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Not for ND Confessions

Joel Kolb | Friday, April 12, 2013

“Secrets, secrets are no fun, secrets, secrets hurt someone.”  For those of you who recognize this quote, congratulations. For those who don’t, it is spoken by a stripper in the Benjamin Franklin episode of The Office, back when Jim and Pam were Jim and Pam. As Michael Scott reflects on the happenings of the day, he notes the irony which comes from the female dancer teaching the most profound life lesson of the day. It is only human to want to hear others’ secrets, but continuing to keep secrets is good for no one.
No doubt within the past month you or someone you know has looked at or possibly even liked the Facebook page ND Confessions. When I first found out about the page, I spent at least a half an hour reading secrets shared by my fellow Notre Dame students. Some of the so-called “confessions” are quite humorous, such one marveling at their recent weight loss despite a propensity towards drinking and laziness.  Besides posts which attempt sensationalism and are almost certainly untrue, many people around campus have felt compelled to share something deep and meaningful.   
Old news doesn’t get better with age.  This idiom lies at the heart of a student’s motivation to make a true and most of the time alarming confession on this Facebook page. When something goes wrong, it is at first human nature to cover it up.  It is almost easier to ignore a bad experience and move on like it never happened. Keeping something bottled up, however, only leads to feeling worse about the previous negative experience. Eventually, you feel the need to let out the secret for the world to know. None of this is exactly groundbreaking news to anyone, but what disturbs me is what these confessions imply about our student body.  
For one, how many people are there on campus who do not feel comfortable enough to talk to a single person about their deepest concerns? Discounting the mildly humorous or completely untrue confessions, there seems to be an unhealthy amount of people who have concluded there is nowhere else to turn besides the Internet. While initially it seems someone sharing a hardship in their life would help ease that person’s load, I believe a confession on ND Confessions provides little to no benefits. Although people may be comforting you or showing compassion, the fact that it is anonymous and over the Internet takes out the human part of consoling someone – namely, seeing the look on someone’s face, the body language of that person, the inflections in their voice and physically being there to comfort  someone.

As for the rest of the confessions, they seem better suited for an actual confessional than a Facebook page. Sexually related posts are ubiquitous in most ND Confessions, and in this sense ND Confessions is no more than a gossip column. I’m not sure exactly why people feel the need to share their sexual stories, other than to try to one up each other. I recently read two posts by incoming freshman for next year. Truthfully, I’m embarrassed that this is the impression we’re giving some of the incoming freshman about Our Lady’s University.  
Overall, I’m not sure exactly what the ramifications of such a site will have on the student body.  ND Confessions might be popular and entertaining at first, but after a short time all the shocking and deep confessions might blend together, in which case the people who actually need help only become more dejected and lost then when they made their confession in the first place.
If you have not yet checked out the Facebook page, I would recommend doing so, if for no other reason than to see what I’m talking about and make conclusions of your own.  For those of you who actually would like to make a confession, rather than logging onto Facebook I would suggest heading over to the Basilica any weekday to receive real relief from your burdens.

Joel Kolb lives in St. Edward’s Hall and is a sophomore studying mechanical engineering. He can be reached at jkolb1@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.