According to British social media expert Sofie Sandell, the rise of anonymous online confessions is fuelled by a human desire to connect with others. ‘For all the ways we connect through social media, we can end up more disconnected than ever,’ she says. ‘With confessional websites, we have a place for genuine honesty. Many of us simply don’t have enough people in our lives to confide in. Writing heals, and collecting your thoughts can help you make up your mind on what to do with an issue. Many people in crisis need a listener who will not judge them.’
Judy Body, 51, an administrator from Axbridge, also turned to Pencourage hoping to find compassion. She spotted an article about confessional websites while reading a magazine during chemotherapy treatment for colon cancer in 2013 and went online.
‘Anonymity can feel powerful, in that we can say things online we wouldn’t say to people’s faces,’ explains Sofie. ‘It’s important to remember that by posting online, we are inviting a response, either good or bad. If you’re feeling vulnerable and write about something that’s causing you suffering, there’s no guarantee how it will be received.
‘At the moment, sites like these may appear supportive, but trolls will undoubtedly rear their ugly heads. People need to consider how to deal with negative reactions – especially at such a fragile time.’