anonymous

Anonymous Social Networks 101

The internet began as an anonymous place. Chat rooms asked us ‘a/s/l’ and I’m sure I am not the only one who pretended to be a completely different age, sex, and location than I was. There was something about trying on a new identity.

As social networks using our real names came into play, it was harder to be anonymous. Your potential employer or your mom could be looking at what you just said or shared.

It was only a matter of time before the internet cycled back, recoiled from too much sharing. Apps and websites where you can be anonymous have come back into popularity.

We’ve previously blogged about YikYak but there are a couple of other anonymous sites to know about:

Whisper

So this network combines anonymous with location data. So you can share your secret thought and other people can like or comment… but you can also see other people’s secrets that are near you (1 mile radius, 5 mile radius, etc.) The secrets range from silly to serious:

whisperconfession1

whisperconfession2Something about having the image with the thought makes them stand out a bit, nice to read on a mobile device. And since this is an app, that makes sense.

 

Reddit

Reddit is a bit of a longer form social network with writing and links. You can see what’s trending overall by going to the homepage:

reddit-homepage
The more interesting part of Reddit though are the subreddits. For example, you can join a community about Game of Thrones (at www.reddit.com/r/gameofthrones) and discuss you interest in this show in detail with people all over the world.

Clearly works well if you are more verbose, or want to share a link and get comments on it.

Some people chose to have an active anonymous account while others use ‘throwaway’ accounts for a one time confession.

Anonymous social networks are similar to regular social networks:

  • Typically ordered by most recently updated content
  • Can participate on your phone only for some, others you can access on your computer too
  • You can like/heart/upvote things that you like to show support
  • You can leave comments for more detailed feedback.

Of course, sometimes anonymity brings out the worst in people in the way of cyberbullying but honestly, in these communities, I have found mostly support for my ideas too weird or dark to share on regular networks. (I know it’s sad but I used to be a little nervous to go on Reddit but, much like staying away from the seedy streets in your city, is a nice place for the most part of you don’t go searching for the bad stuff.)

As we figure out what is and isn’t acceptable to share with our real life friends on social media, I see the popularity of these sites growing. I personally love Reddit because there’s no real ads, no messaging, and I can just browse information… and contribute when I feel like. Personally I appreciate that because of the internet, there is a lid for every pot.

Ride the Yak: Why YikYak is Possibly My New Favorite App

I’m generally accustomed to being the “in-the-know” person in my circle of peeps (unless we’re talking Twitter or Seinfeld references), but during our recent Boston trip, our friend Matt totally won the “Have you heard about ______?” game. Matt introduced Nicole and I to a little app called Yik Yak. It is AWESOME, and kind of addictive. It follows SnapChat’s model of “leave no trace,” which people seem to find more and more appealing lately.

In hindsight, my brother definitely already tried explaining Yik Yak to me while he was at Bowdoin (college students are the target demographic, and the app is most popular on the East Coast), but, I clearly was only half-listening.

How does Yik Yak work? Yik Yak is more or less the social media love-child of Twitter and Whisper. You can post an update of up to 200 characters, and its completely anonymous. You can’t upload any pictures, so its an all-text app. It also uses your location, so you can only see yaks (“yaks” are to Yik-Yak what tweets are to Twitter) that’ve been sent out within a 5 mile radius. If you’re in a city, there’s a LOT of material coming in throughout the day. If you’re in a more rural area, it’s unfortunately less exciting. Especially when no one else has YikYak.

This is what YikYak looks like from my parents' home in Milbridge.

This is what YikYak looks like from my parents’ home in Milbridge.

As one might imagine, coming back from an introduction to this app in Boston and then traveling back to Trenton/Bar Harbor/Milbridge, Maine was a bit disappointing. We’ve probably seen the same 3 Yaks over the course of the month (most of them from visiting people complaining that no one here uses Yik Yak). I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that this changes in the next month or so, because it’s a great source of mindless amusement.

Seagull_Yak

To interact with others on YikYak, you can upvote, downvote and/or reply to something they’ve written (which also happens anonymously). A neat self-monitoring tool of YikYak is that if a post gets a certain amount of downvotes, it will disappear entirely (so if someone posts something especially inflammatory, other people can downvote it to make it go away). And, as you might imagine, people tend to hide behind the safety of anonymity to say/do some negative things.

The Dark Side:

The intended age for Yik Yak use is 17 and older, but as you can imagine, that doesn’t keep out the younger kids. These kiddos (and the college students, I’d guess) are using it for cyberbullying purposes, and apparently bomb threats. Despite being an anonymous post, there are ways to trace it back to a certain phone when the content is a clear threat to others.

Instead of knocking the app itself, or using our energy to forbid kids to use social media, doesn’t it make more sense to educate them about respecting each other? Just because you CAN be mean to someone (with no consequences) doesn’t mean you should. And there’s really no age limit on that philosophy.

 

Sad, but true.

Sad, but true.

 

 

What I Learned Writing 50,176 Words In One Month

You may remember about 30 days ago, we posted that we were tackling National Novel Writing Month.

How did it go?

Alice got part way through but realized she wanted to get more organized and do this during a time of year when she didn’t have so many family obligations going on. (If you’ve ever been to the state of Maine in March, you’ll completely understand her point.)

I decided that despite missing about ten days of writing due to a business trip and Thanksgiving, I was going to do this anyway.

Consistent productivity? Nope. Got it done? Yes.

Consistent productivity? Nope. Got it done? Yes.



A few interesting things:

If you finish, you’re a winner.

One of my writer friends scoffed at the idea that you could write a book in a month. Probably at the way I would scoff at a beginner who told me they were going to design a website in a month.

Look, this isn’t Shakespeare. I know that, everyone who attempts this knows that. For about a week, you think your little book is going to be a best seller but by week two, you realize you are in the trenches and you just need to survive.

The point of an intense period with a deadline is to get you started. It’s like doing a Detox; it’s not something you are going to do indefinitely but something you do for a period of time to better yourself and maybe have some kind of positive outcome. When I submitted my word count and got my little winner badge this morning, I was pretty excited and did feel like a winner, even if I would need years of editing and rewriting before it might be finally published.

You learn to tolerate spelling and other small errors.

I’m pretty good about not letting small things bother me. A dirty mug on the sink, the idea of finishing a work project I thought I’d get done today tomorrow, I can let it go.

But when you are on a tear and see a spelling error you could easily stop and fix now get underlined, you have a dilemma: deal with the small thing now (what every productivity expert tells you to do) or keep going with your ideas and worry about that stuff later (what you actually need to do). I changed the spelling of my main character’s name and her workplace twice accidentally but that’s what ‘Find and Replace’ is for during editing. Just get it down!

At one point I wrote something terrible like ‘and there was no putting Pandora back in that box.” I rolled my eyes at myself and just kept going.



The story writes itself once you’ve helped it along.

At a certain point, you’ll notice if you get your mind in the habit of doing something (like writing 500 words in the morning before work), your brain seems to work on it on the subconcious level. I say this because otherwise how do you explain that you suddenly write a paragraph even you aren’t expecting.

An example? I was writing at one point when one of my shy characters stood up for herself and left the room full of people. I was as surprised as if I had been watching a movie… except I was actually writing this. You go Clara! I wanted to say. I was proud that she did something I didn’t expect her to be capable of doing. It was very weird. The character I didn’t like got arrested. I knew you couldn’t trust that Buffy!

I would say all this is like an out of body experience: something kind of cool but a little unsettling.

Don’t let getting behind depress you.

If you notice my graph above, you’ll see I wrote almost half the novel in the last five days. It’s amazing how motivating a self imposed deadline with a badge you get at the end can be. If you want to keep your sanity, I wouldn’t go so far as suggesting writing 20,000 words in three days but know that it can be done. It is physically possible. But they won’t be Shakespeare.

Congratulations to all the other NaNoWriMo participants. What am I going to do with all my spare time? I’m sure I’ll find something!

Curious what the book is about? It has no title but it’s about a woman who starts an anonymous dating blog and it suddenly gets national attention. Will she come out as who she really is? Or will she have to remain behind a pen name forever?

I’d like to thank J. of Blog Sexier/Budgets Are Sexy for his tips three years ago about starting a blog that made me think ‘What if I would have?” and Matt Baya for some technical tips helping me figure out how someone would carefully stay anonumous blogging. I’d also like to thank Derrick Sekulich for cooking me dinner and otherwise helping me keep life running without one complaint. I’d also like to thank several Facebook friends who contributed bad dating stories for my character to blog about. I had many in my past but apparently not enough to fill this book.