The web is a great communication tool, its links people who would otherwise never meet and lets them discuss topics that interest them through blogs, forums and websites.
But for every conversation that may seem mundane and boring to you, there are people opening up and confessing their deepest, darkest secrets and posting musings, that once upon a time only their diary would have seen.
However, because its on the web, we can all view it. There's something incredibly entertaining, comforting, and pleasurably voyeuristic about witnessing people anonymously pour their hearts out. Face it, aren't just about all of us interested in the secret lives of others?
Are they real?
Of course, there's no way to know whether a particular declaration of guilt or longing by a stranger is true, but that doesn't seem to make much difference. Even if totally made up, some of these little online missives really ring my emotional bell. Other evoke disgust or make me laugh.
Many of the sexual online confessions read a lot like the famous 'Letters to Penthouse' section of the well-known adult magazine. I may be cynical, but I just can't believe that everyone's cousin or sister asks them to take off their pants.
Note: Most of these sites require you to provide at least an email address and a password before you can post confessions or apologies. Nothing is required to read posted material, though several sites will hassle you constantly to register as you peruse their contents.
A smorgasbord of wimpy complainers
Let's start with my favourite, Group Hug. I'm a softy, and I like this site because it usually lets visitors send a virtual hug to someone. Regrettably, that function isn't working right now.
GroupHug thoughtfully defines 'confess' for users: "To make confession; to disclose sins or faults, or the state of the conscience" and goes on to plead: "the confession should be about you, it should be interesting. Do not use names. Do not respond to other confessions here. It's not a message board. Group Hug!".
On this site you can read the latest confessions, try your luck with a random choice, or search on topics that especially interest you (sex, work, hurt, cry, etc.) It doesn't have to be important.
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NEXT PAGE: Give them a piece of your mind
The web offers a treasure trove of musings and discussions by surfers, some of them fairly mundane, but others tantalising and exciting. We check out the sites that let you witness people divulging their deepest, darkest secrets.
Give them a piece of your mind
E-Admit has a hard-to-read interface, but it's an interesting site to visit because many confessors post quick polls beneath their emotional posts. This allows the you to offer them some guidance on their predicament.
You can also send an E-Admit confession writer a private email message if the writer chose that option when he or she registered. Frankly, that sounds dangerous to me. I can only imagine what kind of comments you'd get from people who don't have to identify themselves. (Inquisitive nutjobs like me keep their opinions to themselves!)
E-Admit updates the page once a day and thoughtfully provides a countdown to the refresh, so you'll know at once when a fresh crop of whiners is due to appear.
JoeApology.com takes a different tack in dealing with people's guilty feelings. Its concentration, of course, is on the apology, which can be to anyone about anything and with any degree of genuine contrition.
The site asks: "Are you feeling sorry about something you did? Do you want to get something off your chest? Go on, tell me about it...and remember, it's completely anonymous. Just post your apology, no matter how big or small, and you'll feel so much better. I promise".
Confession as art
Perhaps the most famous site in this genre is PostSecret, which treats your admissions and confessions as pieces of art. The site claims to have had more than 24 million visitors.
Unlike some of the other confession sites, PostSecret is not about instant gratification for participants. Instead, they have to create or doctor up a postcard and post it to the site's founder, Frank Warren. Per site guidelines, the secret must be true and it must be something that the teller has never revealed to another person.
The All-American Rejects - used the PostSecret concept to good advantage in the video for their song 'Dirty Little Secret'.
Only the entries that the site's proprietor chooses get posted online (the selection changes weekly). However, you can view hundreds of past posted secrets on its archive site, or view secrets that didn't make it to the main site.
NEXT PAGE: Group therapy
The web offers a treasure trove of musings and discussions by surfers, some of they fairly mundane, but others tantalising and exciting. We check out the sites that let you witness people divulging their deepest, darkest secrets.
My last favourite to share with you is Experience Project, whose motto is 'Be Real. Be Yourself'.
The only thing worse than having a boss who is a fellow World of Warcraft fanatic would be having a boss who loves WoW and visits Experience Project regularly. "Are you threatening me?"
This site is fun because it gives participants a chance to join groups that share interests. (Sad to say, the 'I Live in a Sexless Marriage' group has nearly 6000 members). The site also has a Confessions tab, and registered readers may comment on or rate the confessions. Unfortunately, the writers on this site tend to put way too many double spaces between paragraphs when they type.
Experience Project's home page provides a convenient left column that helps busybody visitors get to the good stuff fast by choosing among 'Highest Rated', 'Sex Confessions', 'Love Confessions' and many others.
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See also: 50 great websites and services for 2009