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Schrieber 1 Kaitlyn Schrieber Professor Campbell ENGL 1102 April 8, 2012 What is confession? According to dictionary.

com it is, acknowledgment or disclosure of sinfulness. This is the official definition; however, we each have our own personal thoughts as to what confession really is. It is possible for it to be religion based though it doesnt have to be. Confession for the sake of confessing is a relatively new idea and initially kicked off in 2004 with the creation of Postsecret. Frank Warren, founder of Postsecret, was one of the first people to utilize confession in an anonymous way and stir the need to contribute in thousands of people. Postsecret started out as an experiment in which Warren pre-addressed 3,000 post cards and passed them out to strangers. He wrote two things on the backs of the cards: to lavishly decorate them and to write on them a confession that they have never told to anyone else. Though Warren handed out thousands of these cards, he was surprised to receive thousands more back. Everyone wanted to participate (Dubner). Postsecret inspired the creation of many websites, each a booming success in the new era of confession. Websites such as noteful.com, confessions.com and grouphug.us accumulated thousands of contributors and even more readers. With the popularity of confession growing every day, existing social media started to take notice. Facebook and YouTube are being used more and more to confess and to post secrets online; status updates were now more personal and

Schrieber 2 confession videos were put up by the hundreds. With this explosion in online confession, eventually even the churches became aware of the phenomenon. The first mention of confession was in the Old Testament in Leviticus 5: 5-6. It states, When you are guilty, immediately confess the sins that youve committed This is an idea that has been alive in many religions for centuries, though it wasnt until Jesus anointed the apostles as the first priests that regular confession in churches deemed it a formality. When big holidays such as Christmas and Easter come around, believers make their way to the Church for their biannual confessions. Over the years, churches noticed a decrease in the daily or even monthly confessions and an increase in annual confessions. The number of Catholics participating in the sacrament of penance has dropped dramatically from the 1950s, when many lined up weekly for confession. Still, slightly more than a quarter of the nation's 69 million Catholics go to confession at least once a year, according to a 2005 poll conducted by Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (wwrn.org). With this dramatic change came the realization that something had to change; churches everywhere decided that it was time to make confession available online. Confession was now available online through churchs, however most people werent comfortable with the idea of running to religion and decided to stick to the popular social media sites. After all, not all confessions are sins. I myself have been curious as to what it would be like to post my thoughts on Facebook; I have wondered what feedback I would receive had I posted a confession video. Common sense, at least thats what I would call it, prevented me from doing so and after my research began I was consciously aware of each instance in which my curiosity would peak. Though I never actually posted secrets of my own, I grew curious as to what inspired other people to do so.

Schrieber 3 Confessions, I typed that one word into Google and immediately got over sixty eight million results. They ranged from mommy confession sites, to online confessionals for churches, to anonymous confession forums. The results, as well as the possibilities, were endless. Immediately my excitement took over and I dug in and what I found was shocking. I had started my internet endeavor with the assumption that these confessions would be minor and innocent. I was very wrong. A lot of the posts were dark and demented. They were heavy and cruel or disgusting. For example, I am extremely suicidal, but sometimes I wonder what it would be like to take the life of my lover. It would be perfect to watch her blood run down my hands and pool behind my back. I would want her to end me too. I want her to end me (noteful.com). This is an example of one of the more appropriate posts, meaning that it wasnt nearly as vulgar or sex-obsessed as some of the other posts. After I read it, I realized the reason that it was anonymous. My immediate reaction was to judge the author, to deem him or her as less than normal, and thats exactly why websites like these exist. They allow people to post what theyre feeling without the hassle of dealing with the judgments that would otherwise follow. Judgment is something that we deal with on a daily basis; are we wearing the right clothes? Are we acting acceptable? Are we parenting children correctly? Is what were feeling right, or even normal? Perhaps this is why so many confession videos are created. People want the confirmation that there are others out there that have been or are going through the same situation. However, with these videos, they dont always get the answer that they want such as in the case of Amanda Todd. Amanda Todd was a 15 year old teenager from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, and she was one of the many to post a video to tell her story. When she was in seventh grade, a stranger convinced her to flash the webcam for him. She didnt think anything of it until a year

Schrieber 4 had passed and the stranger returned. He said that if she didnt put on a show for him, he would send the picture he had taken a screen shot of her bare chest to everyone she knew. The stranger knew everything about her life, he knew the names and addresses of all of her family and friends and he was willing to use that against her. When she didnt do as he had asked, he held up his end of the threat. Her picture was sent to everyone and everyone lost respect for her. An old guy friend reached out to her, but for all of the wrong reasons. He told her to come over because his girlfriend was out of town and she did. His girlfriend found out and was furious. This is where things took a turn for the worse. Amanda had already moved to a new city and was attending a new school when his girlfriend and a group of fifteen, including him, showed up. They beat her up, and that night she drank bleach.

An ambulance came and took her to the hospital and, luckily, they were able to flush her stomach in time. This attempt to take her own life started a new round of vicious blows; people were now posting pictures of bleach online and tagging her. The comments would read, She should try a different bleach. I hope she dies this time and isnt so stupid (YouTube.com).

Schrieber 5 After what seemed like a lifetime of horrid comments and dangerously vicious peers, Amanda Todd succeeded in taking her own life. She was found hanging in her home just weeks after her video had been posted. Since then, her video has gone viral. After seeing her video, I was curious as to what the comments would read. Would people support her? Or would they continue to torment her beyond the grave? Once again my findings could only be described with one word: Shocking. There are 79,484 comments on Amanda Todds confession video and not all are what you would think. Some are kind and some are startlingly dark. One of the people who bullied Amanda, or claims to have, leaves comments of his own. He goes by PipweedTheDoctor and he says: Ok ill give you a sensible answer as to why i bullied Amanda. She was weak, stupid and a VERY easy target. LOTS of fun to be had with her kind. There was one time i actually offered to stop teasing her and beating on her, i said if she had sex with me I would stop targetting her. and she said no. So she brought it all on herself in my opinion. I carried on bullying her, and she couldnt take it. She's dead while i'm still alive, that PROVES that i have won(YouTube.com). There are many retorts to these condescending and dark comments, which is proof that there are some people out there who care. They have taken the burden onto themselves to defend her, to carry on her battle even after she is gone. I dont understand why some people are bitter and mean like they are, but Ive definitely come to realize that there are individuals out there who are, in a word, crazy. They participate in dark and twisted deeds and feel no remorse. Take the comment above for example, not only does the author not feel remorse, he is proud of having participated in killing someone. He looks

Schrieber 6 back on it as a fond memory and is looking forward to his next victim. I dont understand how someone could be that cruel, care that little to the point of saying hey, shes dead. I won. Why do people leave these comments? Share these things? I believe that there is a variety of answers and each differs with each situation. Perhaps they confess to lift a burden, to tell a story, or maybe, to get attention. If a burden were to be lifted, would it be worth the consequence of the comments? Is it important that your story be told? If its attention that you seek, why search for the negative version? When a burden is weighing you down, it can seem like life isnt worth living. It can kill you on the inside if you carry it for too long. Eventually, you start to feel the desire to tell someone, anyone, whats going on. You either turn to a friend, a journal, or in many cases, the internet. The internet makes it possible to access thousands of confession forums at the click of a button and when there are so many options its impossible to not take notice. The most popular by far is Postsecret.com. It is a website dedicated to displaying peoples appropriately decorated secrets in an anonymous way to whoever chooses to access it.

Schrieber 7 So why do we choose to access it? What drives us to publishing our deepest darkest secrets online for the world to see? And should we give up our right of anonymity, is it worth the ridicule youll receive? Though I have searched, I still have yet to figure out WHY people post. I have theories, but I dont know the true reason. I suppose its because the reason is different for each individual. While each story is different, I have come to appreciate and respect the people who have the courage to post their secrets online. Granted, most are messed up, but some are really deep. They are great examples of people who are moving on and are ready to share the hard parts of their lives. And while I am finding out more and more every day, one question still remains, why?

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Works Cited Confessions Becoming Internet Norm. wwrn.org. World Wide Religious News. Web. 3 April 2013. Dubner, Stephen. Freakonomics.com. Freakonomics LLC. Will Frank Warren Spill His Secrets? Bring Your Questions for the PostSecret Guy. 10 December 2007. Web. 1 April 2013. No Title. Noteful.com. Noteful.com. Web. 29 March 2013. The Message Remix. Ed. Eugene H. Peterson. Navpress: Colorado Springs, 2003. Print. Todd, Amanda. My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self-harm. Youtube, Youtube. 7 September 2012. Web. 16 March 2013.