Anonymity is an individual right. The power to choose, trend of no trend!
It’s the hour of anonymity. I mentioned this yesterday when writing about new website Startups Anonymous, but the trend deserves a deeper exploration.
The two biggest apps riding the anonymous wave are, of course, Whisper and Secret. Whisper saw a summer of hype, leading it to $24 million in financing and a frothy $75-$100 million valuation. Secret is having its moment in the spotlight. Or, I suppose, the shadowy corners, or wherever it is that anonymity platforms go when they get famous for hiding people’s identities.…
It seems natural that now we’re facing a backlash. There’s a desire to return to the early days of the Web when online was the space we could go to not be ourselves. But this time, we want to take the power of our social networks with us.
If the popularity of the Secret app is any indication, people want to be able to explore and move about their social circles without anyone tracking them. They want to say things to their friends and have no one know. They want to read their friends anonymous confessions in return. They want the social and the secrecy. They want it all.
In our attempt to erase our own social footprints, we turned to ephemerality first. Whenever people talked about the power and potency of Snapchat, they inevitably referred to its “ephemerality.”
When you yourself publish a secret, you get the titillation of knowing it will impact your world and your contacts. It will be read by your friends. That social impact can all be done without repercussions, good or bad, for you.
It’s not truly anonymity. It’s pseudo-anonymity. You can speak from your own identity, to your own network, without anyone knowing.
Online, it was an original tenet of virtual communities, and a core part of many virtual games. It was a recent as 2008 that we were starting to consider what an online world without anonymity meant. That’s how much of a part of our web experience anonymity played.
Mobile simply taps into that same need for anonymous interactions, makes it easier for the average person to spill such confessions, and ties it to a network that is one’s own.
Of course, if anonymity is not an integral human need, then it’s a passing fancy. It will be a fashion that will run its cycle like any other.