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#Microblog Mondays 93: Confession

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I read about the Urban Confessional project on Mental Floss; a sort of face-to-face PostSecret, where people can run up to other people and spill their inner monologue.  Mental Floss explains, “The organization recruits volunteers to stand in public spaces and offer to lend an ear to anyone who wants to unload something, whether it’s happy news or a heartbreaking tale.”

Which sounds great except… isn’t this sort of dangerous, too?  I mean, therapists have training.  They know how to guide someone.  These are just volunteers who are offering to listen.  I think most people will use it in the way they use PostSecret, to unburden their heart to someone.  But what about the people who use the Urban Confessional project to unload something important, and once the words are out of their mouth, realize the person holding their words doesn’t know what to do with them?

Would we applaud untrained surgeons performing simple operations as art or expression?  Sometimes I think stunts like this are wonderful and other times I think they’re dangerous.  I’m on the fence about this one.

What do you think?


Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored posts.

1. Modern Gypsy 13. Aseem 25. Delenn
2. Mali (A Separate Life) 14. Uma S 26. Virginia
3. Mali (No Kidding) 15. Parul | Happiness & Food 27. Foster (and more!) Mom- ing
4. Middle Girl 16. Traci York, Writer 28. Mom Pharm D
5. Persnickety 17. Journeywoman 29. Anamika
6. Infertile Girl 18. Baby Blue Sunday 30. Jess
7. Lori@ Laughing IS Conceivable 19. Good families do – Jenn 31. deathstar
8. the OCD infertile 20. Loribeth (The Road Less Travelled) 32. articulation
9. Karen (River Run Dry) 21. Just Heather 33. Shail
10. Isabelle 22. IF Pom
11. Rain 23. Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal)
12. Empty Arms, Broken Heart 24. Non Sequitur Chica



1 Modern Gypsy { 06.06.16 at 7:03 am }

I agree with you – there’s a much needed element here obviously. People don’t listen enough…and a lot of people just want someone to just hold space for them. But there is the danger of someone spilling a secret so big that a volunteer would not know how to hold space for it.

2 Mali { 06.06.16 at 7:41 am }

Eek. Sorry, somehow the first entry for A Separate Life is from last week. Can you delete it for me?

A stunt like this would never work in New Zealand -we are too small, and we all know each other! (Not quite true, but close enough for us to be wary of telling anyone a secret.) But I share your concerns too.

3 Persnickety { 06.06.16 at 8:15 am }

Mmm, sometimes these ideas work, but it is really crowdsourcing free therapy? Plus there is always the chance that the secret has an I,pact on one of the listeners.

I hope Truman is better?

4 Middle Girl { 06.06.16 at 8:18 am }

No. rife with possible complicated scenarios.

5 Cristy { 06.06.16 at 8:25 am }

My gut says bad idea. But two things make me question my gut.

First, I think most people filter things already for strangers. It usually takes multiple visits to the therapist to even begin dealing with the root of issues due to this filtering.

Second, I’m not terribly impressed with most therapists. It took me a long time to find Dee and David, who helped me in ways no other therapist had. Most truly were no better than a stranger. And to now hear stories of many therapists violating HIPPA laws by sharing patients’ information just leaves me wondering why the whole profession isn’t having an overhaul.

Yes, there are good therapists and yes training is important. So I still think this is a bad idea (like buying prescription meds online), but I can also see the logic of those organizing this as mental health has become kind of a free for all.

6 Obsessivemom { 06.06.16 at 8:35 am }

It just might work I think. Most of us just need a sympathetic ear some days. Of course the danger of someone confidng something big does exist but the chances don’t seem to be too many. The benefit would exceed the danger.

7 katherinea12 { 06.06.16 at 9:05 am }

I actually think this isn’t a totally bad idea provided there are a couple of caveats in place. One, it needs to be listening – no advice. Two, there needs to be some sort of plan for a major situation where someone is in danger or harming self/others.

Like Cristy mentioned above, therapists range from very helpful to neutral to even problematic. It took me a long time to find a therapist I clicked with and it can be hard (not to mention expensive) to find that person who works well with your situation/personality.

I’m convinced that sometimes it helps just to speak out loud about what’s going on – that the skill of listening has been lost in a culture that has a tendency to want to “fix”, offer solutions, or sell to people. If this project teaches listening skills to the volunteers, I think it might have a good bit of value.

8 Lori Shandle-Fox { 06.06.16 at 9:53 am }

Maybe each volunteer should wear a button with an asterisk: *For Entertainment Purposes Only or at least be instructed not to say anything. They’re only permitted to smile, nod, & hug at their own risk.

9 Lavonne @ the OCD infertile { 06.06.16 at 10:06 am }

Yea I’m a bit on the fence as well. It’s awesome that these people are volunteering to listen to strangers in order to try and help them in some way but they could be signing on for a lot more and carrying around baggage from confessions made that they can’t do anything with. If it was a movie someone would meet someone and fall in love this way though 😉 lol!

10 Ana { 06.06.16 at 10:13 am }

I think this can be dangerous for the listener as well as a the confessor. I’m sure most “secrets” are somewhat benign, but what if it really traumatized the volunteer? Mental health professionals are also trained in how to maintain some degree of distance when listening to other people’s trauma. Maybe there need to be ground rules for not “confessing” things that truly require professional help or for how to get help should a confession cross into that line.

11 Karen M { 06.06.16 at 10:14 am }

I can see a lot wrong with this. First off, people can’t be trusted to just listen and not attempt to “help” with advice. Second, for the reason that we were never encouraged to talk to our fellow patients in outpatient therapy – if somebody winds up having a crisis, you will not be able to do anything. You would try, but it could be a danger to the other person and you.

12 Karen { 06.06.16 at 10:23 am }

Wow, I hadn’t heard about this. I do hope they are trained. Because it’s not just about how they’d help the person doing the confessing in the moment. Sometimes it’s really hard to carry other people’s heavy situations, too. For the person who is doing the listening, I do hope they have some kind of training.

13 Ana { 06.06.16 at 10:56 am }

Any Truman updates? I’m worried about the little guy.

14 UmaS { 06.06.16 at 12:55 pm }

I don’t think I’ll be comfortable talking my secrets to some volunteer of Confessions !!

15 Parul { 06.06.16 at 1:01 pm }

I would love to volunteer for something like this. All most people is someone to listen with whole of the heart and I would be willing to lend my ear. Listening teaches us more than we can imagine.

16 Traci York { 06.06.16 at 1:18 pm }

I can definitely see pros and cons to this, so I’m on the fence too. However, given how many strangers have randomly spilled their life stories/secrets to me while standing in the checkout line, I can see why there’s such an interest in this.

17 Ashley { 06.06.16 at 2:30 pm }

I posted my first Microblog Monday today, but I think I messed it up and it posted twice! Yikes! Sorry!

In regards to the question about untrained volunteers receiving off-the-cuff secrets from individuals, I’m leaning towards not a good idea. As a foster parent, I am a mandatory reporter. If I were to volunteer in this capacity and heard a confession that includes potential or possible harm of a minor, I would need to report it to authorities for them to investigate. It doesn’t matter if the person is unknown to me or if I received the information in confidence. I understand why this might be appealing, to unload on a complete stranger, but as everyone else has mentioned, what comes next? In that moment it might be cathartic and yet still require intensive therapy to come to terms with whatever was done. Best to leave it to the professionals!

18 JustHeather { 06.06.16 at 3:38 pm }

I don’t think I could ever tell my deepest secret(s) to a total stranger, it just feels weird. On the flip side, I have heard a lot more about people’s lives by just sitting on the bus and hearing them talk to the person next to them (sometimes a known person, other times a stranger) or on the phone. Not all people have a filter. I too would worry about the more dangerous/harmful secrets, for the teller and listener. Sounds like a fun idea…but too much bad could come out of it.

19 loribeth { 06.06.16 at 3:57 pm }

There is a great value in listening to others. But I can’t think of too many people who would want to just unburden themselves & not get some sort of feedback or advice on what they’ve just said. Or too many people who listened and resisted the impulse to react or offer a word of advice, even if they’re not professionals who are “qualified’ to give it.

This reminds me of my experience running a pregnancy loss support group for 10 years. As facilitators, we were there mostly to listen. We had to emphasize at the start of each meeting that we were NOT professionals, although we did have a little training in grief theory and group dynamics, as well as the shared experience of loss. But I know some people thought of us as their “counsellors” all the same. And it was hard to keep from giving advice or our opinions, even though we weren’t really supposed to.

20 Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal) { 06.06.16 at 4:06 pm }

Yeah, I’ll pull up a seat next to you on the fence. With PostSecret, it’s anonymous, so I think that’s a huge difference. I think there can be something healthy in confession, but have all the participants really thought through the consequences of what they’re saying?

21 nonsequiturchica { 06.06.16 at 4:24 pm }

I would never participate, but I do think that telling someone your secret could be helpful. However, I could definitely see the flip side. I do love PostSecret, but I wonder if a lot of people wouldn’t participate in this because it is not so anonymous.

22 G { 06.06.16 at 8:13 pm }

Just added my first ever #microblogmonday . . . hope I did it right.

I have to agree with most of your other commentators. The difference between this idea and PostSecret is in the response. People send things to PostSecret with the understanding that they may never get any kind of reaction to their secret; with this, someone is standing in front of you, listening to what you have to say. What can/should that person do with what you have said to them? If they don’t react/respond to something that you’ve been struggling with sharing, doesn’t that add to the sense of shame and guilt? And yet, if they react wrongly — because, as many said, these people are untraining — serious damage could be done.

Bad, bad idea.

23 Anamika Agnihotri { 06.06.16 at 8:20 pm }

I would not spill out my secrets to anybody and not in such an activity.

24 Mom PharmD { 06.06.16 at 8:21 pm }

Is there even the promise of anonymity in these confessionals? I’ve told my biggest secrets to strangers but with the promise of anonymity and that makes a huge difference in how safe I felt to share. The link to the guide was broken so I couldn’t read the rules of the road but with emphasis on the unprofessional nature of the interaction and a promise of anonymity might make it safe and beneficial.

25 Jess { 06.06.16 at 9:47 pm }

I think it depends on what you’re looking for. Just unloading something that’s been weighing heavily without expecting any kind of meaningful advice, just a listening ear, could be nice. As long as you’re not expecting the ear to solve all your problems, to be providing some kind of solution. I am mixed on this one, depending on what the unloader is seeking and what the “listening ear” is doing — as long as they don’t become wannabe therapists, maybe it’s okay. Wow, super uncommittal response.

26 chandni { 06.07.16 at 12:28 am }

I do feel one would find comfort in a non – judgemental listener yet I don’t suppose I would download my angst or frustrations to volunteer listeners neither can I be one myself.
I need to know the person to some extent – what drives them , their reactions– to speak or listen about personal issues.

Cant find the link to add my MicroBlog post so here goes


27 md { 06.08.16 at 1:24 am }

i too am on the fence.. i can see pros and cons, and it totally depends on both the confessor and the listener.. yikes!

28 Deathstar { 06.08.16 at 11:14 am }

Sure it will work. With little secrets. Like I am in love with my dentist or I ate the leftover cake at midnight. What would you do if someone came up and said I think my dad is molesting my little sister? Or I am stealing money from the till. Or I do cocaine when the kids are sleeping? How are you really helping people then? But I’m a worst case scenario type of person anyway.

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