Anonymous Confessions Provide Much-Needed Finals Distraction For Stressed Students

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"You know, I played it cool but you actually did a really shitty thing," the message read. "I wouldn't have minded in the slightest if you'd been up front about your intentions, but you gave me every indication that it wasn't going to be a one night stand. So that's why I scowl at you whenever I see you. Tosser."

No, that wasn't pulled from a heartbroken teen's blog, nor was it a plot device taken from some movie about social networks. It's one of just under 18,000 unsigned posts written for UC Berkeley's spring 2010 AnonCon.

Whether caused by melancholy or excitement, relief that it's almost over or a sense of dread before that last final, the itch to get away from studying at the end of the semester inevitably gets the better of many students and AnonCon - short for Anonymous Confessions - stands ready to distract UC Berkeley's population of future politicians, doctors and entrepreneurs from things they should be more worried about.

It began in spring 2005 as a thread on the campus's LiveJournal community. The rules for UC Berkeley's first AnonCon were simple - post your confessions for the world to see, do it anonymously, be honest and be respectful if you reply to somebody else's post - and sprung out of a suggestion made, fittingly, by an anonymous user.

"I'm not really a Republican," the first post stated. "I just don't care very much about politics, so I support Bush to piss people off. If I lived in somewhere like Utah I'd be the biggest flaming liberal ever."

With that, a finals season tradition was born on campus. It stayed a part of the campus LiveJournal community until the spring of 2008, when it was canceled because of the negativity that the moderators said had turned the semesterly event into a "festering slime pool of suck," according to the post canceling AnonCon that semester. But that did not mark its end.

"A group of us wanting to keep the tradition alive moved AnonCon to its current ucb_anoncon community after the ucberkeley community canceled it in 2008," said a current AnonCon moderator and 2007 campus alum known in the community as "PLUMPKIN," in a LiveJournal message.

While AnonCon was first created as a forum in which students could confess their secrets, it has become another of the many ways students procrastinate during finals and vent their frustrations, according to PLUMPKIN.

"The anonymous nature of AnonCon creates an environment where people can step outside of their boxes and post comments without fear of any repercussions," they said in the message. "You could go as far and say that AnonCon is a microcosm of what would happen if we weren't restrained by social norms."

Campus junior Gurjit Badhesha agreed, saying that while she doesn't post on AnonCon, she reads it as a break from the constant reading and studying during finals.

"I like when you have holes in your tights," another spring 2010 message read, confessing a classroom crush like so many others do every semester. "I wish I had the courage to talk to you in class, you seem really cool."

"It's really sweet," Badhesha said. "I don't really enjoy reading the malicious posts."

LiveJournal AnonCon threads exist on communities at UC San Diego and UCLA, according to PLUMPKIN. Others can be found by doing a quick Google search, and Oberlin College's AnonCon served as an inspiration for UC Berkeley's first.

But UC Berkeley's tradition seems larger and more vibrant than similar communities at other campuses, being constantly used since its creation. For the days it is active each semester, the rate of new posts is greater than on the campus's LikeALittle page - a year-round forum for anonymous posting.

"The primary reason AnonCon tends to be so busy is that it only happens twice a year during finals week," PLUMPKIN said in the message. "Since AnonCon is around so briefly, people typically don't get tired of it and hence look forward to it each semester."


Contact Nick Myers at [email protected]

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