“Ignorance is bliss.” – Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College; Thomas Gray.
School and College ‘confessions pages’ have become a rising trend in cyber space over the last few months, with such unofficial pages bearing names of nearly all major schools and colleges sprouting up on social networking sites (like, Facebook).
The anonymity that these pages promise satisfies teenagers as it bypasses Facebook’s demand that people should use their real identity on their social network. Luckily for page administrators, Facebook policy enables them to mask their true identity; also, thanks to Google Docs, the contributor’s identity is secure.
Though these pages sometimes prove to be a salvation for distressed students; moments of empathy are often flooded with crude and raunchy comments and posts.
Not only can the lewd and improper posts trigger depression amongst the victims, it can also ruin an institution’s reputation. Due to the lack of privacy, outsiders might mistake the many accounts of telltales for an actual depiction of campus life.
These ‘confession pages’, in its worst phase, can be used as a medium for cyber bullying, if multiple posts are targeted at a particular person.
Teenage years are the most crucial and impressionable years of a person’s life, and even one comment can cripple a person’s self-confidence to a point where one feels all is lost (Refer the Amanda Todd and Rehtaeh Parsons cases).
But there are some who say that bullying is part of school life. It helps kids stand on their own feet and fight for themselves. In the olden days, there was always the playground bullying – One huge kid walking with his gang of chubby friends, snatching lunch money from a skinny boy and beating him up. The skinny boy then grows up to be a handsome, masculine hunk who goes on to beat the bullies. A typical Bollywood movie plot, eh?
But cyber bullying is different, ‘cause there is no fresh start. In the case of playground bullying, the victim can leave his school/college and start life in a new, safer institution. He can move on. But in the case of these confession pages – there is no fresh start. Anyone, and I repeat anyone, can read confessions about you – Even your friends and relatives.
So what should be done about it?
Well, deleting confession pages isn’t going to be a feasible solution, as no one is going to agree with it – students love anything the school and college authorities despise.
So for starters, these confession pages should stop using the particular institution’s logos and/or remove any pictures of the institution – Don’t make it look official; it isn’t.
Secondly, screen confessions. I know this goes against the very foundation of a ‘confession’, but it needs to be done. There are things that should not go public. It may be considered just a school’s or college’s confession, but it may have irreparable consequences outside.
To end with, I’d like to quote Uncle Ben (from Spiderman), and give a short message to the Page Administrators – “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
Be responsible, stay safe.