“[I’m] secretly afraid to walk by the football players in Cheney when I’m wearing yoga pants.”
Over 77 anonymous tweets such as this one, posted on March 28 to the Twitter page “SC Confessions” (@SpfldConfession), which is not affiliated with Springfield College, have dominated the online Twitter landscape involving Springfield College since Tuesday, March 26 when the account was created.
In a single day, the page accumulated more than 700 followers according to a tweet marking the achievement by the page, and has 1,192 followers and counting. The page is designed to allow people to submit anonymous confessions through a direct message or a specialized Google doc. A site monitor(s) then presumably sorts through the submissions and publishes select ones.
Many of the tweets are graphic in content, employing what could be considered crass humor with the intended purpose of drawing laughs. For many Springfield College students, the Twitter page achieves that purpose.
“SC Confessions is outrageous. It’s hilarious and startling because it grants Twitter followers crude and comical confessions [about] anonymous SC students,” junior Elena Gasparri said.
At the same time, its tweets can tread the line between funny versus inappropriate, offensive and even hurtful. There are certain tweets that target a specific group of students, such as a March 29th tweet, “I wonder if the Saudi kids know about this twitter? They should stop smoking though.”
Such tweets are what concern Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students David Braverman and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Associate Dean of Students Terry Vecchio.
“Some people think that something might be funny to them, but it’s belittling to somebody else,” Braverman said. “It seems funny at the time, but it actually turned out to be a very hurtful thing to say and inadvertently, they’ve alienated or hurt a group of folks or individuals.”
Comedy has always treaded a fine line, and that line can be crossed if people are not cautious. Some of the tweets may have already crossed that line, while others have worked the balancing act to perfection by being not only acceptable but also funny.
“I find it funny but sometimes inappropriate. I think the people who send in their comments are harmless and just want to make memories,” senior Cassandra Preston said.
“There are some on there people relate to, [and] many people can laugh at, but we have to keep in mind this is a small campus,” Gasparri added. “Eventually, if it hasn’t happened already, something will go up there that can potentially damage a friendship, a relationship or a teammate dynamic. So as always, people need to be mindful and respect the powerful forces of social media.”
The first sign of this damaging possibility occurred on Wednesday, April 3. A tweet was posted to the site that read, “All of the AT majors think they’re the s—. Get over yourselves, you’re not doctors.” Springfield College senior Laura Johansmeyer, an Athletic Training major, responded with a tweet back, “@SpfldConfession definitely a jealous PT [Physical Therapy].”
In a phone interview, Johansmeyer addressed her feelings about the page and tweet regarding AT majors.
“From my understanding, this site is a joke and it’s meant to poke fun at each other,” Johansmeyer said. “My response to what was a joke was another joke, which got blown out of proportion.”
SC Confessions prolonged the situation by responding with a follow-up tweet that appeared to be written by its own site managers (due to the lack of quotation marks which are used every time a confession is posted), which read, “D— the ATs got really defensive about that tweet earlier #sensitive.” By taking it a step further to call out the entire AT major, the page upset Johansmeyer because it turned a joke into a confrontation.
“I would like to defend myself and I would like to defend my friends that are also in the major that put in a lot of work and put in a lot of effort for service to others. To have that kind of shot down is a little disrespectful in my eyes,” Johansmeyer said. “It looks like it’s more out to just bash people, when it should be fun and light and humorous,” Johansmeyer said.
After some back and forth, SC Confessions called out Johansmeyer as an individual on its page, tweeting “@ohh_lauraa #salty.”
The back-and-forth conversation, although an isolated circumstance, raises some concerns about the page’s purpose. Is targeting a student or student groups by name an appropriate use of the page, or should SC Confessions stick to its original purpose: sharing anonymous student confessions? There were already proponents for and against the page for its original intended purpose, and with this exchange, there may be more people that feel unsure about it depending on how it is used in the future.
“We want people to have a good time. We want people to have fun and be playful, but we don’t want anybody to get hurt, [and] we don’t want the school to be hurt,” Braverman said. “It worries me that people might think that it is [all] true, or that it’s representative of the Springfield College experience. When people put stuff on there in jest or trying to be clever, they represent the school in a way that’s not accurate.”
Vecchio stated that the school is not monitoring the site because they are not trying to control it. Instead, she hopes that students will monitor themselves.
“That shows a level of maturity that we don’t always see, certainly [even] in the adult population,” she said.
Despite its controversy, SC Confessions continues to rack up its followers and remains a hot topic on the campus of Springfield College as it treads a fine line between comedy and damaging tweets.
The account manager(s) of SC Confessions could not be reached for comment.