A common pastime for procrastinators on Sunday nights, the Wesleyan Anonymous Confession Board (ACB) is always captivating and often controversial. The website, which celebrated its first anniversary yesterday, is a LiveJournal account, an online open forum where students can anonymously discuss, complain, or vent about whatever they want.
Subjects discussed on the site range from relationship issues, sex questions, eating disorders, and abortion to lighter topics such as crushes, dealing with pubic hair, and tips on quitting smoking.
Opinions about the website’s value vary. While some only see the ACB as a procrastinating tool and a voyeuristic peek into others’ lives, many students think it can be a healthy part of life at the University.
“It’s a good way for students to vent about stuff that’s bothering them,” said Tori Amoscato ’08.
The anonymity afforded by the ACB is, perhaps, the website’s most essential feature. It allows posters to express themselves openly without censoring wit, candor, or compassion.
“It’s easier to admit a deep, dark secret when you don’t have your name attached – you can be honest without the [fear of] backlash,” said Eleanor Winn ’09.
“Anonymity gives people a chance to say things they’re afraid to [normally],” agreed Amoscato.
Although many students lauded the ACB as an outlet for venting, some regretted ACB posters mentioning the full names of their post subjects.
“People are allowed to write what they want,” said Liana Hernandez ’09. “But they should be confessing things, not writing about people. That’s something you do in person to people you know.”
Sarah Alpert ’07 believes that the board is unnecessary.
“By posting on the Anonymous Confession Board, you’re asking to have drama in your life. It’s like People [magazine’s] gossip column but about college kids,” she said.
Even those who read the ACB regularly admit that the website has faults.
“It’s obviously really pointless and divisive and mean, but at the same time it’s fascinating,” said Emily Umhoefer ’08.
Several students recommended similar online forums that are less gossip-oriented.
Kate Heller ’09 reads PostSecret, an online blog whose creator, Frank Warren, displays confessions that anonymous users send to him on hand-made decorated postcards, as part of a continuous art project. The website, http://postsecret.blogspot.com/, has few rules regarding submissions.
“Each secret can be a regret, hope, funny experience, unseen kindness, fantasy, belief, fear, betrayal, erotic desire, feeling, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything – as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before,” reads the website submission guidelines.
Some students advocate chalking as a form of anonymous confession, despite the fact that University banned the practice several years ago.
“Chalking is a much more visceral experience than typing in your own separate room,” said Nate Ash-Morgan ’08.
Perhaps the ACB has strayed into the realm of gossip columns, but its sustained popularity must mean that it is doing something right. It does not seem as though it is going anywhere soon.