GC Confession: Helpful or Hurtful?
Written by Jonathan Barker | Media by Thomas Hajny
Have you ever felt the need to anonymously share something that has been bothering you? In April of 2013, the GC Confessions Facebook page was created for any student or member of the community to be honest with their peers. This could be something as minor as revealing a “campus crush” or as significant as disclosing feelings of depression as a call for help. Of course, with free speech the Internet brings, it became abused. Complaints that GC Confessions became a source of gossip and cyber bullying led to its deactivation in May 2014 before a new page was created in late August 2014.
I spoke with the original creator of GC Confessions (who wishes to remain anonymous) about why she created the page. “I got the idea from other schools and saw how it unified their community. Greenville College always claims to have such a community, but I didn’t feel like I belonged. I didn’t quite fit in and I wanted to create a place where we could all get a chance to hear each other out and create a real community, even if it was secret. It was refreshing to see members of the GC community take a stand and offer support to anonymous posters.”
She continued: “People would put up posts about being alone or depressed and people would rally behind them and show them that they have support. In that sense, it created community and helped people feel welcome here. On the opposite end, people would still undermine it by bullying or making light of serious situations.” Often times, the page had a role in dividing people. Several debates on topics such as homosexuality, chapel attendance, and the lifestyle statement spiraled out of control and quickly became personal. Some argue that making light out of serious topics comes with the territory and is necessary in certain situations. Some of the comments that were perceived as offensive were merely made with the pure intention of comic relief. The moderator of GC Confessions would censor a post if she felt it had intention to hurt someone. However, she did not particularly like using censorship.
The founder of the page expressed the lack of stress now that she no longer has control over the page. She began to receive the blame for the negativity on the page, as if it were all her fault. Eventually the page was reported after two students were named in a jesting post. GC Confessions was reported to Facebook as “not a real person” and was shut down.
So what should we do, as a student body and as Christians? As a community, should we let the bad outweigh the good? Should we allow ourselves to become offended? I believe not. As Christians, we are quick to claim that we are being persecuted when our freedoms are limited in order to prevent offending others’ beliefs. On the opposite spectrum, we should not be offended or shocked by another’s lack of beliefs (even in the Greenville College bubble). When these beliefs are expressed through a medium such as the Internet, where freedom of speech rules, being offended becomes a waste of time and helps no one. By becoming offended, you are only “feeding the trolls” and continuing the divide within the community. GC Confessions may have produced a lot of negativity but responding to negativity with more bitterness isn’t helping. Instead, you could attempt to have an actual civil debate, instead of attacking someone else’s beliefs. In the end, there comes a point when it’s necessary to put down the keyboard and go take action if you wish to make a difference.
Today, GC Confessions is back up and running. The new administrator of the page claimed that he brought it back simply because he wanted it to be available again and plenty of people are glad that GC Confessions is back. If nothing else, GC Confessions allows an outlet to anonymously get something off your chest. Maybe the real GC community isn’t located in a URL on your laptop.