Compliments, Confessions Create Controversy

Caroline Colwell, Staff Writer

As social media continues to consume our lives, students have found new ways of using the Internet to connect with their peers, whether it is meant to be encouraging, entertaining or scandalous.

A group of anonymous Miramonte students is attempting to counteract social media’s potentially harmful effects with a new Facebook group, Miramonte Compliments, while the founders of Moraga and Orinda Confessions seek to uncover the community’s best-kept secrets under a shield of anonymity.

Run and published by an anonymous source, Miramonte Compliments enables students to submit encouraging messages about their peers, the Miramonte faculty and the school itself.

Miramonte students have expressed mixed emotions about the Miramonte Compliments page. “Although I value the intentions and goals of the group, I’m afraid that it will become just another source of competition as kids worry about how many compliments they get,” junior Noah Goldstein said.

Other Miramonte students have been moved by their peers’ compliments.

“I think it is a great way to circulate positive attitudes around our school,” junior Hannah Li said. “High school has such a prominent stereotype of being a cliquish environment, and this complements page completely contradicts that idea. I love scrolling through anonymous compliments, and they are always so genuine and so kind. It’s a great idea and so far it’s been well executed.”

“Miramonte Compliments shows how supportive the Miramonte community is of one another and what a great place it is to go to high school,” freshman Olivia Chandler said.

The founders of the page drew inspiration from a trend that began as a social experiment at Queen’s University in Canada. Brown, Harvard, Yale, USC and other schools have also created similar projects.

“We decided that it should be brought to Miramonte, and it has blossomed from then on,” one of the site’s founders said.

The trend began in the Lamorinda area with Las Lomas High School and has now spread to other schools in the area, including Campolindo and Acalanes.

Along with compliments pages, “confessions” pages have also sparked a popular following. These pages were made to allow students to share humorous or crazy stories that they would be embarrassed to admit.

“I respect what the compliments page was trying to accomplish, but I feel like it failed in the sense that it has left a lot of people out and has made a lot of people feel bad, myself included,” Moraga Confessions’ anonymous founder said. “Plus I feel like the point of compliments are to be personal. What is the point of an anonymous compliment? I get the impression that a ton of the compliments are from friends to friends and are kind of pointless. There is nothing special to it really. I do respect the intention though.”

Many students feel that the confessions pages are a negative representation of the community.

“It’s an embarrassment that students brag about this stuff. No one wants to know that much,” junior Claire Ramer said.

“I think the fact that each comment is made specifically to draw attention to it, as in each is just made just for the ‘wow factor,’ makes the whole thing seem full of one-upmanship,” junior Matt Moran said. “I think it really contrasts with the compliments which are purely to celebrate others. I’m not a fan of the confessions because it seems that only the attention-grabbers get posted.”

Some students feel the confessions pages emphasize students’ immaturity and are crude ways for people to validate their exploits.

“Besides the few confessions about students admitting that they are gay or that they are struggling with depression, the confessions are primarily about sex, drugs or, well… poop,” Goldstein said.

Some students have cited the confessions and compliments pages as evidence of the difference between Miramonte and Campolindo, sparking inter-school rivalry. Although the pages were not intended to become a source of competition between the schools, this has been one unfortunate consequence that has emerged from the new trends.

“I just want to compliment the entire MHS student population on their maturity in the compliments page,” a student anonymously posted on Miramonte Compliments. “Campo’s (Moraga) Confessions page shows true contrast between us and Campo. Previously I have questioned the kindness of our school but I just want to say thank you, Mats, for being amazingly nice and overall great people.”

Moraga Confessions defended their page and their mission.

“I think this page shows the truth about our community and informs the public about what actually goes down behind the curtains,” Moraga Confessions’ administrator said. “I also feel like it connects everyone, and I’ve been told personally that being able to confess your darkest secrets without being judged really helps clear the conscience.”

There are also supporters of the confessions pages.

“Honestly I think they are hilarious and a good way for allowing people to say what they want to say,” junior Andrew Rosenzweig said. “I understand some people’s misgivings about how it gives schools a bad name, but it’s so funny.”

While the confessions may offend some people, those that are posted online are the most appropriate of the submissions. “Let’s just say that I’ve gotten 600 submissions. If you look at the page only 260 have been posted,” Moraga Confessions’ administrator said.

The founder of Moraga Confessions decided to bring the page to Moraga after stumbling upon the University of California Santa Barbara’s confessions page while studying for finals, and thought it would be a fun source of entertainment for his friends and classmates. Orinda soon created its own confessions page, but it has since been deleted.

Moraga Confessions changed its name from “Campo Confessions” allegedly to avoid reflecting the school negatively, but John Walker, Campolindo Principal, confirmed that the school took no part in the name change. The page’s founder refused to comment on the issue.

Although the Campolindo administration had no role in the pages’ name change, these confessions groups still provoke the issue of social media’s position in schools.

“The school has a responsibility for its name,” Principal Adam Clark said. Clark explained that because the school is unable to protect students from cyber bullying and other online abuse, there is a danger in creating a school-affiliated site online.

“If we create a Facebook group where cyber bullying takes place, the school is put at risk for liability,” Clark explained.

Clark has seen neither Miramonte Compliments nor Orinda Confessions, thus he takes no stance on the groups themselves.