Andrew Lai is internet famous. And if you’re one of the 16,500 or so people who like the Facebook page “UBC Confessions,” you almost definitely know his name.
His hobby began on UBC Connect, where students in his TA course, CPSC 310, didn’t quite understand the material. He had to remain professional in order to address the students’ concerns, but found some of their questions to be “kind of hilarious,” so he began to slip in small nuggets of sarcasm when he could pass them off as helpful advice.
Internet sarcasm is a slippery slope, and before long, Lai found something more entertaining than computer science students struggling to understand software development: UBC Confessions — a place for students to anonymously confess their innermost secrets, or just complain about campus.
“I just thought the confessions were really stupid in general and they’re getting worse and worse … so I thought, ‘You know what’d be really cool? If I made even stupider comments on them,’” Lai said.
It’s that attitude that has — perhaps ironically — kept him a fan favourite amongst the users of the page. What’s more intriguing, though, is that through his biting sarcasm, Lai hopes to convey some meaning to the people reading his comments. Though he still views his Facebook endeavours “primarily as a joke,” he holds strong beliefs about morality that he expresses in his own, rather unorthodox manner.
The Confessions page is often an outlet for students to vent their frustration, from complaining about construction, to cyclists, to bus etiquette. According to Lai, conflict arises from misunderstanding, and it could all be avoided with kinder human interaction.
“Sometimes I see really intolerant stuff on [the page] that’s filled with so much hatred. I’m like, ‘How can you live a happy life when you’re like that?’ I don’t believe that any two people should have conflict,” he said. “I can pretty comfortably say that I don’t have any conflict in my life … I really feel like it’s important for people to connect to each other, to view each other on good terms by default.”
Lai is striving to make the world a better place, in his own unique way. He hopes that some of the angry commenters will take his advice, even if it is shrouded in sarcasm.
“I don’t expect to be received positively, but if that happens, I’m going to try to use my lame influence on this lame page to influence people,” he said.
For all his humanistic views, Lai views his comments as mostly a source of entertainment for himself — if others happen to enjoy his work, that’s their prerogative, but he’s most definitely not doing it for the online recognition.
If you’d like to hear what Lai has to say in real life, you can often find him playing the piano outside the UBC bookstore. Don’t be afraid to approach him, you’ll likely be met with open arms and far less sarcasm than you might expect — especially if you share his musical tastes.
“If you like trance music you should start partying with me. I’ll be anyone’s friend, I don’t care.”