NMMU Confessions ... a social media phenomenon Recent blog posts

NMMU Confessions ... a social media phenomenon

Forgive me Father for I have sinned ... my confession is to you, but what of the hundreds, nay thousands, of young people who are sharing it all - their angst, their quandaries, their love lives and their downright thoughtless stupidity - with the world on a new Facebook page, NMMU Confessions?  

It's only been going a week, but already the NMMU Confessions Face Book page has close to 8000 followers - people who like what others are sharing anonymously in the form of confessions. By this morning more than 325 anonymous confessions had been shared with even more individuals responding to the stuff that people feel they need to get off their chests (in front of the world).  


The NMMU page is far from unique. A quick review of South Africa's universities shows that just about all of them have a confessions page linked to their name too. Rhodes University had one closed down, but another new one was started the following day! That's the thing with social media - it's a bit like a weed. It pops up all the time, in places you'd prefer it not too and any efforts to remove or poison it, generally just sees the unwelcome visitor return stronger and more determined than ever.


That's why we believe it's better to let this sleeping dog lie. If we were to officially like the page and comment negatively in an official capacity, the dog would jump up. And then there'd be loud, large-scale aggressive barking were we to close the page down (which, in terms of the name usage, we could ask Facebook to do). Nah, we'd rather let this sleeping dog lie - and hopefully die in its sleep. You see, we're hoping that this present social media phenomenon is but a passing phase and will die a natural death.


This is, of course, if the administrator of the page doesn't keel over from lack of sleep first. Methinks, there must be an army of respondents poring over all the confessions before posting them every 10 to 20 minutes or so. It's become a full-time job! Let's hope the unknown administrator is not a student because his or her study time is being seriously deroded.


As too is the study time of those who are responding to those who are smitten by classmates, suffering from BO, irritated with poor service, jolted by lovers, married across the colour bar without their parents' knowledge, cheesed off with friends, appalled by competition etc etc. They reply in large numbers to such confessions - these Agony Aunts of the 21st century. Their feedback and names are there too for all the world to see. Much of the feedback is helpful, sensible, supportive and largely harmless (even good for a giggle) but other responses are just downright stupid. They are the kind of responses that will get the known individuals into trouble, and cause trouble and unhappiness for others too.


I mean how sensible is it to ask how to hack a computer to change your marks; share how you outsmarted security staff with your stash of weed or how using a part of your anatomy can secure all sorts of favours. Not smart. Not smart at all. One careless thoughtless remark can do irreparable harm - ask TV personalities Lance Whitten and Darren Scott and NMMU's own student Sitha Gqomfa, who made that mistake. 


A platform for sharing is good - it's good for all sorts of reasons - but like anything in life, with such freedom comes responsibilities. I think what I'm  trying to say is that we need to PLEASE THINK before sharing on such a page because we're not sharing with a benevolent Aunt or a Catholic priest in a confessional, but with the world. 


Phew, I am getting far too serious, aren't I? This was not my intention. Nor do I believe is it the intention of NMMU Confessions page. I'd like to believe they're simply giving folk space to openly share and receive free feedback, but more than that I believe the page is there to give us a good laugh and distract us from more important matters - like studying for examinations! 


And so forgive me Father for I have sinned for I got sidetracked and spent far too long trawling through other people's lives when I should have been working!



Posted by Debbie Derry on 05 June 2013 11:19:21

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Online Community Manager
These confessions pages are certainly a very interesting (if not troubling!) penomenon.
12/06/2013 12:00:49
Everyone wants to be heard, everyone wants to share (Yourself included by the looks of things) how much one is willing to share is relative. personally I enjoy seeing freedom of speech/expression being practised (use it or lose it principle). As to the validity/truth of the confessions no one knows, they could all be lies for all we know.
06/06/2013 13:19:43

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