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Can You Keep a Secret?

Monday, Mar. 25, 2013
The best student comment on "Can You Keep a Secret?" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, April 7, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.
**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

Scott couldn’t believe his eyes when he checked Facebook this morning. A new page, “SCU Confessions,” had just been created, and one of the first “confessions” was about him! Someone shared a story where he had gotten really drunk last week and did a few things he wasn’t proud of. Granted, he wasn’t mentioned by name, but it was a unique enough situation that everyone he knew would recognize it as being about him.

Scott had heard about other schools starting pages like this, where people message the page administrator their secrets, hook-up stories, dirty deeds, and anything else that they would want to share anonymously. Scott initially thought these pages were hilarious, and even “liked” the ones from other schools just so that he could be entertained. However, now that he was reading something about him, he felt embarrassed and upset. Already it had 50 “likes” and counting, and several of his friends tagged him in the comments so that he would see it. To make matters worse, the post was anonymous, so he had no way of knowing who was spreading the story around.

Scott’s friends told him to laugh it off; it wasn’t that big of a deal. Even he had to admit that the story was objectively pretty funny, and most of the other posts on the page were relatively harmless as well. On the other hand, he could envision how people would take advantage of the anonymity and could potentially cause somebody real harm.

What do you think about Facebook college “Confessions” or “Hook-Up” pages? Do you feel like this type of anonymous sharing can be hurtful and even dangerous, or do you think it’s a harmless way to tell funny stories? Have you ever submitted anything to a page like this, or been mentioned in a post?


Comments Comments

Mikaila Read said on Mar 28, 2013
Anonymity can certainly offer individuals a means of liberation. I recall submitting my own confessions through a site called VeryLiberating back in my high school days, and even now I've made submissions to similar secret-venues like "Post-Secret." I can personally attest to a feeling of liberation that I might not have received without the comfort of anonymity. However, anonymity abused leads to potentially dangerous or hurtful cases like the above. What strikes me as uniquely different in the above case to my own, is that I expected whole anonymity with regard to my situation, secret, story, and self (identity). However, in Scott's case-- the only assured anonymity could come from a lack of witnesses. Simply put, Scott didn't have anonymity when he was getting drunk and committing whatever social blunders he did last week, so the story itself being forwarded along is something (okay, or not) that he should have expected or exercised caution against assuming the spread of such stories would hurt him. Perhaps, the fact that he engaged in ''things he wasn't proud of,'' before a social audience, doesn't necessarily entitle a member of that audience/group to share or spread Scott's story further, but in this day and age it seems pretty foolish to expect anonymity in such a situation, especially when social media is thrown into the picture. SCU Confessions is uniquely small in contrast to sites or forums like VeryLiberating or Post-Secret. This clearly diminishes the degree of anonymity one could expect from posting or submitting to SCU Confessions, however, I maintain that the forum itself is not the cause of potentially harmful commentary/confessions. Individuals alone are responsible for the posts comprising SCU Confessions and similar pages, and if a person (Scott, for instance) is wary of something being posted about them, perhaps, they should consider refraining from public displays of whatever activity it is they fear having light cast on, instead of pointing fingers at the page itself being responsible for any negative social repercussions. - Like
Kaitlin said on Apr 3, 2013
It is true that the Internet has enabled us to share so much more information. However, it is terrible to think that people have lost all sense of privacy and have started to post stories that could hurt individuals. Sure, it may be out of jest, but to post it anonymously is actually childish and cowardly. We have a page that is centered on compliments. Someone submits a compliment, anonymously, and it is posted on the group page. Often it includes a name, but many times just a description. Others may go back and tag that person?s name so they are able to see the compliment, but often it celebrates the fact that we have so many wonderful students on campus who don?t mind doing the right thing, whether it?s helping open the door or smile at whomever they see. The pages mentioned in the case can indeed provide humor, but what we fail to recognize is that most humor is at the expense of someone. Additionally, people fail to realize how dangerous posting online is. With sites such as Facebook, once the information is uploaded, it is impossible to remove. To tease and humiliate someone so close to us is a terrible way to promote unity on campus. Most students and humans don?t realize that sharing or posting such stories is hurtful, until they are the one being targeted. Promoting such pages and such stories would only create a very unwelcoming environment and could create a terrible reputation for Santa Clara University. Santa Clara University does an excellent job promoting itself as a refuge or safe haven where any student can learn, grow, and live his or her life and students should not risk this safe environment simply to post a story about some random individual?s drunken escapades. - Like
Meg said on Apr 3, 2013
I have never submitted anything to a page like ?Confessions? or ?Hook-Up? nor have I ever been mentioned in a post. I feel pages like the aforementioned can be hurtful and/or dangerous, but at the same time they can be helpful. It all depends on what is written and how people let the comments affect their life. Most comments I have read are of students bad-mouthing professors or students anonymously confessing something about their own life. If a professor came across a Confessions page with negative comments such as ?Mr. X should be fired because he doesn?t teach,? or ?I want to kill Professor X because he?s so boring,? a professor may, on the one hand, feel hurt and doubt their teaching capabilities. On the other hand, the professor may take the criticism and adapt his/her teaching style to a style students prefer to engage them more. Although comments like these could be hurtful, they could be helpful depending on how people take the comments. Other comments I have seen are students confessing about their life. For example, I?ve seen a comment such as, ?Everyone thinks my life is so great but in reality, it sucks. My parents beat me and I wish someone would show me love. Sometimes I feel like killing myself. ? A page like Confessions is great for people who feel too scared to tell anyone in person about their problems. Although this student probably wasn?t seeking help and simply wanted to confess his/her feelings, he/she received help because people who read the Confessions page gave their support through comments and some even gave their contact information if the anonymous person needed someone to talk to. In Scott?s case, he feels hurt and probably thinks one of his friends may have spread the story around. However, maybe there were strangers around the area where he got drunk, saw the incident, thought it was funny, and decided to post the story for everyone else to be entertained, which is the point of some Confessions pages. Scott shouldn?t try to figure out who spread the story because it may be someone he doesn?t even know. I think Scott should feel hurt/upset because of his *friends* who identified him in the story and tarnished his reputation by *tagging him* in the public post. Scott has to realize that things like this will blow over and realize that he?s in college?things like people being drunk and having stories written about them happen. Move on. It?s a life lesson. Now you know that if you don?t want things written about you, don?t do things in public that you may regret. If you?re with friends, ask them not to post a story about what you guys do. If a story happens to be written about you, ask your friends not to tag you in it. If they do, ask them to delete their comment that says your name in it or report/flag the post so the administrator/Facebook can remove the post. The only time I feel Confessions pages could be truly hurtful or dangerous is when names or addresses are involved in extreme situations. I?ve seen some pages where people hate someone and post the address of where someone lives. Now *that* is quite dangerous. I know of a story where people learned of someone?s address and actually went to someone?s home and vandalized it and tried to harm people. ?Confessions? or ?Hook-Up? pages can serve as entertainment and support to others but can also cause harm. To protect people mentally or physically, people have to be cautious of what they post. The administrator of the page also has to be mindful of what is commented on posts. - Like - 3 people like this.
The Big Q said on Apr 9, 2013
Thank you to everyone who commented for your thoughtful responses! However, the "Big Q" team believes that the comments with adequate depth only came from our contributors, and they are not eligible for the weekly prize. For this reason, no award will be given this week- but please check out our new bi-weekly cases for more chances to win! - Like
Martin Chudzik said on Jan 28, 2014
Personally, I believe that Facebook College ''confession'' pages, are very very dangerous. The internet itself is a powerful tool which is capable of spreading a story in the matter of seconds, and it can travel to any part of the world in no time. Anonymous entries to such pages could also be very dangerous as well. I personally witnessed such a page being created in my school, and it created nothing but chaos. People would post horrible pictures and posts about others they despised. They made people miserable, angry and even depressed. Humans have the tendency to over-see the consequences of playing on someones feelings, and even though something rude you might say would seem funny to your friends and could make you seem ''cool'', could possibly the other person's life as well. We have the tendency not to think about our actions, and therefore such posts and pages are a dangerous tool used by ignorants. Ignorants who play on other's peoples feelings to make themselves feel better, even though they know they take such abrupt actions because they're desperate. Any type of ''rumour spreading'', or ''secret - story telling'' can be harmful. That is because people in College are not very far from kids in high-school. The same moral rules apply, the same ideology applies and therefore kids are just as vulnerable and dependent on their social status that they can actually harm themselves because of one's opinion. It's stupid, it's immoral and it happens, because humans are simply ignorant. Too ignorant to care, too ignorant to bother. - Like
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Tags: anonymous, confessions, Facebook, secrets