An outlet with the power of anonymity

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Imagine you are bored going through your Twitter timeline or your Facebook news feed, and you see your picture or your name pop up on a random St. John’s account. You scroll through ‘SJU Crushes’ and see your name mention.

You are now someone’s “crush”, and others will see that as well.

You wonder who this person is, but you won’t ever know who that admirer is, who used either of beautiful compliments or indecent comments by which to refer to you.

Perhaps it was one of your friends trying to be funny, or maybe it was someone who really wants to talk to you but was just too afraid. So that person used a social media outlets to speak their mind while keeping their anonymity.

Situations like this do not happen in the social media accounts that St. John’s encourages the students to follow and be active on – these are only found on those unofficial SJU accounts created and run by students for the students.

These social media accounts use the university’s name to point out different aspects of St. John’s and its students in a relaxed and sociable way.

From accounts that students share problems or complaints they may find around   campus, to others that share anonymously post a student that they admire, there are people who see the good and the ugly side of having these many alternative accounts.

Senior Paul ‘Gee’ Gordon believes that these accounts “weirdly” show school pride.

“It shows that people are just thinking or talking about the school,” Gordon said. The Communications major student is highly involved with the “St. John’s Now” social media accounts. On Twitter, @StJohnsNow has over 7,200 followers.

However, Gordon thinks that these unofficial accounts can be seen as good only if they are used in a positive manner.

He said the accounts that share pictures and comments of students can sometimes be looked at as a form of bullying or harassment, and the fact that it’s anonymous just makes it easier for people to do so without worrying about consequences.

Gordon also said that in some cases, these accounts follow that idea where “misery enjoys company.”

He believes that while the official St. John’s social media pages reaches students with a positive approach, people rely on the other ones to voice their opinions about situations found on campus.

“I feel like some of the accounts, such as ‘St. John’s Problems’, can raise awareness on things that are going around campus,” sophomore Stefan Chong said.

Situations shared on this particular page vary from humorous, minor complaints to bigger issues. In his opinion, if students share on social media the problems they might find on campus, it could catch the university’s attention to fix them.

Chong also mentioned “SJU Crushes”, where anyone can anonymously write about their crushes. He believes that in some cases, it can be harmful since it is easy for people to lie as well as create problems between others.

Freshman Lauren Martinez said that she doesn’t see this as a healthy approach to compliment someone.

In fact, Martinez believes that it is “degrading” to anonymously share a name or picture on a social media outlet, particularly if a crush is listed solely because of physical attracvieness, and even more so if crass language is being used to describe that person. It can be very damaging to the way one may look at himself or herself.

“You don’t need other people to say [if] you’re attractive or not,” Martinez said. “Especially when it’s anonymous.”

The SJU Crushes Facebook page administrator, who wishes to keep his or her identity anonymous, thinks otherwise.

The upperclassman prefers to remain anonymous because the person enjoys the followers wondering if it is a male or student running the page.

According to the administrator, there was a SJU Crushes page before that was no longer active, so he or she decided to start  the page again in the fall 2013 semester.

The administrator mentioned how he or she is always mindful of what is posted on the page. If a comment is insulting and irrelevant, then there is absolutely no need for that comment to be posted.

“It can be difficult to decide what is or isn’t offensive in these politically correct times,” the SJU Crushes administrator said. “But if it catches my eye or makes me uncomfortable, I consider more deeply how it make someone else feel.”

Despite some people who see the negative aspect of the anonymous pages, it seems that the pages are popular among the student body. The SJU Facebook page has over 820 “likes” and the St. John’s Problems Twitter page has 692 followers.

Why are so many people drawn to these accounts? What is so compelling about these secrets, these crushes and these complaints?

“People are curious,” the SJU Crushes administrator said. “It’s fun to guess who said what, and read things people are too afraid to say out loud.”

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