Instagram is currently one of the most popular social media apps, but it presents a rampant cyberbullying problem. Because Instagram is based around individual- curated profiles that reflect a user’s personality or specific brand, Instagram trolls have a reason to personally come after users for their content. There will always be trolls, but there’s a way to weaken their approach. Imagine if there was an image sharing app like Instagram that created audiences around shared interests, rather than individual profiles. Or just download Hyper.
Hyper is a new app much like Instagram (except there is no option to add filters to photos) that allows users to share photos under specific hashtags. So rather than fine-tuning your own profile, Hyper encourages contributions to a larger community of people with a similar interest. Considering the extent to which the internet has offered countless opportunities for people to be horrible to each other, apps that try to combat cyberbullying in any way are welcomed additions to the tech universe. I tested out the Hyper app to see what all the hype was about.
After I signed up by providing some basic info, Hyper provided a list of popular hashtags to get me started. I subscribed to everything that matters in my life, including but not limited to #deepthoughts (because I have a lot), #piercings (because I have one), and #gay (because I am). You better believe I subscribed to #Foodgasms right after I took this first screenshot.
After I subscribed to my hashtags of choice, I got my first look at my front page, which displays miscellaneous popular posts that don’t necessarily correspond with the hashtags you subscribed to. I was not surprised to initially see shirtless white guys, one of whom is admitting that his No. 1 turn-on is short girls (because he’s 6’3”) under the #Confessions hashtag. So I scroll over to my customized hashtags tabs at the top of the page to discover some content that is more up my alley.
I swiped over to #Confessions hoping I would find something juicy, and that I did. I came across a post by a girl who took to the #Confessions hashtag to admit that she has been told her nose is big, accompanied by a picture of her face, proudly displaying the nose in question. Hyper users can share, comment on, or upvote (much like Reddit) any post they come across, and so I upvoted and used the comments section to express some encouragement. Your nose is fine, I told her. This was my first taste of the app’s anti cyberbullying sentiment — I offered support to someone who needed a self-confidence boost.
Next I scrolled over to #Piercings because I felt ready to make my first contribution to the Hyper community. I snapped a picture of my tragus ear piercing I’ve had for several years and posted it on the #Piercings page with the caption “TRAGUS? MORE LIKE CRAY-GUS” because I’m silly as hell.
The only slightly confusing part about posting a photo is finding the feature that lets you snap a photo through the Hyper app, like the way you can take a picture with the Instagram app instead of uploading a picture. It’s hard to spot the live camera because it looks like just another picture in your camera roll, but you’ll notice it at the bottom of your roll if you move your phone around enough. Further along on the piercing page, I saw something that I will never unsee — a solicitation for help from someone with an infected tongue piercing. I’ll spare you the horror.
Although Hyper is more about larger communities, users still have individual profiles. After I posted my first contribution to the #Piercings page, I clicked on the person outline icon at the bottom right of the screen to see my bona fide profile, which looks very similar to Instagram but with more of the color black. I added a description that suits me perfectly. I tried adding a profile picture, but it wouldn’t register after I uploaded it.
As is the case with any app that’s just starting out, Hyper could definitely benefit from some more users and content in general. That said, Hyper’s anti-cyberbullying mission puts an inviting and communal spin on Instagram, allowing users to weed out the content they don’t care for and hone in on their interests. The online space Hyper creates is visually friendly and, well, plain ol’ friendly. What a refreshing notion.