Anonymous UD Facebook pages encourage posts
Published: Monday, March 4, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013 22:03
After starting her junior year at Queen’s University, Erica Gagne and her three roommates sat around their kitchen table, brainstorming ways to do something beneficial for their university, she says. Their decision, which was the creation of a Facebook page that enabled students to post anonymous compliments about each other, became an overnight success. But little did they know, their idea would spread to hundreds of other universities where Facebook pages just like Gagne’s were started with the common goal of promoting kindness on campus.
Since that time, the university became one of those hundreds of institutions with its addition of two Facebook pages on which students can post anonymously. UD Compliments, created in November of last year, is designed after Gagne’s creation, and University of Delaware Confessions was made on Feb. 14. Both pages have gained a large campus community following and have administrators that are insistent on staying as anonymous as the students who post on their sites.
Although Gagne and her roommates intended on staying anonymous, she says a “Time Magazine” interview prompted the girls to reveal themselves as the administrators of the page.
“We wanted other universities to hear about our page, and we thought it would spread more globally if we did the interview,” Gagne says. “And we wanted to promote the initiative of the page.”
The UD Compliments page administrator is vowing to stay anonymous, as is the creator of University of Delaware Confessions, who says the only individual who knows his identity is the creator of the UD Compliments page. He reached out to the page’s administrator to market his new page, which currently boasts 1,654 friends.
The creator of University of Delaware Confessions says he has not told friends or family about his role in the social project and plans not to reveal his secret in an anonymous interview.
Junior Andrew Shermeyer, who was mentioned in a compliment, says receiving a comment has caused him to be more aware of how he acts, and now realizes that people take notice of kind behavior on campus.
“It makes you think, ‘Wow, people do notice when you do good things or act chivalrous,’” Shermeyer says. “Sometimes it seems that it’s all for nothing or not appreciated in today’s society, then moments like that reaffirm your faith.”
Sophomore Megan Watson also says getting a comment of appreciation on the page was an inspiring experience, and she is still unaware of who posted it.
“Its funny because I’m a human services major, so being personable is natural to me, but having someone else say that boosts your confidence,” Watson says. “After seeing it, I thanked the person on the post, but I have no clue who wrote it. I’d love to thank them in person.”
Despite the sentiments posted on the compliments page, insults have been posted in a university-oriented forum of its own. The page, which is titled UD Insults, encourages students to write put-downs about their peers.
Watson says she did not friend this page, which students use to write mean comments in order to mock the message of happiness promoted by the UD Compliments page.
“You are always going to have those people who are negative and want to bring other people down with them,” Watson says.
Although he has not added or even looked at the insult page, Shermeyer says he has heard of it and believes it is a rude concept. He attributes the tendency for students to be demeaning to the humor that comes with “roasting” others. He says comedians such as Daniel Tosh have created a theme in comedy, in which it is considered funny to mock people.
Watson says sites of this nature promote the idea of students having the freedom to rant about subjects they might not normally feel comfortable discussing otherwise. She says she notices this on the University of Delaware Confessions page, where there is a wide range of content shared by students.
“I don’t like the anonymity that lets people write whatever they want,” she says. “I think if you can’t say it to a person in general, you shouldn’t be posting it.”
The page should be about students’ experiences on campus, Watson says, instead of their hateful communication geared toward other students. She says she has witnessed comments by students who choose to bash Greek life, their friends, ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends.
In addition to posts meant to tear students down, another prominent type of unattributed comments are from students who are experiencing serious emotional problems and may need a more serious forum to discuss their confessions, Watson says.
“There needs to be a ‘Dear Abby’ page for those kinds of problems,” says Watson. “I don’t want them not to have a place of safety, and I don’t think that the confessions page is one of them.”
While students sometimes criticize the page for having too many different types of posts, the anonymous creator of University of Delaware Confessions stated in an interview he appreciates the mix of emotional and humorous entries that students have been writing.