Last year, WHS students created their own anonymous Gossip Girl Twitter account to expose the personal lives of other students. Later that year, WHS Compliments, an anonymous Facebook user, appeared. The user invited students to submit anonymous compliments. This year, WHS Confessions—a Twitter account much like Collegefession—was created for students to once again exploit others. These accounts vary in purpose and popularity but they all have three things in common: they all are anonymous, untrustworthy and dangerous.
While “confessing” your secret stories and opinions may feel empowering, it’s important to question who’s on the receiving end. If you’re inboxing WHS Compliments, Confessions or Gossip Girl, you’re inboxing someone in this community. Why trust someone who has created an account asking for your personal thoughts and feelings? If that person is willing to expose everyone’s secrets, why would they feel the need to protect yours? Whether it’s spilling a secret you’ve been holding onto or confessing you care about someone, anonymity is never guaranteed. Your secrets are never safe.
Many have failed to realize that posting something inappropriate on the internet can have severe consequences. New Jersey has strict anti-bullying laws. According to njea.org, the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act states that harassment, intimidation or bullying is, “any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication [interfering with] the rights of other students,” and will be investigated.
These accounts involve posting comments and opinions that could be taken as a form of bullying. Students who post to these accounts potentially set themselves up for incrimination. Once you post, inbox or even “like” it never goes away. Your words can be used against you— forever—as soon as you hit enter.
It doesn’t matter if it’s just one comment; it doesn’t matter if you intend your “confession” as a joke. Unsolicited, personal or repetitive compliments can be read as sexual harassment. Sarcastic, satirical or ironic jokes can be read as bullying.
WHS is known for sending responsible students out into the world. We’ve always had a reputation for being a school focused on grades and college. Creating and giving attention to these accounts is tarnishing our reputation of excellence. But, more importantly, we’re endangering our future—the very future that we constantly plan for.
We need to move away from this careless trend of hiding behind a computer screen. If you have something nice to say, say it. If you have something you’re holding in, share it with someone you trust. If you’re looking for anonymity, Facebook and Twitter are not the right place to go. It’s easy to get sucked into the drama online but it’s smarter to avoid it all together.