[Technology] What the hell is Sarahah? [Written by Brandon Williams]

In the recent weeks, there has been a new app/website combination sweeping the country, an app that once again allows people to air out their thoughts and opinions about individuals, anonymously, prompting people to screenshot and share these responses with the teeming masses on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter(for those of us who still use that sort of thing lol) and the difficult to pronounce name of this app is “Sarahah”. Launched in June, by a man named Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq, a developer out of Saudi Arabia, the app has amassed over 10 million downloads in the Google Play Store, and while the iTunes Store doesn’t say how many downloads the app has, it does show that it has 1.12k ratings and it’s #2 in social network app downloads. With its increasing popularity, first gaining momentum in its homeland of Saudi Arabia then gravitating to Canada, the United States, and reportedly is currently building momentum in India, the numbers seem to be on a nice and steady rise…for now anyway.

The way it works is, once you download the app and register, you are provided with your own “web page” and address that people can use to contact you. Once they follow the address, they are taken to a very simple screen with a box to input text and the simple instructions above it stating “Leave a constructive message :)” and the user can type a little message telling you however they feel about you. Now, if you’re thinking to yourself “Well gee, Brandon, this sounds remarkably close to the old Formspring/ask.fm website people used to use” well you’re thinking is correct, it is almost EXACTLY the same thing. The defining difference being that those sites were more based on a ‘question and answer’ dynamic where Sarahah focuses mainly on one sided commentary on you as a person.

According to Tawfiq, the app was initially intended as a means for employees to critique their bosses without fear of losing their jobs or respect, but he thought it would be interesting for regular everyday people to use so he widened his scope. While you do have to have the app to RECEIVE comments, you don’t have to have it to leave them.  All that is needed is the link or the web address to whomever’s day you want to improve or ruin and you’re in business. The big appeal to the app, in my opinion, is the combination of Ego and Mystery. For those of us that have the app, we’re curious to see what people will say about us, good or bad, we want to see these things and if they’re good we like to let these things feed our ego and boost our self-esteem, but  if they’re negative we want to tell somebody how wrong they were about us and defend ourselves, so to speak. And from the other side, it’s the ability to say whatever you want to whoever you like(provided they have the app), with no threat of accountability and full anonymity.

While I do understand the allure of this kind of app, in that as a human I am burdened with an ego and there’s nothing better than having it stroked every now and again(Giggety), I feel that in this day and age we already allow too many people and things into our lives and heads and in that we are too concerned with this idea of necessity to know everything people are thinking. If a person’s opinion or critique of you were really that important, they’d be more than willing and able to confront and address you about it directly rather than hiding behind yet another digital mask, or if the person is genuinely saying positive things that they think about you why would they even want to remain hidden, why not tell you personally so they can see how their positive words have affected you and you can both share in the joy. I’m not condemning or talking down on anyone who has the app, hell I had it myself for a short time, but I decided to get rid of it simply because while the app is intended  for people to leave positive comments and criticisms, we all know the way the world is now and it just seemed like I was leaving myself open to the chance for negativity to attack on yet another platform, when we all have to fight hard enough to avoid it on a day to day basis. That being said, I think this app is going to be pretty fly by night unless they come out with the update that allows you to reply directly to those who left comments, which developers said they have been “studying the option.” I see this app as yet another in a long line of here today, gone tomorrow apps that will soon be replaced by some other attention grabber.