Religion

Tell Your Dirty Secrets To The Cybergods

Ever since the World Wide Web brought the Internet to the masses, the entire game has changed for many industries.  Start-ups no longer need bricks and mortar, sales demographics have gone from regional to worldwide, and you no longer have to get your porn from the back of a magazine rack. 

But now the web is infiltrating the church.  And I don’t mean by making it possible to send donations via PayPal.

In an article titled Forgive Me Father, I’d Rather Go Online, CNN explores the trend of online confessions. Sinners of all denominations can go to websites like www.ivescrewedup.com, www.mysecret.tv, www.dailyconfessions.com, www.camfess.com, www.forgivenet.com, and www.grouphug.com to anonymously acknowledge their transgressions.

So, when God’s blackberry buzzes, he knows it’s something juicy.

But unlike the typical private booth with one person, whose face the confessor can’t even see, these sites are a public forum in which anyone can read the disclosures.

Nonetheless, this medium has proven popular.  30,000 people have posted on www.mysecret.tv, their affronts sorted into categories like “lust”, “cheat”, “steal”, and “beastiality”.  (IP addresses are not tracked in the interest of true anonymity.)

Some examples of guilty admissions include, “I don’t think my boyfriend is cute”, “I can’t stop [shoe shopping]; they’re all so pretty”, and even acts of a criminal nature.  Unfortunately, much of the potential entertainment value is pre-empted by the “no comments” policy of most sites.  Grouphug.com makes an exception, though, by allowing readers to send a “hug” or a “shrug”.

So, online confessions are great for the Christians, but what’s a skeptic to do if he needs to get a little something off his chest?

I mean, we’re heathens! Heretics! Our confessions should put those Christians to shame, right?  (Well…the Pentecostals are pretty wild, but we better at least be able to out-do the Baptists.)

So, if you feel so inclined, pretend we’re your personal cyber goddesses, and use the comments to confess your secrets.

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47 Comments

  1. Now, I don’t mean to be a sacrilegious, self-interested heathen (with the whole questioning the goddess thing) but if we are to confess our secrets to the Flying Spaghetti Skepchick, perhaps you could offer something in return ;)

    The Christian nuttiness gets them an eternal season pass to the Big Party on the Clouds and the Muslims get the whole thing with the virgins (or raisins, depending on the version you read). There is no reason for us Skepchickists (now there’s a mouthful) not to have an overelaborate bribe-for-juicy-story scheme.

    So, my goddess, to quote a wise man: Where’s the beef? What is the gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Skepchick?

  2. I’ve read GroupHug before, and maybe it’s just the skeptic in me, but I’m pretty sure some of those “confessions” are made up. Makes me wonder if anyone does that in real-life confession, too.

    I, by the way, have nothing to confess. Pure as the driven snow, this one. ;)

  3. Jen – good skeptical catch. The article addresses that issue and says that some of the sites monitor and delete posts that are either too graphic or fabricated.

    And heathens who are pure as the driven snow don’t get to partake in the beer volcano. Go do something fun. Quick!

  4. Awesome link, Masala. Thanks!

    I love, “My wife left me via text message.” and “Be kind to your bank teller, because when it comes to revenge, her options are limitless.” (though that’s more of a proverb than a confession – still love it!)

  5. Ok, so now that I’m down with the booze and the strippers (somehow that happens to guys like me… maybe it’s the name or something) my confessions:

    –Re: Frog porn, have you seen the 2003 IgNobel for Biology? “The First Case of Homosexual Necrophilia in the Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (Aves: Anatidae)” The paper has pictures. IT HAS PICTURES. And I read it through… for science, honest!

    — On a less sickening note, I used to watch girlie TV shows (e.g. Gilmore Girls) and really enjoy them. Now I just post semicoherently on skeptical blogs, and watch House reruns (they have an episode titled ‘House vs God’, I mean, you have to watch!)

  6. Gilmore Girls! Great Talking Teller, Jesus.

    That’s where it starts, you know. Before you know it you’re watching Melrose Place reruns. Then, one day while channel surfing, something on E! catches your eye and before you realize what’s happened you’re Tivo-ing Sunset Tan and Tila Tequila.

    Your sentence includes:

    – the writing of “Gilmore Girls suck” 100 times on the blackboard

    and

    – A Mythbusters marathon

    Once you’ve completed your penance, you may return to your normal beer/stripper activities.

  7. I can personally guarantee that confessions in person are often made up.

    P.S. Please don’t tell the church that I’m a Pastafarian, they’ll likely boot me, and take away my sanction to take confessions. You have no idea how entertaining that can be.

  8. Sometimes at work I “proof” jigsaw puzzles even though I don’t need to (technically I *am* a puzzle editor! no one is the wiser!).
    Also I once killed a man in Mexico with nothing but an inch of twine and sheer force of will.

  9. Oh Limadean, Limadean. Proofing puzzles when you don’t need to is nothing to feel ashamed of. Truth be told, everyone does it while they’re alone, even though no one admits it. I think you’re brave for posting it here on our confession forum. Free beer lava for you tonight!

    Your other confession, however, is cause for concern, as it seems to have a supernatural element to it. I’m going to arrange for a series of counseling session with James Randi. But don’t worry, I have confidence that you are fully reformable!

  10. PostSecret is a great site, and ultimately, it doesn’t really matter whether or not the stories are true. It is about how they make you think.

    I still think about the classic one that read “Everyone who knew me before 9/11 thinks that I’m dead.” Few people don’t occasionally wonder what it would be like to completely start over.

  11. I liked the second one on PostSecret, with the couple doin’ it, and the guy’s thinking “I’d rather be playing video games.”

    These days, I take it where I can get it. But there have been times….

  12. Speaking of odd foods from non-U.S. English-speaking countries, I once ate half a jar of Nutella in a sitting. Good book, hazelnut-flavored chocolate, and a spoon — sorry, but I still don’t feel even slightly repentant about it. :P

  13. Bee – you’re a true heathen! Nothing to be repentant about there.

    There’s actually a Nutella chocolate fountain right next to the beer volcano. Grab a spoon and pull up a chair!

  14. I bet next you’re going to tell me it’s in a land flowing with Irish Cream and well-chilled Gentleman Jack whiskey.

    Close. I’m not a beer drinker myself, so I’ve put in a capital request for a River of Rum and a Vodka Vortex. The River of Rum will have boats filled with coke, diet coke, and a variety of fruity beverages, all of which can also be used at the Vodka Vortex, along with tonic, kahlua, and half & half.

    Construction is scheduled for this summer.

  15. I’m not repentant about loving the Gilmore Girls – hanging out for season 7 to finally come out on DVD in April!

    I will confess and repent regarding Melrose Place though. My only defense is I was in high school so I was young and foolish.

    The vodka vortex sounds like my cup of tea but for Bee I think the Irish Cream has to be bubbling up from a pretty little mountain spring. Just seems right somehow.

  16. Cabernet, I’ve submitted a change order for the Lime Wedge Lagoon, which will also include other amenities such as orange slices, cherries, tiny swords, and umbrellas.

    Rystefn, You already signed the petition with your confession about making up confessions. Thanks for doing your part!

  17. I don’t comment on a lot of blogs, including Skepchick, because I see a lot of comments already posted and know mine will never be read or cared about.

    You should make an exception for Skepchick. There’s a lot of love in this community – all comments are read, some are responded to, and some even have entire posts dedicated to them.

    And, if not, there’s always the beer volcano.

  18. “Confession: I don’t comment on a lot of blogs, including Skepchick, because I see a lot of comments already posted and know mine will never be read or cared about.”

    Lurking is a perfectly good thing to do in any online environment. That said, it is a mistake to assume that a comment has to be replied to for it to contribute. You just can’t know what people are thinking when they read it, and I find that actually has a sort of appeal.

  19. confession.
    i’m a skeptic, but i think there is a limit to how much “truth” i can handle.

    so, i’m asking the cyber goddesses how much self deception is a skeptic allowed?

    For example: according to psychiatrists Gur & Sackeim’s Self Deception Questionnaire [1979] i’m deceiving myself if i don’t say yes to the following questions:

    is it important to you that other people think highly of you?
    have you ever doubted your sexual adequacy?
    have you ever enjoyed your bowel movements?
    have you ever wanted to rape or be raped by someone?
    have you ever thought of committing suicide in order to get back at someone?

    the full questionnaire is here:
    http://www.wnyc.org/files/radiolab/Self_Deception_Questionnaire.pdf

    enjoy.

  20. Rick,

    I think your questionnaire is very interesting.

    As you may or may not know, both of my parents are psychologists (different specialties), and having been exposed to a massive volume of discussion growing up, I find all matters of the psyche fascinating.

    Earlier today, I was reading a piece on cognitive dissonance, the concept that holding two conflicting thoughts (e.g. “Smoking is unhealthy” and “I just smoked a pack of cigarettes”) causes uneasiness until the person resolves it by either changing their behavior or rationalizing it. The closer the thought or behavior comes to threatening the way a person sees himself (or an idea that helps them explain their life), the greater the uneasiness.

    The aim of the article was to explain why people cling to beliefs despite solid information showing that they are false, and suggests that people hesitate to admit they’re wrong because it threatens their image of themselves as smart/competent, among other deeper, more complex (and individualized) reasons.

    And it makes special mention that these rationalizations involve lying to one’s self in order to preserve the self-image.

    Anyway, my point is that your questionnaire likely causes unease for that reason. Many of the questions asked are of the nature that a person might even be uncomfortable answering inside their head because the answer might threaten their self-image.

    That said, I couldn’t say I agree that every question is yes for every person. But I think it’s interesting to ponder what types of questions might make each of us feel uncomfortable within ourselves, even apart from the scrutiny of others.

    So thanks for bringing it up. Very interesting.

  21. Stacey,

    i like this confession thing…

    what would you say are the beliefs that we, as skeptics, cling to despite solid information that they are false?

    for example, i believe that as skeptics…

    – we are no more self-aware than the average person. we’re not so good at identifying and questioning the beliefs we hold about ourselves. we give ourselves credit for our good actions, but we blame our situations for our failures. we too claim “Mistakes Were Made (but not by me.)” whether skeptical, or not we all justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts.

    -we often hold ‘implicit’ theories for why non-skeptics act as they do. we forget that we were once ignorant of the appropriate scientific methods we now trust. we had to learn our naturalistic world view. we weren’t born with it.

    -A lot (but not all) skeptics would rather be “right” than bring people into skepticism. why do i think this? if we really wanted to convert non-skeptics we would need to figure out which methods convince people and which don’t. this is a solvable problem! it’s a scientific problem! this is what we do. so how can a bunch of science-loving skeptics not have an answer to this question?

    ….i could be wrong. after all, i’m just your average skeptic :)

  22. Rick,

    Trying to trick me into criticizing the skeptics, eh? Smoooth.

    Well, skeptics or not, we are all human beings, and fallible.

    Not to mention it’s not possible to be fully knowledgeable on every subject.

    So certainly there are subjects for everyone, skeptics included, that we are either ignorant or sensitive about.

    I’ll refrain from venturing a guess at what those subjects might be. :)

    In response to your guesses, I would say that I believe you are right in some cases, but not in all.

    And I would also say that I think one of the redeeming qualities of the skeptics I know is their desire for intellectual honesty and understanding of the world. Even if we don’t completely get there, the desire is admirable.

    Don’t you think?

  23. Stacey,

    as i see it, the point of confession is to admit those things that conflict with how we self identify.

    for me it’s admitting that i can’t seem to think straight about determinism.

    – i don’t believe in (contra-causal) free will. i believe that the the research conclusively proves we don’t have that type of free will.

    -i also accept that i am fully determined to be who i am, by my environment and genetics.

    -further, the choices i make are real choices. i am (rightfully so) personally responsible for my actions.
    moral responsibility is possible in a deterministic universe.

    and yet i still hesitate to embrace determinism as fully as i do evolution. why? both follow from accepting a fully naturalistic worldview.

  24. Rick,

    To be honest, this is probably my true confession as well. I’ve written about free will quite a bit because it is something I struggle with personally. Without a measure of free will, there is no pride to be taken in who you are, what you’ve accomplished, or how you choose to handle hardships. There’s no valid reason to like or dislike anyone, including yourself. And there’s no fair consequence for egregious acts.

    Furthermore, I think sometimes that determinists use determinism as a reason NOT to do anything about their bad behavior. Now, whether the idea of determinism is an environmental factor causing this sort of apathy, or if the person is consciously choosing to use it as an excuse to be an ass, I don’t know.

    I know that humans do have the capacity to do good, to love, and accept each other, and I don’t like people using determinism (or even evolutionary studies) as an excuse to act in a selfish and uncaring way. And I do my best to understand the evidence and still try to be kind and compassionate myself.

    But I also understand that the evidence says that both those of a kind nature and those who choose to be asses make those choices based on genetics and environmental factors, and I wouldn’t argue otherwise.

    Unless I am making a confession, in which I would be required to share my actual feelings about it.

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