Family Life Stories Life

This is my open letter of apology to my sister

Growing up, I had only a few friends. From the ages of twelve to sixteen, I had a grand total of three people I would talk to and even then, I only felt comfortable messaging one out of these three friends. But, the one consistent person in my life has always been my older sister, someone I owe a big apology to. 

When we were younger, my older sister and I were often called twins – we were so in-sync all the time whether it was sentences, responses, or even emotions. My sister is in fact just under two years older than I am and although she can be a bit up herself for being the older sibling at times, I can’t say I’ve never connected with her even though my sister was always a little more sympathetic to things than I was or even still am; if I shed a tear, she shed a waterfall. 

Exhibit A; I slipped headfirst into the side of the building and got a concussion at school one time in year three and she cried more than I did as she went off to get a teacher who basically told her to calm down because not a single coherent word was coming out of her mouth. Though I had to stay home battling a throbbing headache for the upcoming weeks, my sister would spend her time at school making get well soon cards for me and coming home to just sit with me. 

I remember when she was leaving primary school and on her last day, I was filled with dread because I realized that if I now had a spat with my friends, I couldn’t run off to my sister. She was now going to be somewhere that would require me to climb out of the school gates undetected, crossroads safely and not get kidnapped by the white van that appears to be everywhere. Far too much effort for the kid who barely got off the sofa once she sat down.

I got through that year anyhow and remember my sister giving me a pep talk before my first day of secondary school with the same sentence over and over: “I’m there if you need me.” It got really sour, really fast. 

Although undiagnosed at the time, social anxiety has always been a lifelong struggle of mine and I always took comfort in familiarity in my surroundings. I expressed to my sister how nervous I was about starting school on our walk there and she agreed for both of us to meet during break time in the school canteen. The first day had already been awful for me with the highlight of it realizing that I would be picked on by this one girl for the next five years. Her reason? She thought I was ugly. 

As I sat at a table waiting for my sister, a group of girls from my class walked past me making comments about how ‘ugly’ I was. I became the focal point of their laughter when my sister walked up to me and gave me a hug asking how my first few lessons were. I was suddenly torn between being in my safe space and fitting in – would I have been spared the embarrassment if I didn’t talk to my sister? I didn’t know it wouldn’t matter either way; the class bullies ran with it, teasing me relentlessly for the next five years. 

I got teased for a myriad of things during my time at secondary school, but it was all largely in comparison to me and my sister. She was tall, fairer-skinned (colorism at its finest), pretty, and above all, skinny. It didn’t help that she was also smart so whenever we had the same teachers, I would have to face comparisons by the teachers which would just become more ammunition for the class bullies. One girl in my class spread the rumor that I was adopted because there was no way one sister could be so beautiful and the other one so ugly. Another girl told me that my sister should be embarrassed to have such a fat sibling. The comments only got more demeaning from there.

I took it all out on my sister. I started arguing with her every morning so she would leave for school without me and purposefully get out of class really late so I wouldn’t have to walk home with her. Everything anyone has ever bought me down for, I would blame on her and I made sure she knew it. I bullied my own sister for my insecurities and that is a regret that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I regret my actions especially because my sister is a kind soul who has only ever encouraged me and waited patiently for me to work through any issues I was having.

It wasn’t until I got out of secondary school that I realized how awful I had been to someone who had never been mean to me – we came out of school with an overwrought relationship on my behalf. The road to healing has been long but my sister deserves to know that none of it was her fault and if I could undo it, I would.

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Tech Now + Beyond

Here’s the secret behind apps like Yik Yak and Whisper

Last time I checked, our deepest, darkest secrets are supposed to be shared between our closest friends―not to whole world. A text bubble with a simple background revealing something as ridiculous as naming your third toe Larry who hates Joe (toe number five) because Joe stole Pam (toe number four) away from him isn’t really necessary to know. Okay, that was pretty exaggerated, but do you get my point? 

 I know what you’re thinking: “Well, what if I want to share my deepest, darkest secrets? What if I like reading others’ deepest, darkest secrets? Who told you that you can have a say in all of this?” I get it, you’re addicted to the voyeurism. Whisper is to you as Twitter is to me. Nonetheless, these certain apps can get you in trouble no matter the number of restrictions and regulations companies set up.

It becomes a problem when cyberbullying sneaks into the party along with hacks and RSVPs that say “No” are being returned with a couple of government bans attached to it (R.I.P. Secret, shut down because CEO David Byttow didn’t like what his app turned into).

1. Whisper

Let’s starts out with Whisper. Now if you’re someone like me, who has only looked at this app at least twice then you probably don’t understand the excitement over it either―same for the rest of these types of apps. Well, when one wants to let something off their chest without revealing it’s them it comes in handy. And what else makes telling secrets better than a picture in the background? They can even message another user and stay anonymous. Of course, this will seem silly to some of us. Why not use a journal? Call a friend? To be fair, the company created Your Voice to help people deal with stress to bullying which does show they don’t support negative, offensive posts. 

 Yet, the posts from the app are being used for news stories by actual news publications, such as Buzzfeed (which can cause trouble like it did for Secret). The use for this app is going too far and doesn’t seem that safe for people who want to stay anonymous.

2. Yik Yak

A lot of young people are attracted to Yik Yak  because they can post pictures and texts for others in the same area, to see what others are up to. I first heard about this app was when a University of Missouri student used Yik Yak to threaten to “shoot every black person” he saw. Nice. You can probably tell right there I already had a bad first impression of the app. Wouldn’t you have that impression, too, if a company didn’t stop that post from being published for the world to see?

Another incident is when a Staples High School student in Westport, Connecticut used Yik Yak to attack other students and teachers. This pretty much sums up why you don’t hear about Yik Yak in high schools and middle schools (about 85 percent of high schools in the United States have this app banned). These two obvious aren’t the only incidents Yik Yak has been caught in and probably won’t be the last.

3. After School and Kandid

High schoolers lost Yik Yak, so they picked up After School and Kandid. Both aiming for students, Kandid is the child of Whisper and Yik Yak. You are able to see posts outside your school group and chat with others. After School stays within the school’s zone and doesn’t tolerate cyberbullying. They even have a system for students to talk about school and stress, similar to Whisper’s Your Voice.

If I was clueless about these types of apps, I’d pick After School because it doesn’t support bullying. However, who’s to say that unnecessary drama can’t start amidst the “fun?” It is high school after all. 

4. 23 Snaps

Honestly, I have never ever heard of this app before, and already the name is throwing me off. You already know it’s for pictures. Don’t want to flood your Facebook news feed, Twitter feed, Snapchat, etc. with your posts? The limit doesn’t exist here (haha, Mean Girls reference), so you can post a billion pictures if you want to and can keep it private to just your family and friends. My main fear of this is having your account hacked, and the next thing you know, all of your pictures have been leaked. 


I have to admit, I had an account and used to think it wasn’t pointless. Public answers to anonymous questions. What’s wrong with a stranger asking my favorite color? Sharing my grade and school isn’t dangerous. Totally! My other friends would use it to and sometimes we would anonymously ask each other silly questions for fun. It wasn’t until some of the questions my friends would get gave me a gut feeling of “haha…this can get messy.” Not only the predictable school drama crap, but also the possibility that a grown adult miles away might ask very specific questions and I’d be naive enough to publicly answer.

No one spends thousands of dollars creating an app just to be a part of cyberbullying cases. Yet we should pressure them to fix these issues, since people don’t want to give up these forms of social media. Knowing that problems can show up no matter who it is, I’d recommend you stay away from these types of apps. The last thing you want is getting harassed online, but can’t tell who it is.