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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Facebook confessions page could use better monitoring

    “It’s really sad to say, but I don’t think there’s a single person in my life that I can trust with my secrets,” said one anonymous poster on the U of A Confessions Facebook page, which gives the community an open forum to share their deepest secrets and embarrassing tales. When secrets build up and there’s no one to turn to, anonymously sharing with your fellow students can be a much needed cathartic release, but the page admins should censor vulgar and inappropriate comments to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for everyone.

    The secrets people post are anonymous, but because commenters feel a sense of security because they’re communicating over the internet instead of in person, the responses to the secrets can be just as blunt as the posts themselves.

    “The higher degree of anonymity, the more extreme people’s responses tend to be regarding any type of post on the Internet,” said Michael Sulkowski, an Assistant Professor in the School Psychology Program who is currently researching cyberbullying and peer victimization.

    “People feel since that since it’s not on Facebook it’s not real in the same way that face-to-face interactions seem real,” said Sulkowski.

    The result can be either crude and sarcastic remarks akin to cyberbullying, pure entertainment or an outlet for advice and support. The latter is what gives the site the potential to be something helpful and healthy, and it’s up to the admins to make it that way.

    U of A Confessions is currently run by two juniors, one studying economics and the other marketing, who wished to remain anonymous. They voluntarily took over for the creator of the site when it became time-consuming, according to one admin. The page was created a little over a year ago and continues to grow in popularity with more than 13,00 likes.

    “The first Facebook page got deleted because too much inappropriate content was posted,” said one admin. “When I was ‘hired,’ I made sure to carefully read through every confession; censoring the curse words, taking out the names and making sure they aren’t too negative.”

    Comments shaming people as “sluts” or furthering their problems with insults, however, are still present, so the page still needs to be more highly regulated. The admins have the final say in what is posted, and should be aware of possible responses to posts.

    There’s no guarantee that U of A Confessions is a positive forum for people who want to get something off their chests, but ideally, “someone can post something that is difficult for them to express and get feedback from people within minutes that can be very supportive,” said Sulkowski. “Someone struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts, relationship issues or almost any other valid problem can receive empathetic support from fellow students.”

    Sulkowski does warn, however, against using the page in place of professional mental health assistance, and he commends posters who recommend the UA’s counseling services such as CAPS and the Oasis Program.

    But even the most insignificant comments can help someone see they are not alone. “I am seriously the biggest f*ck-up I know,” said one confessor in a recent post. The positive response? “Hey me too. Let’s hang out.” Simple as that.

    One of the admin’s favorite posts was submitted in May. “It said something along the lines of ‘I am a broke college student and I can’t afford food so I have to dig in garbage cans around campus and other restaurants,’” they said. “Tons of students from campus offered to feed whoever this kid was along with offering advice.”

    Although U of A Confessions is primarily valued as entertainment or a break from studies to read about fellow Wildcats, it has the potential to be a forum for support. We’re not alone in this world, on the Internet or otherwise, and the admin and page users should be making every effort to ensure U of A Confessions is a safe place for people to go for solace.

    Kalli Ricka Wolf is a journalism junior. Follow her @kalli3wolf.

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