Whenever I'm consulting with a school, I'm almost always asked about the "next big thing." Everyone wants to know where they should be spending their social media energy. Articles about the decline of Facebook among teens or the recent "hacking" of Snapchat have people wondering which social media sites/apps to use to engage, connect, and communicate with their students. We add new social media options to the mix on a (seemingly) daily basis. In the spirit of "always sharing," here is another platform for mobile social activity:
Whisper is a relatively new app that focuses on anonymous "anti-social" networking. According to their website, Whisper does not "save, store, or collect any information about users." The app is quite similar to Post Secret (remember the postcards!) in that users post images with "confessions." To get a sense of what people are posting on Whisper, take a look at their Pinterest account. Like Twitter, the app allows for direct messaging between users. Instead of going for a state of pseudo-ephemerality like Snapchat, Whisper focuses on semi-anonymous postings.
Of particular interest to those of us who work in higher education is the non-profit arm of Whisper called "Your Voice." According to the Your Voice website, the organization is "dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues on college campuses." Your Voice "provides resources for college students who struggle with issues like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, sexuality, and managing stress."
It's an interesting connection when you pair Whisper with Your Voice. Whisper wants users to share their secrets via public confessions. Your Voice brings a much-needed mental health focus to the social media scene. With a growing college student user-base, Whisper seems like it could be a useful partner (via Your Voice) with campus mental health and counseling services.
In terms of the "next big thing," perhaps it's not just a new site or service. Maybe the NBT is more about nuance and preference. There are still a vast number of people who are using identity-based sites like Facebook and Snapchat is still mostly-ephemeral. Perhaps anonymity, ephemerality, and privacy are the next big thing because they are always fluid constructs...shifting as we shift with them.
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