February 1, 2013


A couple days ago, redOrbit writer Michael Harper told us about the “Anti-Facebook,” Pencourage.

“Pencourage is meant to be a safe place where no one knows your true identity. In fact, even the founders of Pencourage have asked to remain just as anonymous as those who write the gritty and raw updates found on the site. In an interview, the founder of Pencourage said the decision to remain just as anonymous is simply a way to foster authenticity, and thereby lead by example.”

Now, I’m a Facebook fan. Since I’ve given up my chat programs this year, Facebook is my main social outlet for keeping up with friends and family across the globe. I’m an atypical user, however, as I DO post the negatives along with the positives. Not all of them, mind you, but I’m probably more open than most on Facebook.

I had to go check out Pencourage, though, for many reasons. It was touted as an anti-Facebook, it was compared to PostSecret (which if you haven’t checked them out, you should), and it sounded a bit like an old favorite of mine, SoThere is a place to post open letters, those things you have always wanted to say, or needed to say, or want to scream at the top of your lungs, but can’t. I’ve seen everything from fights between best friends to suicide notes to admissions of sexual abuse (from both sides of the street). It’s a cathartic release of pain, with very little to identify the writer. So Pencourage intrigued me.

Three days ago, I started reading. Like Harper, I was amazed at the depth of pain and angst being revealed there, the things people were willing to admit to in public. I have also been heartened by the amount of advice, commiseration and comfort perfect strangers have been willing to give each other.

I had to see if this claim of anonymity was real. So, two days ago, I signed up. Hell no, I won’t tell you my screen name… silly people… that’s the point!

They are very serious about keeping your information private. The default for every bit of information they ask for is “hidden,” and you control what is shown to the public. So far, from speech patterns and slang — along with noticing the times it is most busy, most people on Pencourage seem to be in the UK or in Europe, but it is growing amongst Americans. People hide their locations, their names and their faces, but what they reveal is so much more personal.

I’ve only made three posts so far, but people have been willing to talk, and comfort and offer their own stories as proof that I’m not alone, and it does get better. It honestly blows me away how much love and acceptance is being offered on this site.

I guess the question you have to ask yourself is, do you have the courage to be completely honest about how you feel? Especially since no one has to know it’s you?

Image Credit: ollyy / Shutterstock

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