Many 'like' to confess online

SINGAPORE - A Singapore nurse feeling tired and burnt out takes to her keyboard and writes: "I'm working in one of the community hospitals. I feel so tired, groggy and, worst, I have no time for my kids and family. I wanted to resign..."

Elsewhere, a cheeky soldier types: "Pretending to help my friend fold his smart 4 properly when in fact I was secretly slotting sweet wrapper inside his sleeve."

Anonymous confessions on Facebook - ostensibly posted by real people and uploaded by page administrators - are all the rage here now.

Since "Confession" pages on the social media network set up for local undergraduates to spill campus secrets hit the headlines last month, similar ones dedicated to Singaporeans from all walks of life have popped up.

From PAP Confessions (for things related to the People's Action Party) to Singapore Nurses Confessions (nurses support group) to Gay SG Confessions (for "gay, bi, lesbian, straight, transgendered and those who have yet to make up their minds", according to its description), these build a community of like-minded people who pour out their frustrations and offer moral support.

SundayLife! found at least 60 confessions pages, including those for schools and tertiary institutions.

The pages have a large following, judging from the high number of "likes" - a way for individuals to indicate interest in a Facebook page. They are often not affiliated to the organisations they are named after.

SAF Confessions, for example, offers stories and confessions related to the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), but is not affiliated with the Ministry of Defence or SAF.

Set up on Feb 5 this year, according to its Facebook timeline, it has more than 23,000 "likes".

Support for the tertiary sites also continues to grow - the almost two-month-old NUS Confessions has more than 19,400 "likes", up from about 12,000 early last month.

SundayLife! contacted the administrators of seven confessions pages, who cited various reasons for launching the sites.

Some say they did it to see what "fun and interesting" things people would confess. But most say it provides a platform for members of their community to speak freely.

The administrator of the CHC Confessions page, for members and visitors of City Harvest Church, declined to be named, but told SundayLife! in a Facebook message that the page "helps to give power to the people" so they can express themselves without being judged. The month-old page has about 200 "likes".

The administrator of Gay SG Confessions, an account director in an advertising firm in his 30s who wanted to be known only as GC, says the page allows people to "share what they aren't comfortable to voice to another person, on- or offline, yet wish to".

The confessions on the page, which has been "liked" by 2,206 people, include coming-out stories, accounts of rejection or confessions about being insecure about one's sexuality or appearance.

People are also turning to generic groups such as Singaporean Confessions or Singapore Confessions to pour out their deep, dark secrets.

Here, the posts include complaints about public transport or working with foreigners in Singapore. Some confessions are of a more risque nature, such as having sex with a co-worker.

Mr Gui Kai Chong, an instructor at the department of Communications and New Media at the National University of Singapore (NUS), says these virtual spaces are "safe havens" for individuals to communicate their thoughts, without revealing their identities.

Furthermore, he notes that Facebook "brings together people who care about similar issues", thus forging a community and making the confession more "meaningful" for those contributing and reading it.

The Singapore Nurses Confessions page is a good example of how the page is meaningful for a niche community. Besides confessions from nurses who feel burnt out, it has inspiring accounts of nurses who have excelled.

As for those reading the pages, associate professor Paulin Straughan, deputy head of the department of Sociology at NUS, says they are interested to read "juicy news" and revelations. Many also hope to "gain insights" into a community, especially if they belong to that group, she adds.

But for reader Sheena Tan, 24, reading the NUS Confessions Facebook Page brings her back to her university days.

The communications and new media graduate, who is now an account manager, says she enjoys reading about "funny" teachers who are still in the school or even a food stall which is still there.

"I'm interested because it brings back memories," she says.

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