Ty Ger, the sole administrator of the Tiger Confessions Facebook page, started the page on Oct. 30 because they wanted to compliment someone anonymously. Since then, the culture of the page has changed significantly. Anonymous compliments about fellow Princetonians morphed into more serious confessions on topics such as eating disorders, mental health, and family problems.
Confessions are submitted through an anonymous Google form. From there, Ty Ger numbers and posts confessions to the page.
Ty Ger, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Daily Princetonian that daily submissions have increased from about 10 to about 70 since the start of winter break. The page currently has over 2,500 members.
Last Thursday, Ty Ger spoke with the ‘Prince’ about how the page’s current culture has changed dramatically from its original purpose.
The Daily Princetonian: In your words, what is Tiger Confessions?
Ty Ger: It’s a forum where students who have something on their mind can get something off their mind. Something that they’ve been thinking about, that they either don’t feel comfortable talking about in person or that they just want other opinions on.
DP: Who started the page and when?
TG: I started it earlier this semester very, very impulsively because I actually had this desire to compliment someone anonymously. I was looking for the previous Tiger Admirers page, and that one wasn’t active anymore. I was frustrated that the admin of that page just left without doing anything, so I wanted to take matters into my own hands and create a new page.
DP: What was the intended purpose of Tiger Confessions?
TG: It initially started out as just an admirers page, so it was specifically for people to compliment people on campus.
DP: Do you think the page is still fulfilling that purpose?
TG: It’s really evolved from that. I think it has been shifting toward what people want to talk about. But it really wasn’t something that I was expecting, so it’s definitely interesting how that kind of happened naturally without any prompting.
DP: Many of the confessions recently have touched on particularly serious issues, such as issues of racism, sexual abuse, and mental health. Do you feel like Tiger Confessions is the right place for students to voice those experiences?
TG: That’s something that I’ve had to be much more careful of recently. Sometimes, I think there are a few confessions that voice a very deep hopelessness. Some of them are very detailed, and I’m not sure if I should post them. But I also feel like I have an obligation to post them. Because, the last thing you want for someone who submits something like that is to feel like they’re just talking to no one and that their problems are being ignored. So I have been pretty liberal with what I’ve been posting. I feel like there’s some kind of responsibility on my part, and on the part of everyone in the page, to — I don’t know — try to help these people. But on the other hand, I feel like when you crowdsource advice, it’s maybe not the best way to get help. So that is a problem that I do see emerging.
DP: Do you think that the current community or environment that’s being fostered on the page is achieving the goals of the page?
TG: I’m actually not quite sure. This is definitely much different than what I was imagining when I started the page. I want to just be the person that posts the submissions and not really try to influence the environment of the page too much. But there is part of me that isn’t really a fan of some of the stuff going onto the page. On some issues, there almost seems to be a kind of echo chamber where popular ideas will get so many positive reactions and up votes, but unpopular ones might be immediately shut down. As an admin, I feel like I don’t have much control over that.
DP: What is something you, as an admin, would like to change about the current environment on the page?
TG: I feel like there’s been a pattern of, maybe, people who haven’t experienced a serious problem like depression or an eating disorder trying to give advice on that topic which, I feel like — I mean, it’s not malicious or anything — is just something that the page would be better off without.
Also, it is very hard for me to moderate political arguments. So that’s been hard, because people have complained about feeling censored or feeling like they aren’t able to say what they want to.
DP: It seems like the activity on the page has really increased since the start of winter break. How many confessions would you say that you receive per day?
TG: It probably averages to be around 70 right now. It’s really funny because before the break, the average was closer to 10.
DP: Why do you think the activity on the page has increased so much since the start of break?
TG: There do seem to be a lot of posts about family problems, so maybe that’s something that people are thinking about when they’re home. I was really surprised. I actually remember before the break started, I thought the page would probably die because I assumed people think about Princeton less when they’re off campus.
I think there was also one day where a lot more confession-type posts were submitted, as opposed to just compliments, and I think I also changed the name of the group from Tiger Admirers to Tiger Confessions during the break, and I think that has definitely caused a spike in the number of posts.
DP: Do you moderate the submissions at all?
TG: I do. There are a few things I filter out. Some posts, I don’t think they’re very relevant to the page. I don’t post them because they’re extremely vague or not really contributing anything, in my opinion. There are also a lot that I feel would make people uncomfortable. Like, there have been a few that say something like, “Oh, I hope this person and their significant other break up because I really like one of the people in that relationship.” I don’t post things like that. There have also just been ones that are clearly troll posts or trying to start a discussion that won’t be productive, so I haven’t been posting those, too. But I would say that I post the majority of things that are submitted.
DP: Do you monitor comments on posts at all?
TG: There have been two specific instances where I’ve stepped in and deleted comments, and those were all prompted by someone messaging me and explaining why they thought the comment was problematic. And in both of those cases, after I deleted the comment, the original commenter also messaged me and was like, “Why did you delete my comment? This isn’t fair.” So that’s just been something that’s hard to balance, kind of satisfying both parties. But I think, as an admin, I definitely want to emphasize respect and a place where people feel comfortable saying what they think.The main thing is balancing that with making sure that we aren’t harming others.
DP: Have you ever posted your own confession on the page?
TG: I have. I’ll leave it to readers to try to find which ones were me. I always feel so sneaky when I do something like that.