Behind The Scenes With The Confessions’ Queen
What happens when you put a Lindenberg and a Zuckerberg together in the same room? The YU/Stern Confessions and Crushes pages are realized and satiate the satire needs of the YU online community. Along with its humorous personality, the pages have made developments in areas of counseling that have served many students with ranging issues regarding relationships, religion and society. Often, you will find genuine advice given over in the comments that have made a real difference for the anonymous posters and observers, which Shifra Lindenberg, the founder of the pages, is very proud of, as she expressed, “I was glad to hear that people were able to use the pages as a platform to talk and get help for their issues through this networking effort.”
An advantageous feature of these pages is that people can send in their secrets anonymously. Though there has been some false speculation going around that it’s merely a kosher “Mean Girls” Burn Book waiting to be printed and plastered all over YU, this is far from the truth. The page does not collect emails or names, and zero trace is left behind due to the page’s programming through its Google Form settings. This grants people the privilege of honest and free expression, which allows flooding reactions to be unbiased.
These ideas, which stem from Shifra’s love for creating content and managing, have snowballed into a mini movement that aims to simply make people happy. “I like making people laugh and making funny content to see how far it goes and how many people it can reach,” said Lindenberg. Recently, she was discovered by a well-known Facebook page called Student Problems. They had viewed her work and decided to feature one of her memes on their platform. This was a great milestone, as it enabled her to reach a larger audience beyond the virtual walls of YU.
Many of the confessions and crushes are filtered due to the overwhelming amount that are sent in daily. Despite the time and energy expended to the pages, there is a fun element to it. Shifra has a process in which she first sweeps through all of the potential posts, prioritizes some and then designates the rest to a status of either pending or passing depending on the content. While both pages have similar goals and styles, they are somewhat distinct. During its infancy, the Confessions page had been receiving many statements about people’s secret crushes, so it resulted with Shifra making a spin-off, or, in her words, “a sister splinter page” that’s solely devoted to matters of the heart.
On the Crushes page, everyone is a fan of someone or some aspect(s) of their crush. There are no specified parameters. One will see many admirers trying to catch their crushes’ attention in all kinds of innovative ways, such as Crush #510: “E: I don’t get your last name but you are so sweet and bubbly and you always just bring a smile to my face.” The page is also used by students who just want to joke around and give their friends some unsolicited free PR, such as Crush #26: “J.S. is the most handsome man in this entire religion … Plus he’s smart and does science things.” And don’t think the page ignores those who are not involved, as we see from Crush #468: “The shtark guys who are too frum for this page make me swoon.”
The Confessions page operates slightly different. The more noticeable difference is that it presents a larger pool of emotions and a wide array of problems, which creates a greater following and a significantly higher number of posts. Its focus shifts in every post and the subject matter are almost unpredictable. It has also spawned a group of selfless members — who I call “supreme supporters” — who actively respond empathetically to the confessions seeking advice on anything from religion to relationships to personal identity. Together, they offer a listening ear and provide various resources and information to better the situation. It’s basically like sending a communal, virtual hug.
Of course, the page is also known for its less sensitive and personal content, such as Confession #21: “People who switch out of YU are hot” and Confession #528: “The only reason I want to go to YU is for the shtick. YU is the biggest Jewish meme and I want to be part of that.”
At the same time, there have been more controversial topics introduced and heated debates, such as Confession #716: “YU is the best university! You will never find a college with so many great people. If you complain about YU, go to other college and enjoy BDS!” But this is the whole point; to engage people in a real conversation and learn from one another despite some of our differences. The spectrum is vast and this page gives each point on it a voice. It provides a stage for any and every belief, which can potentially be unpopular and uncommon, to be seen.
At the end of the day, both pages serve unique functions. Looking at its trends, both pages will only increase in popularity and continue to grapple with the dynamic realities and personalities of YU. And that’s the beauty of it. It’s a classic cliché, but the greatest part of YU is the student body and the way they practice their passions. Lindenberg has done just that, using her passion for online content in a productive way to pull the community closer to a place of better understanding. This is the start of, as the old saying goes, building tomorrow, today.
Photo Caption: YU and Stern Confessions Logo
Photo Credit: YU and Stern Confessions