For a generation of social media addicts, the only thing you don't share online is the stuff you don't want anyone to ever find out. Enter Secret. The brainchild of former Square and Google Employees David Byttow and Chrys Bader, Secret is an iPhone app that is like Post Secret for the Instagram age. It's a social network based upon whispering sub rosas into the ear of a stranger.
Here's how it works. Once installed, the Secret app scans your iPhone contacts for people who are already on the network, and then links you into a completely anonymized circle with them, without ever telling you who they are. When you're in, you swipe through a stream of secrets composed of text, photos, and colors that have been either shared by your circle, or liked by members in your circle. You can like these secrets, comment on them, or post your own; when you comment, the only indication that it's you is a randomly chosen icon that changes in every secret. Otherwise, it's 100% anonymous (for some interesting information about how Secret works, read this post).
Like any social network, Secret posts range from the meta to the mundane, the perverse to the profound. Some secrets don't seem to be much different from posts you might see on any other social network, while others are just jokes. If your Secret circle is anything like mine, there will no doubt be a few "I just farted" messages, too. Even so, there seems to be a prevailing theme of vulnerability and confession in Secret that makes it seem less superficial than Facebook or other social networks.
The top Secret in my feed right now says, "I think I just went on a first date with my future wife." There's a tremulous hopefulness to this sentiment, and it is immediately relatable: everyone can understand that feeling of excitement and infatuation and hope that comes from meeting someone you think you could love for the first time. It's a potential prophecy that can't be said out loud, lest it be jinxed. It's an admission you could never post on Facebook, lest it destroy the very thing it wishes to create.
Immediately following that secret in my feed, though, is this: an admission from a married mother that she's been having a one-night stand every year since high school with her best friend, and her husband doesn't know. Drilling down into the comments, the author of the Secret isn't shameful of her confession, which is perhaps what makes it a secret to begin with.
Almost like a meta-commentary on the social media age we live in, Secret is a social network where the only thing anyone knows about you for sure is what skeletons you have hanging in your closet. You can download Secret for free on your iPhone here.