I’ve had my experiences with anonymous messaging apps since I was in the fifth grade. There have been apps like Yik Yak, which are geared toward college students, but I have distinct memories of an app that was going around my middle school, which was solely being used for gossip. There weren’t even any memes or jokes going around, just friends trash-talking each other. My name was brought up on this app, and I was absolutely distraught; I thought it was the end of the world. I lost friends over this app and I had to watch my friends bully each other. It was like a war broke out in my middle school. I know firsthand the effects of anonymous communication apps.
When I heard an app called Fizz was going around campus, I knew it would be used to make mean and offensive comments. It was being broadcasted as a way for Fairfield students to communicate with each other, but I had a feeling that things would spiral within a week, a few days even. I was debating whether or not I should get the app because I was curious to see what people were doing with it. I had a glimpse of hope that maybe … just maybe, now that we’re adults, we won’t bully each other. I eventually got it and for the first five minutes of scrolling through Fizz, I was surprised. It was funny. Sure, some of it was out-of-pocket remarks that provoked more of a gasp than others, but I didn’t hate it.
This excitement was short-lived once a comment was made about the clothes a person on campus wears. It started as a single comment but invited more people to make hurtful comments because everyone now thought it was okay. There were comments about how people dressed and their physical appearances, along with insults to sports teams on campus and even obscene comments about Daniel and Grace Tully Dining Commons employees. There were comments made about my friends, so not only did I know the feeling from my name being brought up years ago, I had to watch my friend’s reactions to seeing themselves spoken about cruelly on the app. It’s easy to ignore a post and believe it’s only a joke when comments are made about other people, but once a comment is made about you, it’s a different story. That’s the value of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
I’ve since deleted the app, but I’ve now heard that the original entertainment has died down. People now use it to see where parties are or if anyone is selling club tickets. Apparently, there is less bullying, and it’s turned more into a Yik Yak style of app.
I think any anonymous conversation app is extremely dangerous unless it has enough preventative measures coded into it, but I’m not entirely sure if that’s a possibility. In a room full of people, there’s always one person who’s willing to mean. And when one person is willing to be mean, that opens up a can of worms that is hard to close. While there are parts of Fizz that I think are funny, there is an underlying issue of bullying and cruelty that I think should be addressed.