Some of you may have heard of the website PostSecret. Every week I wait for the new batch of postcards, "revealing" people's secrets. Obviously, these secrets are anonymous but, for many people who design their secret postcard, such a step is just the first move in a direction of healing.
Today, in my class on confession and forgiveness, Dr. Dykstra distributed an article that was published on NYTimes.com on September 1, 2006, entitled Intimate Confessions Pour Out on Church's Website. (I would link to it, but it wouldn't help anyone unless they have a subscription.) The article discussed My Secrets, a website created by LifeChurch, an evangelical network with nine locations (including an internet campus) and based in Edmond, Oklahoma, which was founded by Craig Groeschel.
My Secrets is similar to PostSecret in that it is a safe, yet public, space in which to make confession, tell secrets, etc. It is unlike PostSecret in that it is sponsored by a Christian church and is specifically designed for people to be able to confess their sins. There is an archive, there are categories, there is a warning that one must be over 18 to view the content because some of it relates to "adult" issues.
I appreciate the need for confession. There is something inside me that responds when I read these words from Groeschel: "We confess to God for forgiveness but to each other for healing. Secrets isolate you, and keep you away from God, from those people closest to you." But, I wonder if anonymous confession heals relationships the way face to face confession does. It can certainly feel wonderful to tell someone, anyone, what one is struggling with. However, anonymous confession offers no accountability and very little hope of real change.
Perhaps these anonymous, online confessions have been the first step for some of the writers. It is possible that some have found the courage to confess in person after writing out their confessions online. If nothing else, maybe reading such confessions may help people to realize that they are not alone in whatever issue they happen to be facing.
What do you think: What is the benefit of detailed, anonymous confession on the internet? Should we read confessions by those whom we do not know and cannot help? Is it voyeurism to do so?