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(This story was originally published in print on Feb. 20, 2020).
ANONYMITY ENCOURAGES UNITY
“Send us your juiciest confessions. Shared anonymously.”
Instagram pages such as @byeolaconfessions and @biiola_tea have had a major impact on the student culture at Biola University. These social media pages offer an outlet for students to confess their secrets and share their personal opinions with the world—all while remaining hidden behind the mask of anonymity. There is a wide variety of content on these pages, ranging from innocent crushes to disagreements with university policies. @byeolaconfessions has nearly 3,000 followers on its page and @biiola_tea has just over 2,000 followers—which means their influence reaches far and wide.
These anonymous social media pages create an entertaining and united place for students at Biola to be honest without the fear of being exposed. They also reach a mass of students searching for tea and gossip. Students will often share with their fellow students their thoughts on events around the university.
Read more “Anonymous social media fosters non-confrontation.”
THEY ENTERTAIN US
When I scroll through some of @byeolaconfessions’s content, I can’t help but smile and chuckle at some of the posts. Often times, they can be humorous and entertaining. Reading about what students are doing, who they have a crush on or cringing around PDA in the residence hall lobby can be a source of pure entertainment. Sometimes, the curators will publish their own humorous content—including memes about various dorms.
These jokes bring a smile to many faces. Many times, I have heard students talking about what they saw on these pages and sharing a laugh with their friends.
Anonymity can bring out humor, since making jokes is sometimes a social risk. Instead of succumbing to fear, people feel empowered to make jokes and post a variety of content which creates an entertaining environment.
THEY MAKE US TRANSPARENT
Because they’re anonymous, these social media pages allow the student body to share content that most people would not reveal if it were attached to their names. When this happens, we can see deeper into people’s behaviors, revealing a part of them that they usually do not share. This creates a transparent and honest community, even if sometimes students submit inappropriate content.
Many posts reveal students confusion and dislike with the Biola “dating culture” and “ring by spring” mentality. Students often share feelings of loneliness as well, opening up in a way they typically would not.
THEY UNITE US
When students send in posts sharing their personal opinion on conferences, chapels, speakers and more, they often spark conversations that need to happen. During the Torrey Conference last fall semester, many submissions were made about the diverse forms of worship—raising hands, dancing or just standing still. This prompted an important discussion among the student body. One morning during a conference session, two worship leaders shared their personal methods of worship and explained how it doesn’t matter how we worship God, but rather how our hearts are postured. I believe this explanation was partially driven by the discussion cultivated through anonymous social media pages on Instagram.
Students can be united in these situations. Students share their personal likes and dislikes as they relate to topics around campus and we often relate to these struggles, creating a sense of community and unity.
I personally love reading when students submit content that supports one another. When people encourage others to be bold, be wise and take a chance, it unites the student body. Sometimes people will submit content encouraging their friends to get proper sleep, maintain good grades or provide relationship advice. The anonymity aspect brings a sense of united community—there is something powerfully encouraging about hearing that classmates you don’t know will support you and pray for you.
People often give these anonymous social media pages a hard time, blaming them for creating division among the Biola community or encouraging bad behavior. I disagree—these pages are a source of entertainment, unity and transparency. This is an opportunity to see inside the hearts of many students, so we can come alongside them, support them and cheer them on.