Millennials are telling their secrets, they just aren't telling them to you. Sure, you think you know everything about this generation that lives life one tweet at a time, but the truth is Millennials are much more private than you think. They only let you see what they want you to see-- whatever fits with their personal brand and whatever will help them get ahead. Yes, a recent USC study reported that Millennials were the generation most likely to share their location with brands if it got them deals--with 56 percent reporting they would hand over that information to companies. But what is often missed when these kinds of reports come out is that to Millennials, opting in to share where you are isn't such a big deal as sharing how you really feel.
More often than not, Millennials have constructed a very public wall around their private thoughts and worries. Those tweets about their beautiful salad and Instagram photos of their incredible hike are deflecting you from seeing how anxious and full of terror they are. As a generation, they may walk cocky, but really they are just big saps trying to figure out how to engage in a world that seems to be crumbling beneath their feet.
A generation can't hold it ALL in forever before they snap! (Lately between bombings, suicides, shootings, and Twitter rantings--we've been seeing a lot of evidence of the generation snapping.) And that's where Whisper comes in. Whisper is a newish app that has captivated Millennials by allowing them to tell their secrets anonymously. Though Whisper only launched in November, the app is already the guardian of millions of secrets uploaded by more than a million users. And it's not just that a bunch of college kids have downloaded the app and never used it. The average user actually logs on six times a day, spending on average 30 minutes scrolling through the secrets, which are communicated in traditional meme style as text over image. With so many places on the web, Facebook included, policing peoples' desire to connect anonymously, Whisper comes as a relief. It allows users to share in a safe space.
So what are Millennials whispering? Everything from the mundane, silly, tragic, and terrifying. The secrets themselves are fascinating. Some for their depth -- like the girl who wasn't ready to tell her friends that her mom had died. Others because they don't really matter at all -- like the guy who stole his sister's Midol for his hangover. The latter secret seems so small that it is surprising that someone would even want to hide it, but a generation so focused on self-branding is unwilling to share anything that doesn't match with their personal image.
Though the secrets are definitely fascinating -- I lost hours just scrolling through them -- but more than the "secrets," it's interesting to watch a very-public generation seek our privacy in a group setting. Millennials are so used to engaging with a group that they are actively seeking ways to be private in a group setting. And though to older generations this may sound like an oxymoron, in the future it is likely that the brands that will resonate the most with Millennials are the ones that successfully solve this quandary.