Students have found a place to share advice, expertise and knowledge during trying times on Instagram
A big part of university is finding friends and community. This isn’t always easy for students, especially now with lockdowns and stay-at-home orders in effect.
However, Ryerson students have found a new way to increase socialization and community involvement even without physically being in school.
A student-run Instagram page called “ru_confessions” allows students to confess and speak their minds anonymously.
Through the page, students can fill out a form to ask for advice, rant or just say whatever is on their minds to almost 8,000 followers.
Followers commonly respond to the confessions in the comments with their opinions and advice.
Anton Ivanov, who goes by “artifice_intel” on Instagram, is a second-year civil engineering student at the University of Toronto. He’s been a consistent commenter on many of the page’s confessions, looking to give intrapersonal and relationship advice.
“For the most part, I would say the advice I tend to prefer to give out is the kind that I believe may be of some use or of which I know well of, often from my own experience,” Ivanov said. “There is of course no guarantee that my advice is the best, but I believe there is no shame in providing it anyways.”
Ivanov said what he likes most about the page is its diversity and community.
“With the wide range of diversity of these confessions, you also end up gaining some representation from the community, whether it be from an anonymous confessor, or the followers of the page who publicly comment and generate conversations with people,” he said.
“I think this page also makes it easier for some people to have fun with other people or discover them, and that I personally believe to be good.”
In an article published by the CBC, Joanna Clark, the chairperson for the Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Federation of Students, said physical distancing rules have affected the sense of community that would have been the norm on campus prior to COVID-19.
This sense of community has been lost for many students, resulting in them turning to social media to get it back.
Ishveen Kaur Daroch, who goes by “ishxeen” on Instagram, is a second-year social work student at Humber College. She said she has met many new friends through the page.
“When I first started commenting, it was on just one confession,” Daroch said. “The more I commented, many reached out to me through (direct messages), and I had the opportunity to meet many that I am now very good friends with.”
Daroch is an avid commenter on the page and has earned the nickname “essay girl” from the thorough advice that she gives on many posts. She said that she enjoys helping others through the advice she gives and feels good to know that others in the community find her advice helpful.
“It builds community, because it lets conversations happen around topics such as mental health, relationships, school, and much more,” she said. “It also lets students from other schools join the conversations, and helps create a community of moral support for each other, which is very important.”
The page has posted over 6,500 confessions since its first post back in September 2019.
Shelly Mezheritsky, who goes by “shellymezh” on Instagram, is a first-year business management student at Ryerson. She said she enjoys commenting on interesting posts about relationship and life advice.
“I like the entertaining comments people leave and how you get to interact with people,” Mezheritsky said. “This page 100 per cent promotes community and I honestly think you can make a lot of great connections.”
However, Ivanov said that some of these confessions could enforce toxicity and should not always be taken at face value.
“The only issue with the page, though not necessarily one that has a solution, or needs one, is that sometimes these confessions may be a bit rude, disappointing, or showcase a generalization that really should not exist,” Ivanov said. “I think the page is still in good standing and is often not the grounds for major controversies that divide people. It usually unifies them in some way.”
For Daroch, she said that she has received a lot of criticism and hate for her thorough advice.
“Some comments can be very rude and degrading. I’m not talking about dark humour or sarcastic comments, I’m talking about actual hate, that isn’t needed at all,” Daroch said. “Sometimes when I go into the comments, I see hate comments about myself from others that I have never talked to or rude remarks towards others.”
However, Daroch continues to share her advice and keep a positive attitude when commenting.
“It really did bring down my self esteem in a way, but over time I learned that some people will always hate no matter what, so I just continued to give advice anyways,” Daroch said. “My main intention was to help others, through my own life experiences.”
This story was updated at 1:20 p.m., March 1, with this correction. In an earlier version of the story Anton Ivanov was identified as a student at Ryerson. He is a student at the University of Toronto.