Current Trend... And I'm Super Proud!

So I wrote an entire blog post on 15 things I've learned about myself, which I will still post today, but first I want to take a moment to talk about a trend that's going on right now at my old school.

Thursday night, I got a text from an unknown number saying that one of my friends thought I was "pretty fun and invited me to Brighten". My first thought was something along the lines of "Oh great... Facebook found a way to make Farmville-style apps text me. Fantastic." But when I asked this friend about it she explained, "It's an app where you add your friends and they anonymously say nice things about you". I decided out of curiosity to download it in order to just see what it was like.

After some research, I learned that this app was created in 2013 by college student, Austin Kevitch, whose friend had recently passed away in a rock climbing accident. Kevitch noticed all the positive comments being posted on his friend's Facebook wall, and wondered what it would be like if his friend could see what everyone loved about him. He took this idea and created a compliment box on his school's campus that became wildly popular. Wanting to share that positivity with the world and make people smile, Kevitch created Brighten.

Brighten allows users to add friends based on their phone contacts, so although the messages are anonymous, they're never coming from people you don't actually know. Even so, the whole idea of anonymity can unfortunately become pretty dangerous with my generation, so I was worried that this would just be another platform to target people negatively. It seems that a lot of teenagers think that it's okay to say mean things as long as nobody knows it was them, and this has had a hugely negative impact on teens through social media platforms like Yik Yak and others. However, Brighten proves that anonymity can be used for good, and we can still make people smile even if they don't know who we are.

After scoping out this app, I can confirm that it truly is a place for positivity, and I'm so proud to see teens taking initiative to create a community built on complimenting one another instead of tearing each other down. I mean, it's sad but it's just not common anymore to hear "I wish I was as cool as you" or "You're super smart" or "You're so funny you always make me smile!"  It makes me so happy to see everyone complimenting each other's strengths and expressing admiration for each other instead of being caught up in their own personal achievements and worrying about their next "status update". Even though this app is currently mostly occupied by senior girls, I hope the spirit of commendation spreads to the whole school, whether that is through the social media platform or not. Bottom line: good job HFA and good job Brighten.

ThoughtsReagan Casteel