The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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"Whisper" app growing

Emily Welch

Contributing Writer

It is not often that you find college students who confess their insecurities or broadcast their crushes in a Facebook status or Twitter post. However, many students are letting down their walls and sharing guarded secrets through the anonymous “Whisper” application. 
Created in April 2012 by Michael Heyward in response to students’ building pressure to create perfect versions of themselves in other social media outlets, this new iPhone application and website allows college students to post their private thoughts in a public forum that is 100 percent anonymous.

While other anonymous social media forums have existed, such as FormSpring or Facebook’s notorious Honesty Box, Heyward sees Whisper as a mobile-accessible safe space away from vicious comments and posts that often result from other forms of anonymous media.

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“It may be comforting to see a kid your own age go through the hard things that you go through because a lot of the times on Facebook people are putting out an image that everything is great and fine when it’s not,” Samantha Deana ’14 said.

According to Heyward, the purpose of Whisper is to help college students feel less alone and more supported in a world that has become increasingly hypercritical and conformist.
 Many public platforms of social media encourage users to craft a public persona that will be viewed and judged by others. Motivations behind writing on a friend’s wall instead of sending a private message, or Tweeting about an event that one is attending, have major social implications and strive to further a person’s outward image to their circle of friends. 
Instead, Whisper does not promote self-image, but self-expression. The forum, built to promote a safe and accepting community, allows users to post statements and thoughts that some might feel too vulnerable confessing to even close friends.

Paging through various “Whispers,” you will find posts about a variety of topics ranging from daily worries and admissions of embarrassing habits, to confusions about sexuality and admissions of loneliness. Some posts are as trivial as “I cannot sleep with socks on. Anyone have the same problem?” or “I prefer men with tattoos,” while others could convey substantial grief. Whispers can be created, sent and viewed within seconds. To post a Whisper, you first choose a photo from the search feature or from your own personal camera roll. After selecting an image, you can adjust the color and tone of the image, an effect similar to Instagram. After entering text and choosing a font, the Whisper is posted and set free amidst the forum of other users’ secrets. An addition tab, called “Nearby,” allows you to view posts by students in close geographic proximity and even shows the relative distance of the user in miles.

Like Facebook, Whisper is an interactive network; users receive notifications if another user has commented on their post, and can even respond to these comments and carry out a conversation with another user in an anonymous setting. In this way, college students can express themselves and garner support from other users who can view, “heart” or reply to posts with similar feelings or concerns.

 

With the recent privacy controversy that has milled about such monster sites as Google and the Path app, skeptics may argue that nothing electronic can remain completely confidential. Yet, Heyward finds the beauty of Whisper in the absence of tracking information or data collection that could lead a post back to a specific user.

“It’s a means through which people can express their personal thoughts on social media without judgment,” Luciana Salles ’14 said.

Currently, over 250,000 students are using the app nationwide and this number is rapidly growing. It is fair to say that Whisper has become a haven and secret retreat for many students.

 

 

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