When Hilary Clinton contested for US Presidential elections 2016, the world saw a sudden rise of digital sisterhood, a phenomenon that the world was earlier not much aware of. Pantsuit Nation, the secret invite-only Facebook group garnered over 3 million ardent Democratic supporters in just few days of its existence. The group became so powerful that Clinton dedicated part of her last Presidential debate to her supporters in that group. Not only the women of Pantsuit Nation stayed hidden behind their screens, but they came out with a flash mob dance performance wearing pant suits, of course, in support of their favourite Presidential candidate. Exclusive groups like Pantsuit Nation are fast forming across the Facebook. They don’t show up in searches, and they can’t be accessed by non-invitees.
That brings the big questions – what are these secret groups, who are members of these groups and yes what do they really talk about there that cannot be discussed in open forums, do I really need to be the part of one of them?
The Psychology Behind the Secret Groups
Love them or hate them, but sometimes we all want to be a part of those uber-chic, glamorous, all girls groups, we are fed through movies like Mean Girls, Pitch Perfect, Clueless and eye candy TV series like Gossip Girls. Admit it, there are days when you want to be haughty like Serena van der Woodsen, or become an instant hit like Cady Heron among the A-list girl cliques a la The Plastics, or have people gaping at you with awe and aspiration.
But to be a cool girl and gain entry to exclusive clubs you need to up your game, wear trendy outfits, be outgoing, exude charm, stay fit and confident. Instead, admission to these secret groups only requires the approval of a scrupulous jury, and if they decide to let you in, viola, you have a support system for everything under the sun. Not one, not two but you will become friend with all the members of the group.
No matter, how much the feminist inside us declines but it’s a bit of a man’s world, and women in particular really need to help and support each other, with these secret Facebook groups women are reclaiming parts of the internet and creating safe spaces to help each other both personally and professionally.
Here are top 5 reasons that make us believe Facebook groups might be the future of friendship.
1. An Interactive Platform Where Women Heal and Commune
Secret Facebook group is like joining a sorority, where women vent anger, start fights, seek advice, give advice, crack jokes, trade tips and more. This newfound digital sisterhood is an interactive diary for womanhood and your life support for real-time feedback.
2. Privilege to Remain Anonymous
The best part about these groups is you can post anonymously, if you don’t want your family to find it out later. Many girls post anonymously in order to avoid any issues. You might think that young women aren’t too open about seeking advice from complete strangers, but judging by the number of personal posts on these groups, would prove you wrong.
3.Women Understand Each Other Better
Women use this newfound independence to support one another through careers, marriage, motherhood, parenting and everyday lives, inspiring each other and finding others who share common interest. Through conversation and compassion, these like-minded communities of women are empowering one another.
4. Vow to Remain Silent
All the group members pledge to remain silent about things shared within the group. Most of these groups have very strict rules about sharing anything from the groups with non-members. Taking screen shots, sharing information or posts from the groups with others can result in getting expelled from the group and even in public shaming. Amazingly, people honor the no-sharing rule.
5. 24/7 Support
With 24/7 availability, these groups are like giant slumber party of virtual bff that never ends; it can go into your pocket and can be called upon at any moment when you need it. You are at the store, trying some cool new top, you take a quick shot in the changing room to Snapchat your friend for a second opinion. But rather than turning to one good friend for advice, the women of these groups consult a confidential jury of hundreds or thousands, for spot-on feedback.
Rise of Digital Sisterhood in Pakistan
Since the beginning, women in Pakistan have strong social media presence; we see almost all major organization have women leading their digital marketing teams. So having a platform dedicated for women to connect with like minded individuals is almost too hard to ignore. Interestingly, social media for millennial is what neighbourhood friends were for previous generations, a quick shoulder to cry on or seek advice.
On the surface, it may seem the topics discussed in groups are too generic and mostly about movies, food, fashion, male bashing, but women have talks about intimate topics like what to expect from their wedding night, how to avoid getting trapped in arranged marriage against their wish, chances of survival after a divorce, what to do if a male authority figure acts inappropriately, where to report a child abuse and how to succeed in a male-dominated job market, questions that need to be addressed and answered too.
Lesser Known Facts about Secret Facebook Groups
- Many of these groups constantly change their group name for confidentiality purpose.
- Getting in the group requires recommendations from at least three women already in the group.
- Girls Night In, Fierce Babe Network (FBN), Just a Little Idea, Movers and Shakers, Help A Sister Out, Ishtar are some of the popular secret Facebook groups.
- Soul Sisters, Soul Bitches, Pakistan Beauty Society are some of the most popular secret Facebook groups in Pakistan. There are many others lesser known groups and their popularity is rising.
- Most of these groups have unofficial spokeswoman for women who seek advice anonymously.
How Safe are these Safe Havens?
Although there are rules that all the group members follow, but fact is there is nothing on social media that doesn’t risk of getting viral, so it is better to be safe than sorry. No doubt, these online groups bring women together not just online, but offline too but it is always better to exercise some caution.