Story by ANDY LYONS, News Editor—
A new Facebook page, created by UCM students and alumni, is both a form of dramatic entertainment and a way for users to anonymously blow off steam.
The UCM Confessions page launched Sunday and already has nearly 3,000 “likes.” The page takes submissions anonymously from a tumblr.com account with the disclaimer, “What would you like to confess? (Remember: No one can see who you are, not even admins… this is 100% anonymous).” The confessions are then displayed on the Facebook page.
The confessions cover a wide variety of topics, including party antics, complaints, dirty laundry and personal admissions. Everything from lighting genitalia on fire, public nudity, masturbation involving a hard-boiled egg to life in the dorms or with roommates is confessed on the page. One user admitted to urinating on the soda gun and on liquor bottles in a closed section of a bar on Pine Street.
The creators of the page, who prefer to remain anonymous, are either alumni or current students at UCM. They started the page as a social experiment, and expected about 1,000 likes by the end of the week, not almost 3,000 in three days.
The page has taken about 1,300 submissions so far, according to the creators. They know the nature of topics people will admit to when they can remain nameless.
“We do understand that some of the content is offensive, and some of them are considered campus crimes, but we figured people would admit to those things under a cloak of anonymity,” the creators said.
Students and faculty have had mixed reactions to the content of the page. Amber Pope, an entrepreneurship major, said she feels that if people posted real, heartfelt confessions that others wouldn’t be so offended by it. She said that at the same time, people don’t have to read the page, and that they choose to let themselves get upset over what’s posted.
Heather Camuso, an elementary education major, said she sees it as a form of entertainment.
“It kind of freaks me out, but it is entertaining,” she said. “I will definitely be watching my fellow students more closely. You never know who pees all over stuff or masturbates in strange locales.”
The creators said that students seem to love the page and have been responding well to posts. They anticipated that the faculty wouldn’t be too keen on it.
Dr. Joe Moore, an assistant professor in the communication department, hasn’t viewed the page yet.
“I haven’t seen it and I’m not going to look at it,” he said. “I think it is a bad idea that is only going to cause stress, heartache and trouble.”
Dr. Carol Atkinson, a professor in the communication department, echoed Moore’s sentiment.
“I thought some of the postings were funny, mostly very boy humor though. Many of the postings were pretty gross for me, like reality shows,” she said. “You have to ask yourself, do people really live like this or is this all made up to get attention? A quick shot at fame? Trying to embarrass someone you know and don’t like? I won’t revisit the page, that’s for sure.”
There are confessions about dorm life and where tuition money goes, including rants about the conditions of the dorms on campus. However, many seem built around shock value with their content. Ed Wirthwein, assistant director of the Union, compared the site to the State Farm Insurance commercial that had the beautiful blonde woman going on a blind date with the “French model” she met online.
“I have been telling my students not to believe everything you see on the Internet. It is easy to post anonymously and make stuff up,” he said. “I really hope our students aren’t believing everything they see on there. “
The creators said they would probably use the page to promote events around the school and view it as a way for the University to improve their social networking efforts because of the issues brought up in the confessions. Once the fervor of the launch dies down, they foresee continuing the confession posts. They compared the site to other college confession sites and said all of the activity is normal.
Requests made to members of UCM administration were largely unanswered by press time, except for a statement from Jeff Murphy, assistant director of university relations.
“We are aware of the page,” he said. “We want people to know that this page is not affiliated with the University, but is something that was created by an individual.”
The creators said that in the end they would like to work with the University to help their social networking efforts, and offered a disclaimer to UCM administration.
“We did not mean to harm the reputation of UCM in any way, and this started out as just an experiment that grew much faster than we were expecting,” the creators said. “If you’d like us to take anything down, or shut the page down completely, do feel free to contact us and we will comply to an extent.”