Confessions page by colleges are trending online

IIT Confessions #405: This is the darkest page of my life …I belong from [to] a lower middle class family. I h[a]v[e] been sexually molested. I was just so young to understand what was going on and don’t exactly remember how many times and by how many people, 5-6 I guess, but yes, this much I know [that] they all were close relations and some are my cousins.

Anna University Confessions #128: I was kalachifying one of my friend in senior veg mess, every one around was laughing at him. He got so angry and threw an idli at me, it hit the wall and bounced back like a rubber ball and hit him back in his face. He left the mess full of chutney on his face, still the idly was intact. It took us while to control our laughter ## Sweet memories [2006]

That is the range of anonymous revelations one can find on college ‘confessions pages’, which are fast becoming an online trend. The pages are a churning pot as Vasant Sridhar of IIT Madras points out, “They deal with common problems an IITian or any collegian may face – substance abuse, disinterest in academics, placements and difficulty in approaching the opposite sex.” However, Vinod D. Varghese, a software engineer, feels it is a response to a deeper human need, “Humans have always tried to express what is there in their mind in various ways, but this process has always remained incomplete”. He adds, “Facebook allowed people to brag their thoughts, but confession pages address the need to deal with the inferiority complex.”

“Confessions are a fairly old mode of recovery,” believes C.S. Venkiteswaran, a media critic. “We already have groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. These pages take that mode online. It is vulnerability, through which you want the world to look at you.”

Attention-seeking gimmick?

Not everyone thinks of the trend positively, though. Many, like Krish Prashanth of SASTRA University, seem to echo Eleanor Roosevelt’s sentiment ‘small minds discuss people’. “It is a mere attention seeking gimmick; instead of feeling any retribution, people post their wrongdoings anonymously and pride themselves on the likes and comments they receive”, he says. Nachiketa Janardhan of IIT Madras, believes confessions pages are for ‘voyeurs, who are interested in petty gossip’. But Arjun Arul, a student at the Chennai Mathematical Institute, admits, "It served as comic relief during the exams, though the proposals part is just creepy when not hilarious."

According to Mansi Thakkar of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, the pages reveal deep anti-woman biases, “Women are talked about cheaply and targeted. Slut shaming is also a disturbing trend.” Sumedh Kapoor, a teacher and parent, adds, “As a parent of a girl, the posts make me concerned about her safety. Many of the posts abuse teachers. The administrator must filter the posts.” But will the moderated confessions have the same effect?

Whether it is plain honesty, a voyeuristic act or sheer escapism, one cannot overlook the storm these confession pages are brewing- if that storm is in a teacup, time alone will tell.