Kenyon Confessions, a Facebook page that provides an anonymous outlet for students to share their darkest secrets and deepest feelings, has rapidly become this year’s most significant addition to the Kenyon community. Over the course of the past week, the Observer exchanged a series of messages with the anonymous administrator of the page, allowing them to share their thoughts about the page’s practices, processes and progress.
TKO: How do you decide which confessions do/don’t get published?
KC: Well for starters, I have some basic guidelines about confessions I won’t post: nothing with students’ real names or specifically identifying information, nothing overly vitriolic about specific Kenyon faculty members, nothing with a link in it, no song lyrics (honestly, who cares?).
But from there, I do have to pare it down because if I posted all the confessions I get, then it would flood everyone’s feeds even more than it already does. From there it gets pretty arbitrary. I stopped posting really simple ones like “I really like you” or “omg how do I talk to you” because they’re not very creative or entertaining.
TKO: Some of the confessions people post are things that no one would ever say out loud, but others can range more toward political speech. Where do you see yourself in Kenyon’s broader discourse?
KC: I don’t see myself as part of any “discourse.” I see myself as a way for everyone to get their darkest secrets off their chests without having to fear alienation or judgment from others. There’s so much pent up stress at Kenyon and gossip travels so quickly that a lot of people don’t feel like they can really say these things, which is why I’ve given them a way to do so. I try and keep the page balanced more towards actual confessions than “political” posts, as you describe them, but sometimes I like to post obviously inflammatory submissions just to see everyone’s reaction. I don’t have an agenda when I choose to post things like that except to get people talking about the page and to stir up drama.
TKO: Do you worry that there’s such a thing as too much anonymity?
KC: Well, anonymity certainly has its drawbacks. Any old asshole can feel free to share his shitty opinions about things without having to worry about it coming back to him. But to the extent that the format of this page (and Facebook in general) is limited to people just saying things rather than anonymously taking action, I don’t think there’s too much. It’d be one thing if you could anonymously cause somebody direct harm, but that’s not the case with this page.
People get far too offended by what they read online. I don’t think people should take a series of posts and comments as seriously as they do. I only take this page seriously enough to keep it going and to keep people talking about it. I’ve gotten a number of messages from people asking me to moderate comments or moderate confessions for the sake of “the mental health of the community,” but I think it would be more beneficial for people to stop taking the Internet so seriously
Of course, I don’t actually want people to stop getting offended by some of the things on the page because then they’d stop coming back. The knee-jerk reaction of being offended that seems so prevalent at Kenyon is part of why this page is so successful. I don’t wanna lose my readership, after all. 😉
TKO: You just hit 1000 likes, which is more followers than the Thrill (just over 750) and more than twice the number of allstu subscribers (just over 400). Are you surprised that the page has been as successful as it is?
KC: Really? More subscribers than allstu? Wow, I had no idea.
It’s become a lot bigger than I expected, especially for a school of this size. I was a little nervous at the beginning that it wouldn’t take off, but like most things at Kenyon, once people realized that others were participating in it they all wanted to join in on the fun.
TKO: I guess after screening so many confessions you may wind up becoming a tad desensitized. Which confessions have surprised you the most and what still makes you do double-takes?
KC: Well, to be honest nothing in particular jumped out at me as all that surprising. I guess like many other people I was a little surprised at just how much of campus seems to have this pent-up sexual tension. I wasn’t surprised at how many people were secretly feeling really down about themselves, though. I guess I was expecting more confessions about how people secretly hated their friends. A few of them have made me laugh out loud, but nothing’s ever really made me do a double take.
TKO: After spending a few months reading Kenyon’s darkest secrets and deepest feelings, do you have any advice for us?
KC: The internet is full of shitty opinions, shitty advice and complete and utter untruths – people need to keep this in mind. I think Kenyon students are generally too afraid to speak their mind when it comes to potentially confrontational situations, which I believe is part of the reason for the page’s success.
Maybe the lesson to take away from all this is that Kenyon students would feel a lot less stressed out all the time if they had the courage to express themselves, whether it be to their crushes or to people who are pissing them off in the servery. People-pleasing, trying not to step on others’ toes and veering away from any possible chance of rejection is not gonna get you anywhere in life. But it makes the rest of us feel better to know that somebody else is going through the same problems that we are.