Lies are the backbone of society, according to Stanford Confessions. We lie about our farts, we lie about the extent to which we still love our high school sweethearts, and we lie about our mental health.
The Stanford “duck syndrome” is a metaphor for one lie many of us live every day.
1341: I wish my best friend would just ask me: “how are you, really?” Because I’m about to fall apart.
By removing our name from our words online, we no longer have to worry about reputation, judgments, and repercussion of our words. In a way, anonymity briefly removes us from the constraints of society.
What is society if not reputation and rapport with others? As Rousseau explains, we are naturally led by a “universal desire for reputation, honours and promotion, which devours us all…” (A Discourse on Inequality). To Rousseau, reputation was the root of societal evil.
Is that true for Stanford students?
There is an obvious connection between the anonymity of Stanford Confessions and the openness and sharing that goes on. People don’t feel comfortable being honest in their everyday lives, and this rare chance to be honest is only possible through anonymity.
612: I secretly judge people who use more than one exclamation point. This isn’t middle school.
786: Sometimes I fart in large crowds, or at parties, and then blame it on other people.
Why is it not socially acceptable to own up to our farts? Unfortunately, our society has yet to rid itself completely of Victorian Era constraints that render discussion of sex, nudity, and bodily functions taboo.
693: I’m tired of feeling judged for wearing lipstick to class and around campus. I’m doing it for me. Not for you.
111: I hate when people are too self-conscious to walk from their room to the bathroom and back in a towel when they shower. We’re all people. We all have bodies. You’re not going to drop your towel and if you do I’m not going to judge. If it were socially acceptable, I’d walk to and from the shower naked. Until then, or until I live in Synergy, I’ll wear only my towel – and you should too.
These excerpts are characterized by exhaustion and frustration. Although society is still stuck in the past, Stanford students are ready for a change. While Stanford Confessions shows us how much we hide from each other, it might also be the best example of how similar we are. Online, Stanford students seem to share a desire to modernize the antiquated constraints imposed by history.
This desire is part of what makes the Farm a community. The Stanford Confessions page is classified on Facebook as a community, and together, as such, we are desperate to share the very emotions that society demands us to hide.
Some people have made the leap forward, from hiding behind screens of habitual lies to openness, honesty, and ownership. Many more of us are trying, as Stanford Confessions shows.
Stanford Confessions do not merely advocate from afar, from online, with wishes and “should’s”. Many confessions urge awareness days, so the community can confront issues head on.
829: I’m very disappointed that Stanford didn’t really do anything for National Eating Disorders Awareness week (this past week). It’s a serious problem, especially in a place with such prevalent perfectionism and duck syndrome. More people suffer than meets the eye.
At Stanford, social constraints preventing us from openly discussing body image problems, mental illness, sexuality, and love are on their way out. We are ready to be honest, from the big issues to the small issues.
701: Where are all the thick girls at? I’m done looking at these girls afraid to eat
823: Something I don’t understand: why is it, when rejecting people, you’re allowed to say things like “It’s not you–it’s me” or “We’re such good friends”? All my friends say it’s because they’re trying to be polite, but to me, I can’t understand what’s polite about it if everyone is supposed to know that stuff like that is the equivalent of “hell no.” Why not just be honest and say, “I’m sorry, but I’m not interested?”
Stanford Confessions offers a unique opportunity to challenge the social constructs that prohibit true honesty from being a part of culture on the Farm.
Our community at Stanford would grow stronger if we could move past many of the constructs we bring with us from our past. Stanford Confessions prove that we have had enough of habitually restraining ourselves. We are well on our way to a bright future, in spirit if not yet in practice.