I broke the first rule of the internet.
I read the comments.
The latest internet craze is an app where friends, family, and strangers can leave anonymous comments about you.
It’s as brilliantly wonderful and perfectly awful as you might think it is.
Don’t get me wrong. I knew what I was getting into when I signed up for an account. I knew people wouldn’t hold back. After all, how hard is it to say awful things when you’re hiding behind internet anonymity? What I didn’t expect was my obsession with the negative comments.
The app is called Sarahah. The creator bills it as a way to “get honest feedback from coworkers and friends.” The company said it's the number one app in 30 countries. Sarahah also had more than 250 million visitors and more than one billion page views in a month. After seeing a lot of my friends sign up, I decided to give it a go.
Here’s how it went.
I told myself I wouldn’t check the comments until the next day. I kept that promise.
The morning after I shared the link on Facebook and invited constructive criticism, I checked – nervously -- to see how many people gave their two cents.
I held my breath as I logged into the page.
The first two contributions were positive.
“You work hard and I respect you,” someone wrote.
Great! Maybe this isn’t so bad. Big sigh of relief.
“You definitely helped me get through some tough times,” someone else said.
Wow! Maybe I’m making an impact on people.
”Your professional accomplishments are inspiring, but your presence as a friend can feel disingenuous.”
What?? Maybe this is the WORST idea ever. Insert panic.
Listen, I know I’m not a perfect friend, but disingenuous?! YEESH.
At this point, I started to obsess. The natural next step was to text everyone I knew asking if I was a terrible friend.
Spoiler alert: they all said no. So, at least I have that going for me.
I logged out and forgot about it while I traveled home from a trip to Texas.
I didn’t get anymore notifications about new comments until late Tuesday night.
I opened up the page hoping for something glowing.
What I found was hardly positive.
“You complain a lot. It really gets annoying...”
This blog might seem like one big complaint, so maybe there’s some truth in that person’s comment. I don’t know. But, I can’t stop trying to figure out which two friends left those comments.
Sarahah isn’t the first anonymous feedback tool that’s hit the internet. Years ago, there was a site called Formspring – which had similar success initially.
Both drew critics for enabling people to cyberbully others by leaving hateful remarks without accountability.
Yet, people continue to use it. Twitter user @brooke_lynnar17 summed up the fad in one tweet.
sarahah is the worst mistake anyone can make yet no one can stop using it— brookelynn😛 (@brooke_lynnar17) August 9, 2017
Everyone knows the first rule of the internet is NEVER read the comments.
Yet, here we are, creating our own anonymous comments sections … hungry to read the hateful opinions others are eager to share anonymously.
Some users even ASK for the awful assessments.
“Leave your worst,” they said. “Do your worst.”
The problem isn’t the app. Sarahah gives us a place to share honest feedback. The problem is how people are using the app -- to be ruthless, rude, and just plain mean.
Yeah, I had a few praises on my page. But, they were totally overshadowed by the negative responses. And, mine weren’t THAT negative. I can’t imagine what vile things other people are reading. In the app store, Sarahah is rated for ages 17 and older.
Look, I don’t want to get on a soapbox, but I’m pretty sure I’m already up here. So, I might as well make the most of it.
Why do we need an internet craze to share our true opinions with each other? Especially if we’re sharing with friends … Shouldn’t we ALREADY be honest with each other?
I’m probably asking for too much.
And you’re probably ready to anonymously call me a “snowflake” on my Sarahah page.
If you do, I’ll never know.
Because I’m going back to following the rules of the internet.
Especially rule number one.
© 2017 TEGNA MEDIA