Be Smart About Sarahah
“You’re so sweet and humble, and you’re gorgeous inside and out.”
"You are a great singer.”
“You are so pretty and nice.”
“You are an amazing dancer.”
“I hate you.”
And, with those last three words, every nice thing that people said to me before seemed to disappear from my memory. There was more after that in the comment, and none of it was nice.
A new app that has become a mass trend among teens is Sarahah. The name of the app comes from the Arabic word “honesty.” The app allows people to anonymously leave comments on a person’s home page. With the most recent Snapchat update, Sarahah became linked up, allowing users to pin links to pictures and post those links on their stories. Then, all people have to do is slide up on the post and open the link to leave a comment. The app was originally designed to be an outlet for office workers to give and receive anonymous feedback in the office without having the fear of their bosses’ retribution. Now, teens have gained an interest in the app.
As you can imagine, and as I sadly found, while you can receive many nice comments on Sarahah, you can also receive mean and hateful ones. The anonymous part of the app opens up a world of opportunities for teens to leave hateful comments and never have to face the consequences of being identified. It is very easy to get discouraged by cruel or untrue statements like when someone--who I will probably never identify, and who probably never have the courage to deal with whatever their problem is directly with me to my face--says something like what I received above. Who hates me? Why? It started to bother me and I began to have worry about this on my mind. It made me question who my friends were and whether or not they actually wanted to spend time with me, all because of three silly words that someone else didn’t have the courage to handle the right way. I realized that the stupid comment was starting to affect that I viewed myself and on one really down day, I started to question my value to my friends. I was also mad at myself because I had talked about the app with my parents, but till went ahead and tried it out so I could see what people were talking about. Well, I sure found out.
I started to look around on the internet to get more information on Sarahah and found that I wasn’t alone in my experience of getting mean, negative comments. It turned out I was lucky. I only got one stupid, mean comment, and it wasn’t even that bad. One article I found quoted a boy who had been left a racist comment and told that he should be lynched. Another teen called it a “breeding ground for hate.” I talked to some of my friends about it and they had received negative comments too. I started to realize that the people saying mean things were cowards. They did not have the courage to say how they felt about something to a person’s face, or they were using the app to take out anger they have at themselves on other people. So why is this important, beyond the mean words and the fact that you can just delete the app? It’s because sure, you can delete the app, but you can’t delete your memory of what was said. I think of it like crumpling up a piece of paper: you can undo the crumpled up ball, but you can never really straighten out all the wrinkles.
Those wrinkles are a big problem. As I found in my research for my positive self-image program Self-ValYOU, negative self-image is one of the major problems facing teens today. For example, negative body image is one of the top clinical predictors of eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts. The bad feelings from negative comments on Sarahah can cause a lot of harm emotionally as well as mentally. I work very hard to practice positive self-talk and use tools all the time to turn around negative thoughts to positive ones, so I am usually pretty strong in that department. If Sarahah could get me down, as a person who works to mentor other people on positive self-image, what could it do to people who aren’t as aware of that?
Don’t get me wrong, I have now tried to look at the bright side and focus on the loving, kind, and awesome things people said to me and how good those things made me feel, because I only got one or two negative comments. I’m grateful that I identified what was going on right away, and I decided to stop using the app. What can I say, it was research. If you have this app and receive any hurtful comments, delete them. Think very hard about getting rid of Sarahah or, if you are going to keep it, you HAVE to keep in mind your self-worth and that your identity is NOT hooked in to what other anonymous people think of you. Smart Girls don’t let cowards who won’t say things to their face, and hide behind a screen, get them down. Be a Smart Girl, and be smart about Sarahah.