Anonymity is a recurring topic for public discussion of social media transparency and 21st century privacy. As opposed to popular transparent social media applications (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.), anonymous social media applications like Secret provide another service, the service of “Sharing with friends, anonymously” (www.secret.ly). Kim Mai-Cutler (2014), technology journalist at Techcrunch, describes Secret as “The Facebook for what you are really thinking”.
The emergence of social media has caused a new way for understanding social interaction (Ellison and Boyd, 2013). The way you present yourself to others has changed, because interaction radically occurs online.
When studying and explaining social interaction, the sociologist Goffman (1956) used theatrical terms. He saw people as performing actors trying to achieve recognition and confirmation of their self-representations in every social situation they encounter. Just like in a theatre, he used the terms front stage when actions are visible to an audience and a part of the performance, and back stage to describe when no audience is present. Some argue that it is impossible to be back stage when engaging in online platforms, because everything you do is intentional and something you choose to write or ‘be’ (Sternheimer, 2012). But Secret is different being that your tangible identity (name, username, age, physical appearance etc.) remains anonymous.
When people post a secret on Secret, they are working both front and back stage. They have the ability to partly stage themselves through their secrets, but without risking to be held accountable or judged, and without having their conversation traced or collected to metadata.
I argue that a paradox is created between the front stage and back stage. Somehow posting a secret is a front stage act from a back stage mind.
Cutler, K. (2014). Anonymity’s Moment: Secret is Like Facebook for What You’re Really Thinking. Techcrunch.
Retrieved 25.09.14 from http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/03/anonymitys-moment-secret-is-like-facebook-for-what-youre-really-thinking/
Ellison, N. & Boyd, d. (2013). Sociality through Social Network Sites.
In: Dutton, W. H. (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 151-17
Goffman, E. (1956). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Edinburgh, UK: Penquin books
Sternheimer, K. (2012). Rethinking Goffmans Front Stage/Back Stage.
Everyday Sociology Blog. Retrieved 27.09.14 on http://www.everydaysociologyblog.com/2012/05/rethinking-goffmans-front-stageback-stage.html