Millions of us use social networks to share our thoughts and experiences every day. But how honest are we about what we’re really feeling behind dutiful ‘likes’, family snaps and cheerful status updates?
Pencourage www.pencourage.com is an entirely new, diary-style social media journal which guarantees total anonymity has seen users signing up in the thousands to tell the truth, vent, and confess through shocking, touching and hilarious daily revelations.
Since diary-style platform Pencourage (www.pencourage.com) launched just two weeks ago, over 2,200 people have signed up and nearly 1000 entries have been posted. Primarily written by women, the site’s anonymous disclosures – whether they be about exam and worries, parenting conundrums, contemplating infidelity or even admitting a preference of breastfeeding over sex – provide a raw, unfiltered snapshot of thoughts that would never see the light of day on personal blogs, Facebook or even Twitter.
The premise for the network is: ‘One day we hope your life is as wonderful as you pretend it is on Facebook’. The team behind the new social network, who remain anonymous just like the people using their site, explain: “Ironically, in a time where ‘over-sharing’ seems to be the norm, less seems known about what really goes on in people's lives. Pencourage.com was set up to bridge the gap between what people say on social networks and what they actually think.”
The site works by allowing users to post anonymously. People can set up a profile with a made-up username and are encouraged to use any image that reflects their personality, rather than a real photo. Each day, they can write a personal journal of up to 200 words, which is shared on the site. They can also pin websites, link to photos and upload video and songs that reflect their stories.
Fellow journal writers are able to comment on others’ posts and offer encouragement or advice. The anonymous nature of the network means that people can be honest with each other, without fear of reprisal from friends, family or employers. As such, Pencourage.com gives people the unique opportunity of sharing their experiences in confidence, while at the same time connecting with fellow journal writers.
According to Dr. Michael Sinclair, Consultant Counselling Psychology, Clinical Director at City Psychology Group (who has no financial involvement with pencourage); "At a time when many of us are feeling overwhelmed with meeting all the demands and pressures of modern society, we are experiencing increasing levels of stress and feelings of low self-worth and low self-confidence. Social media provides a forum to escape this reality, to live in a fantasy of perfection where our feelings of isolation, disconnectedness, and inadequacy and failure can be redressed. Many of us crave attention, recognition, praise and success and promoting a digital image of ourselves as happy and our lives as perfect is one way that we can ensure that others may notice us with admiration and respect. A self-perpetuating cycle can start to evolve as we experience further feelings of low self-worth as we read the wall-posts and tweets of others who seem to have more happiness and perfection than us – we then competitively strive to raise the bar and readdress these feelings further by toping the last post we read, uploading yet another perfect image of us online."
He adds about pencourage; "The popularity of this new social media site is not surprising at all. We work very hard presenting ourselves to the world online, pretending and attempting to be happy all the time which is exhausting and ultimately unfulfilling. The more we try to be happy, the less happy we actually are. Omitting the less desirable imperfections of our lives from the conversations with our ‘friends’ online leads to less opportunity to feel empathised with – resulting in a greater sense of disconnection from others."
Pencourage.com demonstrates that no matter how unique people feel their stories are, there are thousands of other people meeting similar challenges. The network’s premise of guaranteed anonymity encourages people to finally get things off their chest and have the courage to engage in honest communication about the issues that matter to them the most.
Pencourage.com (www.pencourage.com) was set up to bridge the enormous gulf between what people actually say and what they really think. It’s a social network site where people are ensured absolute anonymity, encouraging them to share their innermost thoughts and feelings, secure in the knowledge that no personal details will ever be published unless they specifically want them to be. It's as close to mind reading as you'll get.
Every day, the writer can upload 200 words to tell their true story in a personal, shared online journal. They can also pin relevant websites to each journal entry, store pictures appropriate to their stories, view video they may have taken and upload songs that remind them of the times they are writing about. Pencourage.com allows people to create a much larger, more honest picture of their life. The network has already generated a huge amount of attention, with over 10,000 visits to the site, more than 2,200 people signed up, and almost 1000 diary entries posted.