Confession page users seek reaction, affirmation

We all have at least one person in our lives who posts things like these on social media:

“Oh my god, what an insensitive jerk. I can’t believe him. How hard is it for a girl to find a nice guy?”

“Oh man, today was terrible. I hate my life. Don’t text.”

“Anyone that says ‘I’ll always be there for you’ … always leaves.”

We’ve all seen them: people who post Facebook statuses that are just blatant cries for attention and the individuals who encourage the madness by commenting and “liking.” In the end, we can expect the usual response of, “Sigh. I just really don’t want to talk about it.” It’s a vicious cycle.

Any post that is made on social media is arguably looking for attention, but some individuals look for a very specific kind of reaction. A common trend that’s been cropping up around universities are confession pages. Even the University of Illinois has one.

Confession pages are basically hot spots for attention-seeking people to flock to. In its truest sense, I see a confession page as an outlet to relieve yourself of a burden. Making a post on a confession page should be a cathartic experience, not an excuse to get attention.

In many ways, confession pages have become a way for people to gain support for events they should feel guilty about. Some of these can include cheating with a friend’s girlfriend. Or intentionally trying to get a friend fat: “My friend eats fast food at least once a day. I secretly encourage this behavior. Even when she asks if she’s gaining weight, I lie and tell her no but she really is.” 14 likes.

Although many of these posts can be humorous, I can’t help but feel like a lot of the times confession pages facilitate an environment that glorifies misdeeds.

Somebody does something “bad,” maybe feels guilty about it and then posts about it on the confession page, adding a slightly humorous twist to reduce the severity of the offense. And then the likes pile in.

Many of these posts are harmless; however, quite a few of them are more serious, and when people keep hitting the “like” button, it just creates grounds for other people to feel OK about doing the same thing.

Other times, the extreme desire for attention can get out of hand and create anxiety and distress among individuals on college campuses.

A student at Boston College abused the school’s confession page and spun an elaborate story dictating various events where he “took advantage of” three drunk girls on different occasions. Obviously this post caused alarm and even led some students to get the police involved.

The fact that this story ended up being completely fake gives repulsive insight into how far people will go just to get a reaction out of people. The anonymity of the Internet and uncensored nature of a confession page is what fueled the “courage” behind this coward’s post. This kid would have never gone up to five different people in the flesh to tell them this story because there’s an obvious disconnect between online and the “real” world — where in the viral world he could almost guarantee getting away with it.

There is something exciting about the secrecy and power behind typing out words that automatically get sent to thousands of people, essentially watching them dance around in a panic because of it.

But what about PostSecret? Unlike confession pages, PostSecret is more controlled and censored and doesn’t allow people to post things all willy-nilly. Not only is it a more artistic way for someone to relieve their guilty conscience, it also (anonymously) puts people on display who just genuinely want to get something off their chest.

Since there are no means to comment or “like” the secrets that get posted, there is minimal room for dialogue. Perhaps this method helps to only receive real, unexaggerated accounts of events because they really can’t expect any kind of attention or reaction to their posts.

Although both share the aspects of anonymity and admitting something, confession pages are used for instant gratification. Anything on a confession page will be seen and will be responded to in some way whether it’s a criticism or an affirmation.

Confession pages are innately and purely for “fun,” and it’s up to us to keep them that way.

Sehar is a junior in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected]