On A Generation Seeking Attention The Wrong Way: Sarahah And Mental Health

If you don’t know what Sarahah is, then welcome to the 21st century. No, we don’t have flying cars, yet.

If you know what Sarahah is, then I offer you my condolences. For several months, I had to scroll through my Newsfeed at God-speed, in order to find posts that actually matter.

Sarahah is an entertainment website-turned-app created by Saudi Arabian developer Zain al-Abidin Tawfiq. It operates as a low-key social network where you can post on each other’s accounts, anonymously. Tawfiq wanted the space to be a hub of positivity. Even though most people want to be honest, the fear of visible digital footprints restricts them. It became a high-rated app across several countries, amassing a user base of over 85 million.

I could never bring myself to make an account. Though, I will admit that I came very close. Somehow, I never saw the point of it. The greater majority of messages could be categorized as: a) thirst texts, b) appreciation posts, c) aggressive hate.

For a: If you really want badly written love poems from strangers, just take a trip into your Others folder. Only a supremely intelligent human being would profess their undying-Laila-Majnu-level love anonymously (!!!) Boo, get a grip.

For b: WHY CAN YOU NOT APPRECIATE SOMEBODY FACE-TO-FACE?! I want to know which police force is booking civilians for paying compliments. You don’t need a third-party app to tell me my nose has a nice shape. I mean, come on!

For c: Haters are cowards. They thrive on anonymity. Which is why you make an app for it to be easier for them to spread hatred (?????) Am I dumb, or does this make absolutely no sense?

However, as much as I call bullshit on the users, I studied to find out what makes us wreck havoc on ourselves, voluntarily. The answer is that, we want attention. The form does not matter. Our sense of validation is no longer restricted to feel-good texts. In the 21st century, even hatred validates us. In fact, we love it so much, Tawfiq did not have to spend a lot of money on marketing for Sarahah. We did it for him. This article speaks about how Snapchat’s update, allowing users to post links in their stories, sent Sarahah’s page-views skyrocketing.

While incognito tabs are a blessing in terms of porn and an overflowing cache of cookies, it isn’t exactly the best idea when dealing with people. Attention is a drug that has been growing like cancer, beneath the keys of our laptop. What Sarahah did was grant toxic access to both parties- the ones spreading hatred, and the ones being hated upon. The Bully would write long, vulgar, uncouth texts, and the Bullied would post that on their wall with a response. The loop continued until the day users grew tired of the app, the same way people grow tired of most things they once loved.

I know there will be new applications to replace this one; new Blue Whales, White Panthers, SarahLOL, et all. I know that we are too far gone to know what is good for us. But I also believe is that I would not want to immortalize all the racism, vulgarity, and hatred in a profile that I might stumble upon from time to time.

If you didn’t already know, the Shop of Mental Health has a very meagre stock left. Growing a spine costs much less than lifelong therapy. Take a hint. Save yourself.