Being online is dangerous for a whole host of reasons, including identity theft issues and compromising your bank accounts. But, over the last few years, social media has also become a hotbed of flame wars and finely nuanced disagreements.
I’ve even come to the point where I’ve wondered how much value there is in posting about anything personal or sharing struggles, knowing that someone will swoop in and point out some abject fallacy or minor discrepancy. It’s not like I think of Twitter or Facebook as the best place to seek out advice, because admitting you don’t know something opens you up to attacks.
That’s why I became so interested in the new ChekMarc app that launches today. I’m not sure I love the name, since I keep thinking it is spelled CheckMarq or some other way. (In truth, the name is a sly reference to the founder Marc Kaplan, a one-time partner at Deloitte.) The name also reminds me of an accounting app, but that’s okay. I like what they’re doing.
Over the last few weeks, I tested a private beta version. Here’s how it all works. The basic idea is that you can connect with people in a safe environment, then become either a mentor or seek mentoring from other users. I had to prove my identity by scanning my driver’s license and going through a verification process. After that, a verification icon lets other users know you are safe and won’t start harassing them. If you do, there’s at least a paper trail.
To this day, all you need in order to register for Twitter is an email address. It’s anonymity has created a cesspool of trolls with keyboards. On ChekMarc, the vibe is completely different. I posted a message as an Explorer (someone seeking advice) and interacted with several nice people. It’s actually a bit jarring. Wait, that’s your real name? You mean you are not hiding behind an email address and are not a cranky troll living in a basement somewhere?
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Once you realize you are in safe confines, it changes everything. All of the interactions felt different because it seemed like the barrier of anonymity no longer exists. I decided to become a Catalyst as well (help others). I mentioned how I’m writing a new book and have been a journalist for the last 20 years. Slowly but surely, a few people started messaging me.
At first, you don’t see real names or an identity, but you can agree to start chatting with those who have also been verified. A business consultant contacted me about book writing, and we ended up chatting on the phone. I gave her advice about starting on Medium.com as a place to post her stories, and also mentioned the new site Wattpad. She seemed grateful, and I enjoyed being able to share my knowledge without wondering if it was a waste of time.
Is the ChekMarc interface perfect? Not really. I enjoy testing new apps like this and seeing how they progress. Even during the beta period, the company changed a few settings. A training video used to pull up a whole new browser but now plays at the site, for example. At first, you couldn’t click the logo to go back home on the site. I’d prefer if the home page showed me recent posts or my own inbox, but there’s a lot of potential here. I like that the app is meant to help you find answers and a mentor and it’s a place where experts can help others.
I doubt Facebook is worried. Twitter might not have to change their policies. And yet, who knows? I want mentoring to become a much bigger part of social media as well, and create real connections between people that have meaning and purpose beyond a “like.”
I hope the app takes off, and I’ll be going back to find more writers looking to expand their boundaries.