What’s Your Secret?

Summit’s anonymous confessions page has the right idea, wrong platform


Lindsey Pease, Staff Writer

The hyperlink in @summithigh_confessions’ Instagram bio poses a simple question: what’s your secret?

“Gum be giving me headaches,” said one respondent.

“I’ll go on a date with blond Jesus,” said another respondent.

“I f*cking want to die,” said yet another.

Submissions are up to hundreds of nameless students, and, protected under the guise of anonymity, have spiraled out of control.

Initially harmless, the account started in late 2021 as a copycat of Bend High’s @bendseniorhighconfessions page and has since accumulated well over 1,000 posted revelations. Most of these range from debates on Elon Musk’s ethnicity to an alarming number of squirrel haters to critiques on Summit itself, but the platform has become an outlet for many. Triggering topics like self-harm, assault and suicide crowd the page in the form of rants, raves and unabashed callouts. The anonymity of the confessions page gives Summit students something they crave—an outlet and an audience, one seemingly with no consequence. Here is the ability to say anything, without a name attached and for hundreds to see. But this security of being heard without seen becomes dangerously addictive for students craving catharsis.

“This account is like a drug,” one confession admitted within a four-slide rant. “I’m all over the place.”

It didn’t take long for inappropriate comments on teacher’s bodies and malicious attacks on other students to pop up alongside other troubling posts. Then, on April 26, a school-wide message from Summit principal Michael McDonald crowded students’ Canvas dashboards.

“Are you a spectator or contributor to the Summit Confessions Page on Instagram?” asked McDonald in the final bullet point of his end-of-year announcement. “Please be the better person and boycott this kind of anonymous harassment. We can do better than this.”

The account’s anonymous moderator was entertained by McDonald’s message.

“To be honest, I thought it was really funny,” they said. “All Mr. McDonald hears about is the harassment from the page and nothing else. So you can see why he says that. But it also made me realize that I’m getting people to start conversations about and question things that aren’t right.”

While the account has brought up assault, poor mental health, and other serious issues at Summit, it’s difficult to defend the platform’s position and impact when inciting change is not, and never has been, its strict focus.

The general consensus among students is that the page isn’t meant to be taken so seriously. Confessions are well-suited to mention in passing and chat about for a minute, then move on. The confessions account provides space to air out Summit’s issues without having to deal with them fully. No one submitting and complaining is doing so with the intention to incite change. If they were searching for genuine solutions, they wouldn’t turn to an anonymous Instagram forum. 

“I would love to know why that person thinks that this is productive,” McDonald said. “I’m not sure what productive conversations are coming out by posting things that are hurtful and individualized.”

The confessions account moderator, the one student at the head of this “anonymous harassment,” collects and curates each submission themselves. Their identity is largely unknown, and while seemingly unafraid of the consequences should they be found out, the owner of the account has recently turned the page private in an attempt to protect students and their problematic confessions.

“I made the account private like two or three months ago,” said the confessions account moderator. “My friend, who also runs the Mountain View page, told me to make it private because the school couldn’t see who likes the posts or what the posts are about, and so the admin can’t get people in trouble for it.”

Without access to the now-private confessions account, administrators who receive complaints and concerns about the anonymous postings find that their hands are somewhat tied. 

“We don’t have much control over what goes on,” McDonald said. “Or any control, actually.”

Confessions attack students and teachers alike, and the moderator is the only person with access to thousands upon thousands of these uncensored call-outs. In a dangerous game of unknowns, of serious allegations and questions of libel, this is too much power for any one teenager to yield.

“Some confessions have definitely changed my opinions of people,” the confessions account moderator said. “But I also have to keep in mind that they could literally be made up.”

After McDonald’s announcement, the confessions account received an influx of follow requests and submissions, many of which were direct responses to the principal’s springtime message.

“Mr. McDonald is right, nothing on this page has actually done anything good,” read one anonymous confession posted a day after the announcement. “Everyone is just complaining about something without providing solutions.”