Need to share a secret? There's an app for that

A new app allows you to share your innermost secrets anonymously, Katy Harrington takes a very sneak peak.

Nod if you’ve ever seen a picture of someone’s breakfast, lunch or dinner on social media. What about a Facebook update announcing a friend’s engagement? Or a picture of a new baby only moments after its birth?

Most likely, if you’re generation Y or younger you’ve seen all of those and much more — dirty breakup laundry aired in public, ‘couplies’ taken in bed and if you are on Tinder — more topless gym selfies than you care to recall.

Thanks to Instagram, Facebook, and perhaps to a lesser extent Twitter, we’ve reached peak overshare. Nothing is private, and in the digital age most of us are more than happy to live our lives in full public view. With so much sharing you have to wonder — does anyone have secrets anymore?

A brand new app is hoping to capture the niche in the social media market for secrecy and anonymity. Thoughts Around Me allows you do what no other social media platform has done before — say whatever you want without anyone knowing it’s you. What if you could offload about a colleague, say what you really think about your family or confess that you are cheating on your husband or wife without anyone knowing? Would you?

Six thousand people in the UK have already signed up and I’m one of them. Thoughts Around Me is free and while the interface is a little unusual (no usernames or profile pictures of course) it is easy to use. ‘Thoughts’ (which can also include photos and GIFs) are posted, then given the thumbs up, thumbs down by other users. Using geolocation technology, you can filter results to see the musings of those closest to you. It’s a simple idea — see what your neighbours are thinking and spill the beans yourself.

For example, here are a few thoughts from my neighbourhood: “Whenever I’m not paying attention to anything, my mind goes straight to her. It’s been two years.” “I’m going to tell my father I’m in love with a girl, I hope he’ll love me just the same.”

“I’m a Muslim and I feel people look at me differently. I’m normal and want to feel normal.”

“I have a huge craving to be famous. What can one do?”

Created by London-based 27-year-old entrepreneur Kassem Younis, the test version of the app proved popular amongst tech entrepreneurs. Younis puts its success down to this: “You can say anything you like - — stuff you wouldn’t always share via traditional social media channels. You can express yourself as honestly and freely as you like. It’s a liberating experience”.

Liberating indeed. And it seems people have a lot to get off their chests. Since signing up I’ve read everything on the confessional spectrum from juicy relationship secrets, cheating exes, fetishes, bodily functions, unrequited love, people who are just bored, homesick, hate their jobs, to the most pedestrian thoughts about the weather or what movie someone just saw. According to its maker TAM is “helping people” by allowing them a secure place to “tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth”.

A grander claim is that it “encourages social good”. The press release cites examples of people using TAM to voice opinions on relationship problems, sexism, racism, homophobia, and national and local issues.

While I read those assertions with the same cynicism that I’m sure you are now, after using the app for a while, I began to see evidence that not all of it was marketing hyperbole. Among the foot fetish freaks, moaning partners and bible bashers there were cries of help from those dealing with domestic violence, depression, people who have just found out a loved one was terminally ill and even suicidal thoughts. Hard to know if sharing their problems did any good, but the discussions they sparked seemed positive, encouraging and hopeful, like one big group counseling session.

After greedily consuming other people’s thoughts for a week without sharing any of my own, I began to feel like a voyeur. Crunch time. Sitting in my garden I decide to unburden myself of a thought that’s been worrying me all week. A few seconds later my phone alerted me to a new comment on my thought. It was funny, and while it didn’t solve my problem, it did take my mind off it.

After that, I share four more thoughts ranging from silly to serious. I am strangely heartened by the responses I get back, that strangers not only understand but have the same weird worries, insecurities and questions as I do.

One thought — and I’m hardly giving anything confidential away here by telling you that every month I get my period — is about the dreaded symptoms that come with it. I’m amazed when what follows is an insightful and funny exchange between the sexes. And so I keep going, sharing, saying what’s on my mind, shooting my little secrets out left right and centre — secrets that are safe between me and other six thousand other

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