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Forgive Me, Facebook, For I Have Sinned

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If you are a Charger and active on Facebook, there is a good chance you have come across the page at some point. With over 5,000 posts and 2,000 likes, the “Just for Fun” Wilcox Confessions Page allows anyone to submit anonymous confessions or compliments to be posted publicly. While this ambiguity allows a space for students to lift certain things off their chests to people they would otherwise not talk to, internet anonymity can also become a powerful tool for the wrong reasons. This year, it seems that submissions that have passed admin approval have fallen into a trend of increasing negativity.

COURTESY OF CLARISSA GUGLIELMELLI                                            Confessions submitted can be anything from gossip to politics.

Posted submissions vary from timid confessions about a crush to aggressive comments about political culture. There are, however, guidelines for what submissions can pass admin approval. The Google form for submitting confessions reads: “No rumors, harassment, offensive posts, or comments/confessions with false intentions are allowed.” The page itself states that its guidelines are in place in order to preserve positivity, encouraging submitters to keep in mind that the page may be seen from anyone in the Wilcox community. On the contrary, recently approved submissions have been peppered with toxicity and occasionally direct slander towards certain students and teachers alike.

Who is in charge of the page? Who decides what is appropriate and what is not? For the duration of their time running the page, the admins’ identities are kept anonymous. While the current admins of the Confessions Page declined to comment for this article, we did have the opportunity to speak to former admin, Vincent Le ‘16. Le, along with four other friends also of the class of ‘16 (Steven Carlson, Dean Yuan, James Le, and Luca Matsumoto), created and ran the page for four years. The page was passed down to the current set of admins upon their graduation last summer.

Although Le may not have agreed with a certain confession, this did not mean publishing the confession was completely out of the question. Le explains, “My philosophy is that we should be impartial and open-minded when it comes to publishing confessions because everyone has different stories to tell and it is important to let their voices be heard, regardless if we agree or not.”
Wilcox students themselves seem to have varying opinions about the page. Joel Hangai ‘19 describes the confessions as “not only directed at one person or a small category of people, but they’re always offensive, full anger or bitterness, as if it’s a personal attack.” Hangai also explains that positive, or even neutral confessions, are rare.

On the other hand, Khue Vo ‘19 expresses, “I enjoy reading the positive confessions after a long day at school because they’re uplifting.” Vo believes there may have been some negative quotes in the past, but feels most have them have been filtered out.

One submission itself reads, “C4424: I feel like the Confessions Page is just used for anonymously spreading ideas rather than confessions.” On November 28th, 2016, the admins posted a message addressing these trends in the content of the page, saying, “It is seemingly being used as a medium to spread political opinion and toxicity rather than love and good vibes. This page was built off of spreading love, not hate.”

Both Brian Chen ‘17 and Xaviera Newman ‘17 agree that in the time they have been following the page, it has gotten increasingly political. Chen believes that because it is an election year, politics is intertwined with almost everything. However, Newman expresses that the page “talks more about things going on outside of the school and the people at Wilcox.” Janet Medlin ‘17 thinks recent content is harder to resonate with “since it’s mostly people complaining about their own problems and things that aren’t applicable or relatable to everyone.”
It is important to acknowledge that what is “appropriate” and “relevant” may differ from individual to individual. Le explains, “There is no one tried and true way to administrate an anonymous confessions page.” Therefore, what is and is not posted on the page is up to current admins.

However, should the situation be handled differently since the page is branded as Wilcox? At the end of the day, do submissions reflect discourse within the school itself? Le disagrees. “Wilcox is a diverse community,” he argues. “It should be expected that a few posts do not represent each and every individual at a high school.”

Vice Principal Chandra Henry believes that while high school confessions pages may include positive confessions, they have the potential to be a creative way for students to be hurtful to each other. Some readers may find it funny, but others may find it damaging or offensive. Therefore, admins have a moral obligation to keep confessions positive and uplifting. According to her, school administration does not monitor the page unless something in particular is brought to their attention by a student or parent. “Especially with our focus on mental health and wellness at Wilcox, it is more worrisome,” she explains. “While it is nice that students have an outlet, we as administrators want to make sure that students who are reaching out for help (on the confessions page) are being directed by their peers to the right resources for help.”

The Wilcox Confessions Page may not be directly reflective of the Wilcox student body, but it is still tied to our school. Admins have seemingly made an effort to filter out offensive content, but that is for readers to decide for themselves.

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Forgive Me, Facebook, For I Have Sinned