As the popularity and prevalence of social media rises, people are becoming increasingly aware of the way in which they are portrayed. Businesses now check Facebook pages and Instagram sites to find out more about their employees, and many students at FHSU are utilizing the web to their own advantage. Fort Hays Confessions is a Facebook group that was formed in August and allows users to post anonymously about their experiences at the university as well as everyday questions and comments.
The founders of this group wishes to remain anonymous but strongly believe in the purpose of this outlet for students. “We want people to be able to express, confess, or ask questions without fear of being personally attacked,” one of the founding members said. “Everyone should have the right to express themselves and get feedback from their peers without judgement or persecution.”
With over 2,200 likes, some of the more popular postings in Fort Hays Confessions discuss relationships, classes, campus happenings and events such as Oktoberfest or Homecoming. One user stated “My confession is that I go to Oktoberfest to watch drunk people be stupid and laugh at them. Also, I am the designated driver…for my parents…and I can’t legally drink either. I still have fun though.”
Although there are many posts that discuss serious issues, there are a significant amount of humorous comments as well. “Our page allows people to discuss controversial issues or thoughts with the safety of anonymity but on the lighter side, our page is also home to laughs, advice, and relatable Hays humor.” A post that has generated quite a few chuckles state: “Until about two years ago I thought the word “tenure” was “ten year” and that it meant teachers signed a contract to teach in that school for ten years.”
While students are entertained by the group and posts from their peers, there has also been some negative feedback. “We won’t specifically name anyone but we have received a great deal of backlash from certain controversial posts.” Postings that elicit negativity about FHSU are clearly disliked by some but the administrators of the group do monitor the posts and comments. “People in general enjoy comfort and dislike change. Whenever there is a controversial post, it takes them out of their safety zone. Even though we have made it very clear that we are not affiliated with the university, some officials, students, parents, etc. have contacted us because they feel that it gives the university a bad image.”
The founders of Fort Hays Confessions are adamant about the positive aspects of the group, despite some naysayers. “There are positives and negatives to everything. This is a way to make it easier to connect and share thoughts with people. It opens up doorways for topics such as bullying and exclusion to be discussed.”
Social media is an aspect of the collegiate experience that can no longer be avoided. Whether posting pictures on Instagram, commenting on another person’s Facebook site, or checking in on Foursquare, students and staff alike are utilizing the web in a variety of ways. Not everyone is as eager to jump on the bandwagon but the way in which different mediums affect a university and town cannot be denied. The students who started Fort Hays Confessions remain positive about the impact of their group. “We enjoy making people laugh as well as question what they are told. We believe that college students should educate themselves to a point where they can disagree with other opinions, but respect the different point of view, and maturely handle situations.”
This group is open for all to view, and while anyone can post, the content is reviewed by the group administrator before it’s distributed. “Our followers will be exposed to many controversial posts while we’re an active page. I’m sure that if we continue on this path, our followers will have read about many unique perspectives, and discussed things that they wouldn’t normally bring up with their friends or peers.”