It’s All Anonymous
I recently read an article about an app called Whisper which allows people to make and share anonymous comments about basically anything. I find this concept intriguing because people are generally more forthright with certain things in an environment where they are hidden behind a wall so I was curious as to what types of things I’d see. Whisper also allows you to reply to someone’s Whisper (anonymously of course) or ‘heart’ a Whisper. You can even privately chat with the author of a particular whisper completely anonymously. You can also view Whispers online in a web browser. Whispers are posted as image files with a background image either chosen by the app based on the text content or users can upload their own pictures for backgrounds.
The App Itself
From a technical standpoint, the app is well-designed, easy to navigate, and it operates smoothly on my aging iPhone 4S. You can search for Whispers by topic/category, most recent, or by location. By default the app spews out a lot of notifications, constantly requesting your attention. I turned off the notifications on mine because it gets kind of annoying. In the event that you’re receiving private messages from someone that you don’t like, you can choose to block them from sending you messages (it’s still anonymous of course).
The Whisper Community
I downloaded the app from the Apple App Store (it was free) and began browsing peoples’ Whispers. Although the Whispers come in a variety of categories, a large portion of them are sexual or NSFW comments regardless of the category you browse. Also since Whisper users can upload their own photos, it’s not uncommon to bump into some very graphic background images that wouldn’t be considered appropriate for most situations (and I mean like XXX stuff). Whisper also seems to be a popular sounding board for the LBGT community, especially the ones who aren’t quite ready to come out to their friends & family just yet. If you are offended or bothered by LBGT comments and topics, then you’d best avoid Whisper altogether.
Whispers include everything from funny & whimsical, serious & thought-provoking, to macabre & disturbing. There are plenty of Whispers that are simple confessions to an unknown group of strangers, and there’s definitely no shortage of guys looking to meet up for sex on Whisper. I posted a Whisper last night asking if anyone wanted to be my jogging partner in my area and I was immediately flooded with private messages from men asking for my age, sex, and location. I didn’t even know that people still used a/s/l as a question these days; it kinda reminded me of my younger years floating around chat rooms on dial-up AOL. Of course, when I responded back to these people saying 36/m/MD they quickly disappeared. I deleted that Whisper and replaced it with one asking for a jogging partner and specifying that I was a 36 year old man and didn’t get a single response.
There’s Hope, Well on Second Thought, Maybe Not…
As part of my research for this review, I wanted to speak with a Whisper user and find out what they thought of the app. I found a whisper from someone I know only as ‘Word_around_town” complaining that as soon as she posted something, she was bombarded by private messages from guys looking for sex. I sent her a private message explaining what I was doing and we chatted back and forth for a while and here’s what she said:
“I’ve been using this site for advice. The advice seems a little more sincere and legit coming from a stranger who won’t just tell me what I wanna hear to keep me happy like a friend would. One problem with this site is because it’s anonymous there’s a lot of bullying. I’ve been a part of this site for 24 hours and I’ve already been called a bitch and a whore. I was told to go get an STD. I’ve been called stupid and my life has been threatened.”
I wasn’t surprised by her comments at all. The internet seems to be loaded with people who are willing to be mean and hurtful in ways that they would never be in person or to someone’s face. I’ve experienced many times where I’ve commented on a news article and got flooded with Facebook notifications of people who disagreed with me calling me stupid and dumb even when they don’t know me. Ultimately, Whisper is just another social app that people can hide behind and pretend they’re someone they’re not. There’s plenty of hilarious and interesting stuff on Whisper if you have a thick enough skin and you’re willing to dig through the garbage to find it. I personally don’t have the time to spend on many social networks so I deleted my Whisper app and left behind one final Whisper: People have big balls when they’re behind walls.