The Burden of Brighten


Around two weeks before winter break, one of my friends invited me to join Brighten. The concept was a good one: send genuine (and anonymous) compliments to ~brighten~ someone’s day. And for those two weeks, the app consumed my life. I quickly added my friends, not to be left out of this spurring social media craze, and sent quirky compliments. But throughout this experience I was always waiting for the shoe to drop. And oh did it drop. Hard.

For the first four days of having the app, it was fine, nice even. Every time I got a compliment I smiled, and it did in fact make my day better. But then it started to get weird. Anonymous people would ask me who I liked and why I did certain things: questions that I would have graciously answered if not in an anonymous setting.

The more of these questions I received, the worse I felt. Instead of brightening my day, the app started to  become a nightmare. While I laughed it off and said that it was fine, just people joking around, it still concerned and confused me. Why are people saying this stuff about me? Moreover, I didn’t want other people to make assumptions on me based on people’s anonymous comments, sorry, compliments.

The problem with the app was the anonymity of it. The anonymous aspect never works out. Just think about People always want to know who said it, why they said it and if they really meant it.

If you can’t say something to someone face to face, is it something that you should be saying anonymously?

Brighten had such a meteoric rise because of the niceness about it. Yet it fell so abruptly when people started to become malicious. No matter the good intentions of the app, people would have always found a way to use it badly. The anonymity of it all provided a buffer between the author and the recipient, allowing the author to break the cardinal rules of life taught to everyone as kindergarteners: is it kind, is it true, is it necessary?

Is it kind? Maybe it is your intention to be kind but will the other person receive it the same way you want them too?

Is it true? It might be true but is it something that you think should be shared with numerous people?

Is it necessary? Chances are it isn’t necessary if you are using an app that thrives off of the anonymity of it.

My suggestion? Next time an app like this comes around, just think of those cardinal rules of life and, hopefully, we will all be a little more careful.