By Audrey Gordon, Grade 12, Journalism Student
The social aspect of high school may be one of the most important. Students learn to cooperate with peers and form lifelong friendships. But what happens when in-person interaction is stripped from students and they are forced to remain isolated in their homes? Do students take sufficient advantage of the internet and carve out spaces for interaction?
At the High School of American Studies, students have taken to the internet to interact with their peers. Some of these spaces are the various HSAS Confessions pages on Instagram. The upperclassmen of HSAS have created a space where students can send “tells,” or anonymous tidbits about gossip, political opinions, their classes, or their feelings.
The seniors have had three different confessions pages over the course of the past year. The first, titled ogseniorconfessions, failed as a confessions page and evolved into a matchmaking platform, which then also failed.
George Koral, a senior, said, “We’ve all known each other for four years, it’s too late for blind dates.” The second senior page was uncensored. Every “tell” that was sent in was posted, including personal attacks and “jokes” that targeted and offended certain racial minority groups. The page was shut down by the admin when a “tell” claimed that they had reported the account to Mr. Weiss and the admin would face disciplinary action.
Mrs. Amanda Bollati, a teacher and former student at HSAS, said that the school had MySpace and Facebook during her matriculation and does not think it is the school’s place to censor social media. “I understand that social media is a place where kids express themselves. As long as it is not to the detriment of one's classmates or the school community, I don't think the school would need to intervene,” she said.
The current senior confessions page is alive and well, posting multiple times a day and censoring material that they deem offensive or derogatory.
Their Instagram bio, in contrast with the defunct page, reads “we don’t post negative tells.” The anonymous admin, a senior, said, “I feel like it gives a platform for seniors to communicate especially in a time where people can’t really see their friends as much. Anyone is welcomed to share their thoughts and it’s generally a positive environment here.”
Image Created by Audrey Gordon, Grade 12
HSAS students created Instagram confession pages to interact with their peers online.
While the senior page is thriving, it seems like not everyone has a positive impression of confession pages.
Becca Boroda, a junior, said of the juniors’ confession page, “I hate the confessions page because it exposes people's secrets. People treat it like a journal but it’s not a journal because you’re posting something for 100 other people to see and there are repercussions for that.”
Sasha Hamel, a freshman, agreed with Boroda’s statement. “I feel like the confession pages can get [kind of] toxic,” she said. Sasha admits that her point of view is purely based on what she has seen at other schools, not first-hand. The freshmen do not have a confessions page, and most of them have never met each other in person.
For underclassmen who have not known each other for as long, it can be isolating to not have a platform for them to communicate, anonymous or not.
Sophomore Grade Representative Manha Basher confessed, “I don’t really have contact with everyone in the grade.”