Yet another app encouraging anonymous feedback has found its way to the main stage of the internet. Just when it felt like the fad that was ask.fm or sayat.me had finally lost relevance, Sarahah cropped up out of nowhere. While ask.fm was more oriented at sending anonymous questions to someone you probably couldn’t ask directly, sayat.me and, more recently, Sarahah, launched with the intent of soliciting feedback from friends and peers with a promise of absolute confidentiality.
However, just like its predecessors, Sarahah fails to meet the intended purpose.
The website’s welcome page says: get honest feedback from your coworkers and friends. The idea is to discover where one can improve, personally and professionally. But of course, this works only when the feedback is genuine — which isn’t always the case.
“What’s the point of asking for feedback when all that most people are going to do is share negative feedback they’ve received, post screenshots of it on Facebook, and vehemently defend their actions? And how often is the feedback genuinely constructive? Most of it is just generic blame or critical analysis”, says Mumbai’s Hargun Suri, 26.
The bottomline? The app endorses hiding behind a computer screen and cackling at someone from the shadows of anonymity with no foreseeable negative consequences. Far from being a medium for helping someone get better, it is being used as a way to troll, condemn, criticise, or simply take the mickey out of an individual.
Then again, trolling and venting out frustration is only the tip of the iceberg. Feedback is perceived differently by different people. To the weak minded, there is a high risk of the vulnerable being exploited, and potentially, even bullied.
As Vinita Banka, 22 yo from Kolkata, puts it, “It’s just another pointless forum for internet trolls and clueless minds to escape from reality and have a go at people who don’t mean anything in their lives. It’s the confessions trend reincarnated in a more vicious and virulent form. Pointless, purposeless and soulless. What’s worse is most of these people can’t take it, they’re equally guilty of endorsing escapism. I sympathise with people on the receiving end of cyberbullying courtesy of these forums, but in truth, most of them had it coming”.
Indeed, it’s a sanctuary – a haven for the weak minded who probably aren’t happy with their lives – an attempt to seek validation from strangers which goes horribly wrong when they don’t get what they’re looking for. Instead, they get limited, generic and vague compliments, while the bulk of the responses range from mindless jokes to borderline, baseless ‘hating’.
So why do the masses catch on such trends?
Psychologist and business coach Ram Vijayakar, 37, Chennai, offered incredible insight on the ponderous question above. He says, “It’s a mixture of circumstances, the need for approval and being deemed desirable and a constant drive for attention that pushes people to try forums like Sarahah and sayat.me. They hope they can get actual compliments and show the world they’re loved or are loveable beings. Humans are social animals, and the bulk of people using these forums are those who are either lonely, have way too much time on their hands, or are generally suffering from a lack of social interaction. It’s essential for anyone using these apps to realise that rather than spend time seeking approval on such forums, it’s better to dedicate that time on bettering yourself through introspection and taking genuine verbal feedback from people that really understand you and have your best interests at heart. It’ll pay greater dividends and you will be inspired to take action”.
So there you have it! Don’t seek validation from anonymous people from behind a computer screen. Seek out the people you trust and love for it’s their opinions that really matter to you. Encourage them to share what’s on their minds, take it in the right spirit and act upon it.
Honest communication is the need of the hour. While it is uncomfortable at times, it’s the undisputed champion of effective communication. Remember, your self-worth should never be determined by what people think of you, but rather by what you believe about yourself. Focus on yourself, work on yourself, seek opinions only when it’s required and you will find you’re not just using time more constructively, but also actively pursuing your happiness in a healthier manner.
Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar
Tanay Iyer is a self-employed content writer, graphic designer and aspiring lifestyle mentor and social entrepreneur. While his pursuits keep him sufficiently occupied in the day, he spends most of the night playing video games, binge watching the latest movies, writing poetry or simply hanging out at a local watering hole. Appreciates memes, puns, witty humour and whatever else tickles the funny bone. Follow him on @tanayiyer93