Forgive me, Facebook, for I have sinned

Alexandra Christie explores the Post Secret fad that is taking over the university sphere.

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We, the millennial generation, seem to have a  constant desire to pour our little hearts out a tad more than our predecessors. Case in point: the Post Secret phenomenon.  It has evolved from a 00s ‘art project’ to a pseudo corporate entity engaging in motivational talks in college towns across the US. This fascination with online word vomit seems to have spiraled slightly out of control with the recent creation of USYD’s very own versions of Post Secret. I’d go as far as labelling this trend as a syndrome: a confession syndrome.

Although social networking is wanted as the scapegoat for every ‘youth gone wild’ story, it has undoubtedly whipped the whinings of young people into a revolving frenzy. It seems everyone has a desire to spill the beans about their own lives or the lives of their friends and acquaintances, while at the same time commenting incessantly on the lives of people all over the World Wide Web. Whether or not this phenomenon existed prior to the interwebs or not, it’s certainly being promulgated across cyberspace at a speed unknown to mankind.

Since the advent of Post Secret, university students worldwide have only served to emphasise the self-obsessed, introspective stereotypes of youth.  Needless to say, our own town has not forgotten to jump on the bandwagon.   The USYD version of Post Secret, devotedly run by loveable Joel Einstein and Mikeala Higgins, was the first off the mark.  This was followed up by the USYD Confessions Facebook page which published a range of statements including the hilarious “I sometimes rub the shiny bald head of the mature age student to gain some wisdom,” to the done before “I only go to USYD because I didn’t get accepted into Hogwarts” and the painfully serious “I’m homeless and I’m graduating this year”.

Yes, the Internet has always been a forum for the irrelevant rantings of loners, but this idea of a page solely for ‘secrets’ or ‘confessions’ seems relatively new. The desire of university students to puke up word vomit all over the internet has reached a peak as the ANU, UNSW and UTS versions of the website have been popping up as well. Rather than following in the emotional-cry-baby footsteps of the cutesy, artsy Post Secret initiative, the Confessions pages have spawned some heavy revelations. ANU’s page stands out for its comments, which are almost solely about unrequited, love.  This evasive sexual frustration seems to have unveiled a sinister undercurrent of misogynist opinions in our nation’s capital. One so-called ‘confession’ featured a student admitting to a brutal argument against his international student girlfriend. “I hit her across the face but she didn’t have anywhere to go. The next day I made her apologise for the fight. Am I a jerk?”

And it gets even more horrifying with a comment from another lovely young lad  who explicitly posted about the joyful realisation of his rape fantasies prompting outrage from commenters. “l started getting aggressive and absolutely pummeled her you-know-what to oblivion…As the drilling continued she went in a state of hypnotic trance like silence and was just moaning like a wounded animal,” he says with sickening imagery.  While this was probably the musings of an arrogant dickwad getting off on the idea that thousands of strangers were reading about his sexual thoughts, it coerces the question of whether it is appropriate for a university forum to publish such offensive subject matter.

From unknown ‘buddies’ on MSN, to MySpace bios, to Facebook posts about “how skinny is too skinny”, it seems as though the internet has forced individuals to draw the line once again.   We are now using the most confessional website on the internet (Facebook) to form confessional groups to confess further. How meta can things get? There’s no doubt that it’s in our nature to love a bit of gossip, but when every university seems to have created their own confessions page and is increasingly committed to them, we seem to have taken this self-obsessed commentary/gossip/hating/trolling/whatever way too far.  Whether it be banal musings on wardrobe choices, dictations on repressed sexual desire, ‘tolerance’ of international students or abhorrent misogyny, defining ourselves as university students by way of our confessions is a bit tabloid-trashy for my taste. Can we keep it to the back pages of mX please?

Vice Chancellor Michael Spence.

Michael Spence

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