In the past two weeks, Facebook page NYU Secrets has gotten over 5000 likes. The page, which posts anonymous secrets sent in by NYU students, has posted over 400 secrets since it went live. Since it seems like the page will only continue to grow in popularity over this coming semester, we sat down with the anonymous founder.
Could you tell us how the page got started?
Well, the first thing is it wasn’t my idea. I have a friend that goes to Washington Univerity in St. Louis and he said they have a moderately successful page like that. But they have a big community there, and he hears me bitching all the time about the state of this school, and he was like, “Well maybe you guys would benefit from something like that.” So I started it. I wasn’t expecting much, but I got more than I bargained for.
What compelled you to start it though?
So I’m a sophomore, right, and by now I feel like I should be doing more than I am with my time. Because I have problems making communities for myself; I’m shy, and I don’t really like talking to people that much. So I wanted to attempt to actively start building community here. I just feel like when you can get people together through a common concept even if they’re not hanging out somewhere, that’s effective.
How many secrets do you post a day?
About a 100 on a busy day. The most I’ve ever posted in a day is about a 100; I’d say now it’s between about twenty to forty maybe.
How many do you receive on average a day?
I’d say I receive about 70 to 100 a day. When it was really picking up in the beginning, last week within a day I had 250.
Does running NYU Secrets ever become a daunting task? How much does it entail for you to keep track of everything?
The hardest part actually is moderation; I don’t want it to become a place where people attack each other for the things that they reveal and I feel like at some points it gets that way. So I try really hard to keep a careful eye on it. I would say I spend about 2 to 3 hours on it a night. It seems like it would be a lot more because it’s always being updated and people even ask me, “Do you have finals or not?” But really it’s just copy-pasting so it’s not that much effort.
It seems like you have a really careful filter as far as what you will post and what you won’t post; what determines that?
In the beginning, nothing; I was posting everything. I noticed that right now people are getting antsy when they’re not secrets, but rather complaints or just thoughts. So I try to pick things that are more secretive. I try not to start fights with really antagonistic things, but sometimes a secret is interesting anyway. I will not post anything that’s outwardly toward a group of people, I don’t think our school needs that and I don’t it’s the place for that. But yeah, everything is kosher.
What are some of the most poignant or weirdest things you’ve received?
I receive a lot of weird things that I can immediately cross off the list because they don’t seem like they’re real. The most powerful thing – I actually think it has over 1,100 likes right now – is the story of the girl whose dad gave her the money for an apartment. The weirdest thing was in the very beginning I got a secret about a guy that was 8 years old playing a wrestling video game and he shit in his pants because he was so excited.
Do you see one particular group of NYU students sending you secrets more than others?
Not really, the only thing is there’s a lot more girls that submit secrets than guys and there’s a huge disparity between the number of girls that like the page and the number of guys. But other than that it’s really even. A lot of straight people post their relationship stuff; a lot of gay people do also. I think it’s pretty indicative of the population of NYU actually.
The popularity of it has taken off really fast; you’re at around 5,700 likes now right?
I think it’s around like 5,300 likes. I made it three weeks ago and until last Monday it had 60 likes.
That’s insane. Why do you think people are so drawn to it?
Honestly, I think when you’re here it’s a supposed to be a community of communities. In your community you might be feeling something and you might think you’re the only one feeling this because there’s really not a forum to talk about stuff like that here. There are very insular communities here, and I feel like this is a page that lets everyone know they’re not alone and that there are people like them. I think that’s really important here.
A lot of the discussion about the popularity of the page has been centered around saying that it speaks to NYU being a fractured community, what are your thoughts on that?
I think it shows that but it also shows that we want to come together. We all share in this struggle, because we all go to the same university in the same city- I think it does show that there is a lack of community here but at the same time I think by showing that its bringing us a little closer together than maybe we were a couple of weeks ago.
People refer to you a lot as a “gatekeeper”; this seems like a heavy responsibility. Your page has achieved NYU fame and that elevates you to being an important member of our community, how do you feel about that?
It’s a little bit of a burden, but at the same time I know myself. I’m never gonna reveal these peoples names, I’m never gonna tell anyone’s secret, and the if secrecy of it were in danger I would just delete everything. It does seem stressful, I guess, but I trust myself.
Of course you want to remain anonymous, but there are people like me that are creepily devoted, stalking, and lurking your page. Is there anything you want people who follow you page to know about you?
Just that I’m not Cole Sprouse doing a social experiment and that I’m not in this for myself at all. I care about building a community here.