You may have already heard of Matter; the anonymous app that enables people to share and discuss their true thoughts and feelings about anything and everything with students at their schools. Students can send messages back and forth and see how others relate to what they’ve shared. They can ask the questions they’ve always wanted to ask, and get honest responses. Her Campus Barnard was curious about this new social network, and reached out to the company’s CEO, Ben Sigelman, for more information.
According to Sigelman, the app is meant to make people feel better about themselves; an achievement that many other social networks lack. “I had just been using Facebook and I realized that, despite having scrolled through a feed of essentially positive news about acquaintances near and far, I felt lousy, or glum, or perturbed, or maybe something in between,” said Sigelman. “This is because I was comparing my inner life – which, by virtue of being a human being, is complex and nuanced – to the carefully curated facades that we all put forward on facebook.”
To stray from our society’s unfortunate obsession with these “curated facades,” Sigelman founded Matter in San Francisco, raised enough money to pay for a team, and has since worked towards building a product that is engaging, safe, and real.
Anonymity enables people to feel more comfortable being themselves on this app. While Sigelman acknowledges that the interpersonal exchanges on many anonymous apps can get nasty, competitive, and mean-spirited, he assures us that Matter is geared towards a more positive and self-fulfilling outcome. “With Matter we are trying to focus on the reflective, personal side of anonymity; we aim to achieve that through the features and design of the app itself, of course, but also through the way the feed is structured, the way we deal with flagged users, and so on,” said Sigelman. Matter’s goal is to provide people with uplifting and inspirational insights through anonymity, and to avoid people utilizing this anonymity as a cover for inappropriate or negative behavior. “Although the community in Matter obviously depends on anonymity, we don’t consider it to be ‘an anonymous app’ per se: we more think of it as a human app, and anonymity is part of the means to that end,” said Sigelman.
Currently, Matter is working with Active Minds for Eating Disorder Week. For every user who creates his or her first post within the Matter Columbia community during the week, Matter will donate $2 to Active Minds. Because Matter does not intrinsically grow on its own in the way that Instagram and Facebook do, it needs to find more creative ways to build a social graph. However, the company does not want to rely on traditional advertising tactics because Matter aims to build a more authentic community. Therefore, Active Minds is the perfect fit for the Matter community.
Matter got the idea to work with Active Minds from a Columbia student who works with Matter. “The work that Active Minds does is important, and particularly so today with so many college students under pressure to seem a different way than they often feel,” said Sigelman. “We realized that Matter and Active Minds are trying to tackle similar fundamental problems, albeit through entirely different mechanisms, and so kicking off a small campaign that would benefit them was an easy decision for us.”