Whisper is by no means a new app, it was launched in 2012. I believe I looked at it awhile back and didn’t think anything about it. I took a closer look recently after an article crossed my newsfeed featuring some of the funnier confessions. Being a girl who loves a good meme and a good confession I figured what the heck. Then my parent radar went off.
I have a tween, and while she’s currently not interested in phone, she loves technology. She spent her summer learning some basic coding, and playing with animation software to make short (silly) movies.
The company pulls in 100,000 new Whisper posts every hour during peak times. It boasts about being anti-Facebook and being where people can safely reveal their inner feelings. Personally? I’m finding it to be a merge between Snapchat and Kik. It’s being used to hook up (and to be paid for it). It’s being used for self esteem boosts (see how many people will heart my picture compared to the other girl in my school -yes I saw that one).
The first thing Whisper asked when I logged in was “Do you go to school?”
Wait, what? No. No I don’t. I checked to see if our school was listed (it’s not) and all of the recommended schools based on geolocation (yeah there’s that too) were colleges. So now I have an app asking about my school, tracking by gps, and that’s when I noticed I can narrow down whispers to people as close as a mile to my current location? Oh wait – you can also chat with random strangers privately and send personal photos.
This is when I took a deep breath in, deep breath out and dove in.
Immediately (based on my location range of 25 miles – yikes) I find people who are talking about sushi, sex with their teacher, feeling sad…wait. You want me to go back? Yeah. There’s a female that has been posting dramatically about wanting to do very adult things with her teacher. There’s also women propositioning themselves for sexual services with quotes like “Looking to be down on my knees for the next two hours.” or “Need cash…will work for it.”
There are people reaching out “Mom looking to talk to another mom for advice…”, there are people bored at work, and there are people telling random secrets. However based on some of what I’ve seen I needed to do a test (or three). One test was intentionally flirty – because I wanted to know if this app would get all ghetto Craigslist personal on me (and it fulfilled that – yikes). The other two were slightly confessional, slightly silly. Out of all three posts throughout the two days, I only had one person reach out in chat that wasn’t looking to have sex with me.
I was happily propositioned from both of these posts. With the “I don’t want to adult today” post – it’s not even clear if I’m female or male. Yet every reply I got was from a man telling me exactly how he could make my day better, and a handful included pictures. They want to meet right now. Today. Take off of work. Don’t pass Go. Just come over right now and get between my legs. Yikes.
The gritty review: Here’s the deal. The concept of this app is cute. I love the idea of a safe anon confessional. No one ever has to know who I am. I can even change my user name any time I want to. However, if I’m tied into a school, I can’t fathom how this wouldn’t become a bullying tool. Something used to slut shame girls or share that picture that she thought was only for your eyes. I’ve watched the videos about how kids promise they’ll never chat or meet anyone online, but I’ve had a few way too young boys reach out to me and tell me how they love older women. Yuck.
As an adult, I could lose some time browsing it. Laughing or feeling sad for people. Heck, maybe even reach out to someone in chat to let them know they are not alone in something. That’s what society should do – hold each other up. If your kid wants it though, I don’t recommend it. I think if you find it on their phone you need to have a talk with them.
With any app or social network, I always advice parents to try it out first. If you try it, like it, and feel like your kid is fine. That’s okay. Otherwise, hold off. They will survive without one more social network in their life.