By any measure, it’s a lonely cry into the void: On the mobile app Whisper, one user has posted this:
I have a child on a Mormon mission and I stopped believing while she was away. if I knew then what I know now, I would have never sent her. it’s going to break her heart.
Part of the Mormon faith requires young people to embark on a two-year-long “mission” to a far-away place, to spread the word of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It may be a year or more before this parent will have to confess to the daughter that they believe the mission was a waste of time.
And traditionally, Mormons have excommunicated anyone who strays from the faith. Families never speak to their relatives again over issues like this.
For one girl and her parent, huge trouble likely lies ahead.
Dark and shameful, but evocative and moving, too.
Whisper is the app for anonymous confessions. Users make up a screen name, and then type in whatever dark, often shameful, secret they have for others to read. The app allows you to add a random stock-photo image or upload your own as a background to your message. When done well, a good Whisper can be evocative and moving.
And you can sort Whispers — as the anonymous confessions are called — by geography and by topic, so you can see who is Whispering in your neighbourhood, or who is talking about certain specific topics.
A lot of users seem to be teenagers. But regardless of the apparent age of the user, a huge portion of Whisper is about love, sex and dating. (And because you can message and respond to individual users, it should not be surprising that people are trawling Whisper for hookups.)
A live news feed of what Mormons are worrying about right now.
But if you search and click on the “Mormon” tag, you get a view into a world that few non-Mormons will ever get: a live, real-time, constantly updated news feed on what Mormons are actually thinking right now, but dare not say aloud.
Mormons and non-Mormons tend not to mix socially. Some non-Mormons regard the LDS church as an insular, slightly strange faith that has twisted American history to create a fictional third testament of the Bible. Mormons don’t drink alcohol or coffee — which tend to be non-Mormons’ two favourite beverages.
So Whisper is a fascinating, heartbreaking and occasionally hilarious glimpse of something that non-Mormons would never otherwise get to see.
We’re not saying Whisper is representative of Mormons generally, of course. Whisper is a self-selecting population of people who want to vent.
The most obvious thing about it is that Mormons turn out to be just like everyone else — fearful, arrogant, horny, and filled with questions they are afraid to ask face to face.
Here’s a random walk through “Mormon” Whisper.
(Note that Whisper supplies random photos for most confessions, so the people depicted in the background of the Whisper are usually NOT the authors or the subject of the Whisper.)