“Leave a constructive message,” says the Sarahah app. Based on the Arabic term sarahah, which means ‘honesty’, this app has been designed by Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq. Tawfiq defends the app – saying that it was designed with the purpose of getting ‘constructive feedback’ from the people around us.
It is a good thought indeed. People around us observe us, communicate and form opinions. They often have things that they want to say to us – but are unable to, due to various reasons. The ‘anonymity clause’ this app comes with has opened the space for everyone to reach out to us – and say the things they couldn’t, otherwise.
From love confessions to sweet nothings, from compliments to criticism, from lost friendships to new crushes – this app enables us to say everything. The messages can be mean, funny, interesting, humorous, anecdotal – basically anything under the sun.
Sadly, within a week, this app has given rise to cyber bullying. People have been abusive, derogatory and all kinds of filthy. A simple Google search would suffice. The ‘mask’ which this app allows us to wear has, in fact, revealed our ugliest faces. There is hardly any ‘constructive’ feedback.
Initially, I sent an ‘elitist snub’ to this app. I feel it is just a reflection of a new-age social problem we all are facing -‘social (media) approval’. We are all too involved in seeking likes, shares, comments and reactions on our posts. It has become such an integral part of our lives that we have second thoughts about how we look if, for instance, a profile picture gets less than 50 likes. Our ‘goodness’ is determined by how many people actually liked our post!
What we actually fail to recognise is the lack of any ‘genuineness’ in these likes. The Sarahah app falls into the same traps. On one hand, it opens doors for cyber bullying – on the other, it has made it extremely easy to pass on patronising flattery.
The app is all over the place. Everyone is posting their account links on Facebook walls. It’s cool – it’s a personal choice. You want to try it – so try it. You seek social approval – okay. You need ten people to tell you that you are good – cool. So be it.
But I would request you to ask yourself a couple of questions. Why were you so defensive about posting it with captions like ‘sometimes it’s okay to be stupid’, ‘just trying because nothing to do’, ‘because I am jobless and stupid’? Why were you feeling uneasy when, for the first few hours, you had zero messages? Why did you feel a sudden adrenaline rush to see a flattering message and made sure that you shared the screenshot within ten seconds?
Think! What if all this didn’t happen? What if people said horrible things about you? What if you too became a victim of cyber bullying ? What if they pulled you down? What if?
Under the pretense of being ‘too intelligent for this stuff’ or ‘too good for flattery’ aren’t we actually still just seeking social approval, deep inside? There’s no doubt that being accepted and loved is the best feeling – but is the hullabaloo about Sarahah just that?
I couldn’t refrain from trying it out eventually. But when I later asked these questions to myself, the answers weren’t pleasing.