A little over a year ago, a UC Davis sociology student decided to launch a website that would allow Aggies to post anything that was on their minds.
The creator of the site, AggiesConfess, has chosen to remain anonymous in order to preserve the safety of the site’s users. She believed students could use the anonymous forum to speak their minds and express themselves.
“You walk by hundreds of people every day, but you have no idea what’s on their minds,” the creator said. “On AggiesConfess you get a little insight into what is actually going on in the lives and minds of your peers.”
The concept is similar to the popular website and project, PostSecret, which is a blog updated every Sunday that features various confessions and secrets – an effort toward an atmosphere of acceptance and community. In 2008, Youth Trends named the blog the 10th most popular site amongst American female students.
“The site serves a lot of functions,” the creator said. “Some people need comedic relief, some need to just get a secret off their chest and others visit the site to see if they can relate to anyone.”
Christina Spragg, a predoctoral intern at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), said sites such as AggiesConfess can help people, even though they are anonymous.
“When you post anonymously you can try on different personas and opinions that you may not feel comfortable with in person,” she said. “It’s a safe way to share something for the first time.”
Posts on AggiesConfess feature everything from confessions of sexual desires to relationship hardships, friendship woes to roommate complaints.
Or posts such as, “I’m so amazing (done lots of things in life) but I don’t let anyone know because I don’t want to seem conceited,” show how students are sharing meaningful secrets that they do not feel comfortable expressing in person.
There have been over 550 confessions made on the website. It is impossible to monitor whether or not these confessions were all made by Aggies, as there is no registration or login required.
Julia Sobel, a senior psychology major, is familiar with PostSecret and isn’t surprised by the creation of AggiesConfess.
“It seems like pretty typical teenage, early 20s angst,” she said. “For some of the posts though, I could see where the admission of something would feel pretty cathartic.”
Spragg emphasized that just expressing yourself to anyone – even a faceless forum – can have great effects.
“You can feel connected to others by sharing your experience or just making it known to a group,” she said. “And then once you’ve said what’s on your mind, you don’t really have to sit with that issue again. You can sort of just get it off your chest and move on.”
The creator of AggiesConfess believes the site has a chance to become popular if is given the right publicity and used correctly, but Spragg does warn about becoming dependent on the site.
“Posting on the site limits your ability to talk extensively about the problem or issue at hand,” Spragg said. “Hiding behind anonymity, you may never learn how to be vulnerable with another person.”
To visit the site, go to formspring.me/AggiesConfess. It is completely anonymous and does not allow for anyone to comment on a post.
ANDY VERDEROSA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.