Late at night, curled in bed and delaying sleep or avoiding work, many Occidental students scroll through the shocking and frequently humorous “Oxy Confessions,” available via Facebook for evening entertainment. “Oxy Confessions” became part of the Occidental College experience in late October, publishing “confessions” that anyone can submit anonymously through a Google Form. This page may be a tool for procrastination, but the extensive engagement with the page also indicates students’ investment in their shared experience on campus. Each time readers empathize with a struggling peer, celebrate a shared passion or hope someone took note of how great they looked that day, students are connecting with each other and developing a sense of community online and on campus.
At its best, the page is a place where community members can share their voices with the knowledge that at least some of their peers are listening. “Oxy Confessions'” open and honest platform encourages students to invest in each other, and every post, like or comment continues to foster a sense of community.
The majority of the confessions pertain to typical college social dynamics. Carnal appreciation for unnamed individuals, sports teams and dance groups take up most of the page. Proposals for intimate conversations under the stars atop Mount Fiji pop up now and again, and lengthy rants about broken friendships and betrayal are constant. What drives “Oxy Confessions'” 1,303 likes is the anonymity that allows readers to wildly speculate as to whom each confession is about, and more importantly, whether it is about them. That desire to connect with others may often come off as silly, but it is essentially human and demonstrates students’ desire to be a part of the campus community.
It appears that in “Oxy Confessions,” anything goes for prospective love.
“Found my professor on Tinder… and we had a match…” anonymous post No. 2766 said.
While this post shows shows the quirky side of the confessions, the page ultimately allows readers to not only recognize that others crave love and attention just as much as they do, but that there is a good chance they are appreciated more than they realize.
Similar to an addiction, students frequently feel a sense of guilt after perusing “Oxy Confessions” and fear they are wasting time. For others, reading the more alarming confessions triggers a sense of guilt. Stories of drug use, rape, depression, sex, incest or wildly offensive comments usually fall into this category.
Though some of the posts deal with uncomfortable realities of college life, the support expressed in reference to pronouncements of depression, loneliness or other problems shows the true value of “Oxy Confessions.” It may be naïve to assume that the reader’s first intent when reading those sort of confessions is to help, but amazingly, such confessions are usually met with comments from people who truly care. Readers respond with empathy and a willingness to connect with the confessor if he or she wishes to reach out.
The anonymous host of “Oxy Confessions” also typically provides appropriate hotlines and resources for confessions. The simple possibility that these messages of support might reach students in need reinforces that engaging with the page is not a waste of time.
What brings most students back to the site time and again is the opportunity to step away from life’s stresses and share a moment with fellow students — even anonymously. Students stop to engage in generational nostalgia for TV shows like Disney’s “Lizzie McGuire,” decide where they fall on the page’s constant contention of political correctness or agree that students waiting in the pasta line will eventually turn to ash.
A recent post exemplifies the type of pop culture laments that often appear on the page.
“I don’t have hobbies, interests or friends. What I have are distractions to keep me occupied until the next ‘Game of Thrones’ book or season is out,” anonymous post No. 2802 said.
The post’s popularity legitimizes its perspective and normalizes watching geeky television like “Game of Thrones,” which can be as big a part of college life as hanging out with friends or joining clubs. Realizing that there are at least 50 other people on campus who are deeply invested in silly but awesome interests like fantasy TV shows connects and unites readers.
Other platforms such as clubs, classes, student government or even just reading and responding to email can spark a strong sense of community as well. But students are drawn to the mysterious, silly, sexy and blunt nature of “Oxy Confessions,” and who can blame them? Readers of this page should also prioritize going to class and finishing their essays, but time spent interacting with others via “Oxy Confessions” has a valid and even vital role to play in students’ daily lives.
Through “Oxy Confessions'” open and honest dialogue, maybe even more students can agree with confessor No. 2720.
“I like Occidental,” anonymous post No. 2720 said.