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Vent: A semi-anonymous app that feels your pain

Sarah Silbert

I really enjoy the anonymous sharing app Secret, as the posts are quite often hilarious and I'm usually able to narrow down a sharer's identity to two or three people. (Those Engadget in-jokes are a real telltale.) For the same reasons that I like reading Secret, though, I'd never consider posting on the app myself. If I were to share anything remotely personal, I'd want to get as far away from my extended group of friends and colleagues as possible. That's why I found a relatively new app, called Vent, so intriguing. Currently available on iOS (with an Android version on the way), it does exactly what its name implies: It lets you vent. And the best part is that your contacts list stays out of the picture -- you're sharing with random users who stumble upon your posts, and your profile can remain as anonymous as you like.

It's a little addictive; you can search for vents sorted by emotion (Calm, Irritated, Annoyed, Angry or Furious, and from mildest to most intense), and as with the Secret app, you can like and comment on individual posts. You can also follow individual users, though the beauty of Vent is that you don't need to have other friends posting to enjoy the app.

On a recent trip, I turned to the app to voice my discontent about the lack of personal space in airports -- I categorized that vent as "irritated," for the record -- and even though I have yet to receive any likes or comments, it felt satisfying to see my post in the river of complaints from other irritated souls. The comments I've seen on others are overwhelmingly positive and supportive as well. As with Secret, you have the option to report any inappropriate posts, and the comments on Vent are extremely civil as a result. That's a very good thing, too, because there's plenty of serious material mixed in with the more petty complaints.

The purpose of venting is to air your issues so you can move on and calm down, and this app is an effective way to virtually get something off your chest. And when many social apps require plenty of your friends to be signed up in order to get the best experience, Vent's a refreshing take on anonymity. Plus, it's interesting to see how others categorize their emotions -- having overly strict parents might make some posters "annoyed," but if it was me, I'd be in full-on "furious" mode.

Dean Serroni, Vent's co-founder, told me that an upcoming app overhaul would bring new emotions to choose from, along with additional ways to interact with fellow users' vents (this likely means private chat). For now, iPhone users can download the app via the source link below. The Android version should launch later this year.

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