The New Anonymous Commenting Site That Could Be Detrimental to Mental Health
I find myself explaining to people why I won’t be joining Sarahah. I’ve experienced seven years of verbal and physical bullying at two different schools, a childhood of emotional, physical and sexual abuse from my father, resulting in adult PTSD, depression and anxiety.
For those who don’t know, Sarahah is the latest in a long line of anonymous commenting websites. This one styles itself on being useful in the workplace for enhancing your areas of strength and strengthening areas in need of improvement. It also claims to help you do the same with your friendships and let your friends be honest with you. Take a look at the FAQ and you’ll discover that senders are anonymous unless they choose to be otherwise. At this point in time, you don’t get to respond to messages.
So here we have yet another site that can and, let’s face it, will be used by teenagers on regular basis. And in terms of bullying, I believe this is going to be another virtual minefield. From what I can see and what I have been seeing from others using the site, there is no real monitoring of what is said, no filtering of comments.
I grew up in a world that was pre-internet bullying. We were using Netscape rather than Google. My bullies weren’t anonymous except for the occasional note in my locker, but they weren’t clever enough to disguise their handwriting. They got caught. Internet level anonymous bullies would have pushed my already mentally difficult life over the edge. As an adult who uses Instagram to regularly discuss my physical and mental health, I have to deal with a fair amount of trolls — but they are known in that I can block their accounts. You can’t block someone when you don’t know who they are.
Teenagers faced with anonymous bullies online may be at a risk for suicide when hounded day and night with comments on their apparent worth. I believe this can also extend to vulnerable adults with mental health issues being criticized anonymously. They may question repeatedly who made the comment and why.
Without proper safeguarding, I believe these sites are a breeding ground for cyber bullying and mental health issues.
I can see how they may work well in a properly structured work environment where the use is regulated by management. It would also be beneficial if an independent team were able to monitor usage to ensure it being used properly. But I believe if left out there for anyone to use, the site can add to the torment people who have been bullied have experienced.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo via ipopba.