Sarahah: When an app tells us more about us

Sarahah application

It so happened that on a fine morning, I woke up to see my Facebook newsfeed flooded with status updates of my friends. They had all shared their usernames for this new app called Sarahah. This curious app has a curious feature – it allows users to receive messages from anonymous people. It has a very soothing visual effect – a turquoise backdrop and white colour font. It made me think, “What a nice little app. It certainly won’t hurt to try.” So I registered. After a few friendly messages, I found these three users anonymously trying to confess their unspoken dreams, desires and feelings about me. I secretly smiled seeing the messages until I received a particular message that had direct remarks on my body. That is when I realised that this seemingly fun app also has a dark side to it. It was time to stop my curiosity.

Meanwhile, Sarahah was already spreading like a forest fire. What amused me was not the number of fools like me happily sharing their Sarahah messages, but a glimpse it offered into our very human nature.

Sarahah with envelop

Perhaps a common trait innate in all of us but never openly accepted is the desire to be loved and be adored. And this was the most dominant trait observed in almost all the users. People in my friend list were (still are) absolutely thrilled to discover their secret admirers. Although they would try to be modest or candid in their captions while sharing secret messages, I could easily see how flattered they actually were. What I observed is that vanity in us could never be a good thing then, since it will always demand to be fuelled. Or why else would we share a message meant only for our eyes with the entire world?

While many indulged in the harmless messages of love confessions, there were a few for whom anonymity came as a boon to spurn abuse and derogatory comments. I knew this was bound to happen sooner or later. One of my friends shared long status updates slamming her Sarahah haters; while other articles have written about the disturbing messages many teen girls received including a recent rape threat received by a girl who posted it on Twitter. Unfortunately, I feel that along with the desire to love, the desire to hurt runs equally deep.

But there is still hope for us, I think. A considerable number of people also put up long status updates openly condemning the vain use of Sarahah and warning of its potential risk.

Sarahah has been put to use by people according to their personal need or greed. It is not to be forgotten that its creator Zain al-Abdin Tawfiq had a good intention while making it. He had designed it for the workplace scenario, where employees could give constructive feedback to their employers or fellow employees without hesitation. Funny to note that while one human harboured a good intention, so many others worked to make sure the intention lost its purpose.


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