Lantern file graphic
I remember when I downloaded Whisper from the App Store. It was Christmas Break, I was sitting around with my younger siblings spending time around the fire. The App Store suggested I download Whisper, a free app that allows its users to share secrets anonymously. Being completely dependent upon Apple’s suggestions for the direction in which my life should go, I immediately downloaded it.
We sat around laughing at the posts for half an hour or so before getting ready for dinner out with the rest of the family. When I got back a day or two early for the beginning of this semester, I figured a laugh wouldn’t do any harm. Rather than the jokes, though, I noticed the sincerity of the posts. It reminded me of a time before parents had Facebook, before the online world became a place where people had to market themselves to the satisfaction of parents, admissions offices and potential employers.
It reminded me of a time when people were free to be themselves without worrying about judgment being spread across the Internet at the touch of a button.
Being 27, I can tell you it was a different time. They were days in the shadows of Ground Zero and friends being sent halfway across the world. And yet those things only drew our generation closer. If I saw someone at a gas station I wanted to talk to, I could walk up to her and plan to meet up at one of the local school’s parties that weekend, without it being thought strange. And I’d see her there and hang out with her.
We didn’t have invite lists. We had our cliques – our small circles that we came and went with – but more than anything we had each other. True, every house party became a block party and was broken up by the cops, and every weekend you ran for your life. That was just part of being young though.
Life grew in all dimensions, rather than an ever-increasing enforcement of the looking-glass self, we were perpetually freer and freer.
And here I was looking at something that so closely resembled those days gone by; I couldn’t help but to be drawn into it. There are plenty of judgmental people on Whisper. More importantly, it gets us around those people who have placed us in boxes, which we are expected to be satisfied within.
Anytime there is a movement of freedom there is resistance. It’s simply a fact of life, that those who benefit from the status quo oppose any change to it. And those persons consume those open resources of Whisper freedom to the detriment of others at times.
That does not undermine the importance of Whisper though; it only shows us exactly why it is such an important part of our social interactions.
One meant to drive us forward, by allowing us those things which the Internet’s ever-growing social effects have left in the past. Perhaps in this age of growing divisions of all sorts it is exactly what we need to remind us who we are, and who we dream of being.