College confession pages have been popping up all over Facebook, as students use the anonymous outlet as a way to share funny, serious, and random confessions with a wide audience. CC has its very own page, CC Confessions, with 804 likes and countless more viewers.
The confessions can be lighthearted and outrageous: “I peed on a squirrel and it didn’t run away, it liked it,” or “There is something really thrilling about buying nothing but a fuck ton of condoms and some lip gloss at King Soopers at the most crowded part of the day.” But they often also veer into more serious territory, “It feels like I’m never going to have a meaningful romantic relationship of any sort here.”
In fact, it is hard to look at the page and not notice the prevalence of confessions related to mental health, and the often-positive comments pointing to resources on campus for students who want to seek help.
“How do I explain to my teacher that I love their class but can barely do any of the work I’m so depressed?” said one post, which received suggestions of seeking help with a counselor at Boettcher.
One senior and self-identified member of GROW, Rosie Curts, often comments on confessions of students facing mental health issues and encourages them to seek help, such as the GROW meetings on campus. While Curts emphasized the importance of respecting individuals’ chosen emotional outlets, she also believes that GROW is a better option to get productive help for yourself than posting on CC Confessions.
Curts was also able to use CC Confessions s to make a real life connection of a different sort. She noticed a post confessing that the person was tired of house parties and just wanted to play laser tag. After commenting and realizing other students felt the same way, Curts and seven other students went out for a game of laser tag.
Heather Horton, director of wellness resource center and clinical psychologist at CC, does not regularly read the page (she said the CC administration is not monitoring CC Confessions as some students suggest) but explained the relationship between the Internet and mental health. With 30 percent of college students experiencing clinical depression and 20 percent experiencing anxiety while in college, the Internet can be an important resource and place for students to realize that they are not alone.
Horton says that confessors receiving positive comments, such as those encouraging GROW, can help to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues. Students are also more likely to take advantage of resources recommended to them by peers. However, when it comes to students dispensing advice in the comments, Horton cautions students to remember their boundaries and limitations of knowledge.
The page works thanks to the efforts of an anonymous administrator. The administrator reads the submissions on a Survey Monkey and then posts them to the page’s wall, where anyone with a Facebook can then leave a public comment. The administrator, a current CC student, spends about 20 minutes to two hours a day, depending on how Tigernet2 is running, updating all of the posts.
The administrator said that almost every confession makes it onto the page with three exceptions: confessions that attack someone personally, ones that are basically gibberish, and “when I can see a pattern and tell that someone just submitted like, 50 confessions in a row that all basically say the same kind of troll-ish stuff,” they said.
However, these limitations have not prevented controversy from appearing on the page. In fact, there have been enough offensive posts that The Office of Minority and International Students (OMIS) and CCSGA sponsored a discussion this past Tuesday titled “Courageous Conversations: Confessions of Discrimination.”
Confessions began appearing on the page addressing the event, such as “Confessions of Discrimination… yeah right confessions of the whiny,” but it is impossible to know if this is how the poster actually feels or if it is a “troll” intentionally trying to stir up anger on the page.
The talk attempted to address the discrimination that can occur on CC’s campus and on the online page. One female student referenced multiple posts on CC Confessions using the term “jungle fever,” a derogatory phrase that typically means a white person’s sexual attraction toward an African or African-American person. Another student added in that she had also encountered the phrase on campus.
Participants also acknowledged that while discrimination in the CC community needs to be addressed, the students who “should” be attending talks such as Courageous Conversations often do not.
During Courageous Conversations, Cesar Cervantes, event moderator and Assistant Dean of Students, acknowledged that one cannot even know if the confessions are true or honest when the confessor is anonymous. However, he also posed the question: does it even matter if the confession is true? Even a confession that was posted by a troll could be true for someone else reading the page.