@stuy.crunchy: Hiding Behind a Screen

An investigation into the harmful consequences of confessions accounts like @Stuy.Crunchy, which posted gossip and criticism targeting specific students.

Reading Time: 6 minutes

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By Veronika Duvanova

Each graduating class at Stuyvesant has had its fair share of experiences with the infamous confessions accounts. Typically found on Instagram and Facebook, these accounts advertise links to anonymous Google Forms that students can use to share anecdotes, gossip, and rumors. Responses are posted by anonymous confessions account administrators and spark a wide array of reactions from the student body. In theory, confessions accounts could provide opportunities to build online communities, allowing students to connect with one another outside the classroom. However, the most immediate effects of confessions accounts harm peer relationships: when posts cannot be traced back to the source, students disseminate rude and hateful messages without facing consequences. One prominent confessions account on Instagram called @stuy.crunchy was created during the summer of 2023. At its peak, @stuy.crunchy had upwards of 700 followers. The account was deactivated on November 10, yet the words it spread continue to impact peer relationships and student mental health.

One sophomore was subjected to blatant mischaracterization in an @stuy.crunchy confessions post. “I was mentioned in the confession pages as being overly obsessive and clingy about a guy,” Anonymous Sophomore A wrote in an e-mail interview. “I didn’t even like [him] as a friend (he used to sexualize me back then), but there were a lot of comments criticizing me. They body-shamed and made fun of my appearance as well,” Sophomore A admitted. The mental and emotional harm caused by confessions accounts is not limited to the posts themselves—hateful language extends into the comment sections. This accusatory confession highlights how easy it is to solicit backlash and hate from the student body.

Often, confessions come from an excess of emotion as opposed to a place of reason. “I did make comments about this person that were unsubstantiated and just flat-out rude. I think at the time I was just very upset and wanted to express it under a veil of anonymity,” Anonymous Freshman A admitted in an e-mail interview. The posting of submissions like these normalize hate speech, leading students to express similarly harmful sentiments in public Instagram comments. Saying uncensored, discriminatory language without any anonymity can result in serious stains on one’s digital footprint. 

Additionally, the popularity of confessions accounts can cause the posts’ repercussions to extend into students’ offline lives. “I had to explain what happened to me every time people asked me about the lies that [StuyCrunchy] posted, and it was one of my worst memories in Stuyvesant,” Sophomore A explained.  

It makes sense that students targeted in critical posts would be uncomfortable. However, posts intended to be “positive” can also engender harmful emotions. Anonymous Sophomore B reflected on being discussed in an @stuy.crunchy post:  “It started with just this confession [saying] “Oh, she’s such a good friend,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, what a nice thing to say,’” Sophomore B said. However, the contents of the post soon evolved from flattering to alarming. “People were like, ‘There’s this girl in my class. She’s so pretty.’ [...] It got to a point where someone was describing how I got home, which was a little odd. The original [posts] I kind of laughed off, but once it got to the point where someone was literally saying what train I took, I was honestly very freaked out,” Sophomore B recounted. Even though confessions accounts may have good intentions in posting complimentary confessions, sharing a student’s name and other personal information on a platform visible to anyone with internet access endangers their privacy and safety.

Though anonymity is engrained in confessions account posts, many students feel they need to conceal their identity even further in their submissions. “I was also fairly confident that I had masked my typing talking style well and that nobody would know it was me,” Anonymous Freshman A described.  

On the receiving end of these confessions, students like Sophomore B have been unable to identify the person who exposed their personal information. “I’m under the impression that it’s someone random just because I don’t think anyone I know closely would do that to me,” Sophomore B added. The unease and distrust that brew between confessions submitters and their subjects harm peer relationships. 

Also complicit in the detrimental effects of confessions pages are the administrators of the accounts, who decide which submissions to post and when to post them. “I talked to [an administrator of a confessions account], and they said they didn’t care [about the negative impacts they cause] and that they were just going to keep posting that stuff,” Anonymous Freshman B recounted. “I don’t think [confessions accounts] can be made better.” Confessions account administrators could take the time to carefully filter through the content they post to ensure that nothing damaging or invasive is shared, but they do not do so.

The administrators of @stuy.crunchy did not try to conceal or censor any type of personal information contained in their posts. “I know a lot of people that genuinely just did not want their name to be out there.” Sophomore B stated. “I think that there were a lot of posts that they should have censored the name [...] because I think there was a lot of private information that people started sharing on StuyCrunchy, and I know a few people who were genuinely really upset because a lot of things that they held personally to themselves were put on StuyCrunchy, and then they didn’t clear out those names,” Sophomore B recounted.

In some confessions posts, first and last names were blurred out from the published submission. “They cleared out names [subjected to] outwardly negative comments. But […] it didn’t solve anything,” Sophomore B stated. “A lot of the times, [...] just based on the information they were sharing, you could tell who [the posts were referring to].”

Along with sharing personal information, the administrators of @stuy.crunchy often tagged the user’s profile in the post. By tagging the targeted person’s account, administrators revealed their full names and (often) their grades, exacerbating the danger the submissions themselves posed.

Guidance counselor Paul Goldsman expressed that the ongoing trend of confessions pages reflects the heightened digitization affecting Stuyvesant’s newest generation of students.  “[Confessions accounts] certainly weren’t normal [in the past]. But now with social media's impact and influence continuing to rise, it’s fair to say that some students view it as the new normal,” Goldsman reflected. “Those students that typically would not engage in this feel left behind and so therefore, they also just want to be a part of things.” Usually, the common phenomenon of “fear of missing out” harms only the individual that experiences it; @stuy.crunchy served as an outlet to inflict this pain on other people as well.

                 Some students may want to feel more included socially, causing them to participate in confessions accounts. Peer pressure and the normalization of criticizing others online only fuel such motivations. “I had also seen others make similar comments about this specific person on the confession page, so I wasn’t worried that [my comment] would be received poorly,” Anonymous Freshman A said about one of their submissions. 

Goldsman believes that the blame ultimately falls on social media platforms and their failure to emphasize internet safety. “Social media companies are not doing enough to protect young people,” Goldsman expressed.

Students and social media outlets both play a significant role in perpetuating the damaging effects of confessions accounts like @stuy.crunchy. Students are encouraged to use the guidance office as a resource if they need additional support. “I think one great thing about our [guidance] department is that we’re very seasoned with staff. We’re all experienced. We’ve heard pretty much anything,” Goldsman explained. “I believe we’re great resources for students, especially when it comes to social media, because oftentimes, students might feel alone. And they might be embarrassed to admit something to their friend or peer. In the guidance office, it’s a safe space.”

The immense power held by social media pages allows students to single out classmates on the internet with the click of a button, souring relationships and fostering an uncomfortable social environment. Confessions accounts may try to justify their existence behind a false facade of positive community building, but in reality, they allow Stuyvesant students to degrade their peers from behind a screen.