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Behind the Gossip

A Deep Dive into the Infamous Titan Gossip Accounts

Kate Casper and Kiran Pippin-Mathur

While perusing Instagram over the summer, T.C. students may have seen some mysterious anonymous gossip accounts surface: @tcwilliamstea and @tcwhs_ships. Inspired by a trend on the popular social media app Tik Tok, the owners of these accounts compiled gossip, known to Gen Z as “tea,” and relationship pairings or “ships” to post. 

While a gossip account sounds anything but innocent, the accounts respectively took on a light-hearted and amusing tone. Students shared their favorite couples from T.C., funny stories, and spoke out on issues within the student body. Even still, there was a positive spin.

“It turned out to be a lot bigger than we expected,” said one of the owners of the @tcwilliamstea page. Beyond the entertainment value of the accounts, the thing keeping followers engaged was the anonymity of the owners. One major factor made both gossip accounts unique: the students behind the accounts were not even from T.C. Williams.

Although followers assumed the owners were fellow Titans hiding in the shadows, the owners of @tcwilliamstea were from Florida and the owner of @tcwhs_ships was from California. 

The Florida-based account is run by three teenagers, Juniors Nicole Borman, (featured in the image to the left) and Alex Land, and Sophomore Jaxson Hines.

What might prompt three friends to create an account for T.C.? It all started with a similar account made for their school, Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Florida, that also popped up during summer 2020. With an emphasis on sharing positive messages and compliments with fellow students, the Cypress Bay “tea” page grew to hundreds of followers within weeks. When the owners finally revealed their identity, they shared that they were from California and had no ties to the school whatsoever.

Seeing strangers bring positivity to their school in a fun innovative way was intriguing for the group of Floridians. They were determined to “pay it forward to another school,” said Borman. They decided on T.C. because of its large population and reputation in Virginia. The team of teenagers began interacting with students and collecting confessionals and messages from students via a Google Form linked in the Instagram bio.

However, this account only accepted positive comments. The group decided what was and was not worth sharing and what confessions could bring people together, while abandoning sharing more personal “tea” that might only spread rumors and instigate drama. The team realized certain topics were off limits, but chose to share “what we condone, and what we want to spread to other people,” said Borman. 

Borman, Land, and Hines not only cultivated this positive community of Titans, but felt they impacted these students they had previously never known. “I think it was really cool to be the reason that other people were smiling and reading something nice about them. Being the platform for that was really special,” Land said. 

Borman said, “Just seeing that someone took the time out of their day to write something nice about you—that makes you feel so good about yourself.” Beyond the T.C. community, the account helped foster unlikely friendships between the owners and the T.C. student body. A few T.C. sophomores and juniors in particular got extremely close to them. Borman admits, “I never expected to get so close to them; we FaceTime regularly. We didn’t realize we were going to build such strong friendships through this, and it is really nice that we did.”

The @tcwhs_ships account took on a more light-hearted, funny tone, contrasting the sentimental, silly, aesthetically-pleasing @tcwilliamstea page. The owner of @tcwhs_ships, Junior Laney Schmitz, said, “I was at my friend’s house, and we saw these Tik Toks of people who made confessional accounts for random schools.” She began by making an account for a school in Louisiana, but students were using the account to share mean messages and rumors, so she decided to delete it.

Although the first account was a flop, she decided to start a new one. On a whim, she discovered T.C. Williams while searching schools in Virginia. She said it was “nothing serious.” For weeks, she teased her identity, just as @tcwilliamstea did.

“They totally thought it was one of their classmates…They had no idea that I was behind it,” Schmitz said. She revealed her identity in a post to her Instagram story (featured right) where she answered questions about herself.

Junior Grace Williams, a student featured on the @tcwhs_ships account, said, “The guy that I was shipped with sent me the post, and we kind of laughed about it together, which was a relief since I thought it’d make it awkward between us, but it didn’t at all. In fact, we both felt like celebrities for being featured on such a popular account!”

Another junior, Kate Holley said, “People use that account to mess with their friends. It’s more a joke than an actual gossip account.”

While many see the account as entertaining and funny, Junior Kevin Dols said he is not a fan of the Titan gossip pages in general.

Despite this, account runners of @tcwilliamstea and @tcwhs_ships plan to continue, from posting about holidays to sharing more amusing and inspiring posts about T.C. Titans on their platforms.

Owen Wright contributed reporting to this article.