastic when people are being authentic, saying they’re depressed or feel alone, because I find that people do rise to support. That element is what attracted me, but I don’t think there’s enough of it to keep the service from being an energy suck.


  4. I remember a good while ago now, you posted a thing on what you wanted to achieve when you started blogging. You said two things that I think are really good to think about in virtual presence sorts of spaces:

    1) You wanted your blog to be a place where you captured the parts of life that are happy ones- you called it a scrapbook. I suppose if that’s all that ever went online we’d be living in an intolerably saccharine world. But I took it to mean less “I will only show what is ideal in my life” and more “I will try to be my best self- vulnerable or upset, happy or excited- in this space.” It’s good to behave in ways we can be proud of later.

    2) You wrote “you reap what you sow.” And that’s so, so true. Fostering spaces and participating spaces where we can have safe, open dialogue, be vulnerable and honest is as important as being positive or supportive or happy.

    I think Secret App doesn’t give us a way to prioritize those things, you know? It’s not moderated or curated, so you don’t have someone to help filter out abuse. And the accountability that comes with attribution isn’t there, which means it’s hard to offer productive support and/or be self-regulating.

    So yeah. Being able to say “I want connections and I am afraid” is important, but I don’t really think this platform makes that happen very well, even if that’s its purpose.

    I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising, given what we know about women and blogging and some of the stuff they (we) have to tolerate from trolls- anonymous and named- just for being women online talking about our lives.

    “You reap what you sow” are words to live by in online communities. I remember and think about that lot before I press “post” on FB or Twitter or comments on blogs. I don’t do it perfectly all the time, but I try.


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