Sarahah and the mask that is anonymity
"Give a man a mask and he'll show you his true face." Good 'ol Oscar Wilde's words are being taken too literally with Sarahah, an anonymous messaging app that has gone viral in the last few weeks. The app, built by a Saudi Arabian, Zain Alabdin Tawfiq is aimed to be a self-development app. In the App Store listing, the app states that it helps users "discover strengths and areas of improvements by receiving honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner."

But, just like most things, the app was meant for one thing and it is being used for something entirely different. My Facebook feed is now flooded with turquoise banners showing the deepest realms of one's mind. An honest feedback. A confession.

Thanks to the anonymity and spurred by the virality, people have been using the app to confess everything they wouldn't have been able to say in people's faces. I have seen messages ranging from mushy proposals to friendly banter to outright insults. As a result, the app has become a reflection of all that was lying underneath the friendliness of social media.

On one side there is Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter where narcissism rules the roost. You share everything from your opinions to what you are eating and where you are going and then there is Sarahah, that feeds on that narcissism and blurts out envy, hatred and creepy romance.

Once signed up, users get a unique link which they share on their social media profiles. This link is then used to address them anonymously by haters and admirers alike. The intention is usually mixed with a sense of curiosity about what people really think about you. There is no way of replying to the messages. Neither can you know who is it from. It works well as a one-way communication tool.

In an ideal world, Sarahah would indeed help one understand their weaknesses. Most social constructs prevent people from speaking their mind. The ones who do are often criticised for it. The Saudi Arabian origin of the app also makes sense. The country is known for stifling opinions and curbing basic freedom of expression. So the anonymity becomes a mask which helps get the truth out.

Now mix that long-desired urge to speak one's mind with a platform that lets people get away with it and you have the perfect formula for a stalker's orgasm. A large part of the user base are teenagers which makes the situation even more complicated. Online bullying and cyberstalking are at an all time high and teenagers are always the most vulnerable. Perhaps that is why the app was updated with an option of blocking messages.

At the end of the day, Sarahah too is a social messaging platform. Just like the rest of them, it also brings people together and just like the rest, it can also become venomous. I have indeed seen people having fun with the confessions they are receiving but I have also been privy to the dark side of it.