In the debate community recently, an anonymous soul started a Facebook account dedicated to posting compliments about people in the debate community (Debate Compliments). The goal was simple: to spread joy to the debate community. Within hours, the person (or should I say, two people?) had acquired over one hundred Facebook friends. Now, they have almost 700. It seemed as though every five minutes, gracious tributes to fellow debaters would show up in my newsfeed. The posts would vary in content. Some people would shout out a whole team (as in, people from one school), and some would send in inside jokes that would be posted. Most, however, are recognizing members of the debate community from both the national circuit and local circuits for traits that are both related and entirely unrelated to their debating skills. People are acknowledged based on their personalities and their achievements of the season. So, the creators say: “if there is something nice you have to say about someone but don’t feel comfortable saying it to their face, inbox away.”
The trend has spread! Less than a day ago, two mysterious individuals at our school started a Facebook account with the same objective, of showing appreciation for the members of our community (Westminster Compliments). Refresh your newsfeed every couple of minutes, and you will see posts with multiple likes, representing the mutual agreement of opinion. At this very moment, Westminster Compliments has 174 friends. WOW!
Of course, everyone has a hunch about who the creators are. However, all of these guesses are only guesses until someone decides to step up and provide proof that they started either Facebook account. I doubt someone will though. If their intentions are genuine, anonymity is crucial to maintain the theme of gracious appreciation for individuals without the annoyance of drama or the hassle of judgment.
The way I see it, the creators of these Facebook accounts are reverse Gossip Girls. Or rather, after seeing the very last episode of the series, perhaps they are just Gossip Girls, since Dan Humphrey ended up using his social power for good.
These accounts all possess the Gossip Girl effect. No one knows who Gossip Girl/Debate Compliments/Westminster Compliments is. And yet people send in their “tips”. Of course, the difference is that Gossip Girl would post reliable and credible gossip, while these other two accounts simply aim to bring happiness to two different communities through compliments. And yet, who knows what the potential implications of these social phenomena could be? Could the creators use their powers for evil instead of good? And if they did, would the public follow along and send in statements that are not compliments?
From watching from the sidelines as my Facebook friends have eagerly latched onto this new social trend, all I can conclude is that there have only been benefits. I’ve learned things about people that I’ve met that I probably wouldn’t expect. I’ve found out wonderful things about people that I’ve never met.
Many questions remain. Is the popularity of the Something Compliments accounts fleeting? Is this whole thing just a fad? A joke? Or will it become a trend that spreads nationwide?
Hypothetically, if other “Something Compliments” accounts were created, who knows what sort of effects it could have? Could it possibly alleviate bullying? Or would bullies just create “Something Insults” to counter to positive effects?
It could change the way social media functions. Different from Formspring, this group would most likely be operated by someone within the community. That way, it would have a more personalized aspect; perhaps followers and supporters would be more likely to accept, and not immediately judge the effects of such a group.
Whoever you are, I hope you use your powers for good, and not for evil. Keep on doing what you’re doing. I won’t pester you anymore about the subject. Just know that most of the people in either community (whether it debate or school) greatly appreciate what you’re doing. It’s not like everyone has the time to copy and paste messages into status boxes! Even if it were the job of two operators.
New segment/category on the blog: From One End of the Spectrum to the Other!
This is essentially where I will argue for both sides of an issue. I believe in what I write for both sides, but don’t forget why this blog is called Never Stationary…
Here’s one side of the spectrum, the other side will be coming soon!
A common misconception is that recent developments such as Facebook and Twitter have increased our quality of life and our ability to communicate with others. Yay, instant and global! Public and permanent! However, people who believe this blatant lie fail to recognize that it can actually replace the original ways that we communicate, which prove to be more valuable than these new social networking sites.
So let’s be bold and speak loudly, like we used to. Way back when we didn’t have Facebook for picture stalking and Tumblrs for ranting invisibly, we would write letters and potentially send emails to communicate with our long-distance friends, and we’d make phone calls and physically meet up the people that fortunately live near us.
Tumblrs are for spilling out feelings without communicating to other people directly what you are feeling, and Facebook is for stalking without the other person ever knowing. We scroll through statuses and pictures that we like and don’t physically thumbs-up them. I suffer from this problem too.
On WordPress, I can tell. Thanks to the Stats page on WordPress, I know how many views this site will get, and even how many views this particular blog post will receive. I know whether the site hit comes from Facebook or WordPress “Freshly Pressed” or from links on other blogs. There are a lot of lurkers on the internet that will stumble upon random sites like mine but not leave a trace, except contribute to the amount of views I get.
I’m young, and everyone seems to have a Facebook/Instagram/Twitter account. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrolled past pictures or quotes or tweets that make me giggle, smile, or re-evaluate the meaning of life, but about which I have done nothing. I’m not one to physically thumbs-up things on Facebook.
But it’s not fair! People who SHOULD be recognized don’t get recognized. Just as (excuse the horrible analogy) the structure of political parties allows it so that anything that the party advocates, followers often vote that way too, on social networking sites, too many people get likes, ping-backs, and retweets of what the post simply because that is the norm.
Do you even think that picture is pretty?
Not really, but look how many likes it already got. Everyone thinks her pictures are gorgeous.
That joke that you retweeted wasn’t even funny.
I know, but I always retweet his tweets…
I find that people nowadays generally have a harder time communicating with each other than ever before, because of the expansion of communication methods.
But, our ways of communicating have expanded! Doesn’t that indicate that we should be improving the ways that we keep in touch with other?
Think of our capability to communicate as a piece of Play-doh. There’s a finite amount available for each us, and we can either choose to keep it in a form with all the material is bunched together, and condensed into one solid mass. On the other hand, we also have the option of flattening it out and smearing it thinly across a table surface. The table represents the world, and our hand symbolizes the decisions that we make about how we communicate with others. We can keep it condensed in a ball form, or flattened like a sheet of paper, and we can certainly keep it somewhere in between. Each person has a different form of Play-doh than everyone else, which demonstrates how capable we are of communicating with people through technology. Indeed, in a complicated way, if we choose to extend our relationships across state border lines and oceans, we risk sacrificing the quality of communication that we used to have when technology was so much simpler. Simply put, recent technological developments such as mobile phones and the internet are beneficial in helping us reach others that don’t live close to us, but only to a point.
We don’t take risks anymore.
This problem relates partially to our usage of technology, but of course, there are also external factors that contribute to this issue.
We still don’t take as many risks as we used to. Do we even know what it is like to ride a bike to someone’s house in the middle of the night and pound on their door? When it cracks opens, do we know how to beg for forgiveness and spout a heartfelt list of reasons of why the person is absolutely the most splendid thing in our life? So that’s never happened to me but I’m just creating an example.
Do awkward, inexperienced tweens quietly admit to each other that they have a crush on each other in person, or do they do it by text nowadays? There’s something different about texting someone “I like u. do u like me?” It lacks the genuine suspense that comes from staring a person in a face as the words slip out. The person that has to respond if they like the other person can’t run away and has to respond fairly quickly. It is much easier to interpret what someone is feeling by looking at their face, not by analyzing whether or not there were 2 y’s in their “yeah” or whether they used a period or not.
When I was in junior high, I was fortunate enough to still pass notes the old-fashioned way, through folding them up and sneakily passing them in class. I was in the last generation to be able to live that experience. Adolescents are now almost entirely dependent on their phones. Some schools even offer laptops to their students, which means that people can also communicate through Gchat, Facebook chat and other social networking instant messaging systems.
Let’s play the “phone stack game.” When everyone arrives at some sort of gathering (a dinner perhaps?) everyone is required to stack their phones in the middle of the table, and the first person to cave and check their phone has to cover the check.
This game subtly forces people to make eye contact and maintain small talk that will eventually carry over into a real conversation. There’s no distracting ourselves from checking Facebook or Instagram or Tumblr or Twitter.
Ultimately, it upsets me how everyone (myself included) seems to be increasingly dependent and obsessed with technology. Not that these new forms of communication are entirely bad, but allowing them to replace authentic methods of communication poses great dangers to our ability to socialize and maintain contact with other people. The quality of our conversations are likely to plummet, and the likelihood of social awkwardness is sure to skyrocket.
Silence is golden, yada yada yada.
But now we live in a world that is saying less. We are speaking out less. Specifically, we aren’t saying what we want to say to others. We aren’t taking risks and blurting out things that we don’t want to hold in. But we hold them in anyways. And if we can’t hold them in, we’ll filter them into blogs and journals or we’ll go on Tumblr and pretend like the other people who use this site actually understand exactly what we’re going through, and we’ll distract ourselves from the problem at hand. We’ll ignore the fact that we aren’t saying what desperately needs to be said.
Yes, if there is a pressing global social issue at hand, we will speak out. Revolutionary changes like the Civil Rights Movement and the Egyptian Revolution succeed because social networking sites and global news publications help spread the word and depict images that can provoke anger and change, but I’m referring to a problem that exists on a more individual level.
So let’s be bold, and speak loudly. Let’s take more chances and put our pride on the line.
Let’s stop stalking party photos and directly ask someone how the party went.
I know there will be backlash and initial judgment, as young people have a tendency to alienate people who try to stand out. We’re not used to such direct communication, and will probably perceive it as confrontation of sort. It’s weird to like pictures and statuses of people we rarely interact with in real life, but that just demonstrates the severity of the situation, does it not?
But if we take the time to focus our attention on someone through a letter (physical…) or an email or a phone call as opposed to a text or a chat, it no longer seems careless and thoughtless. The action of contacting someone would then demonstrate a genuine interest.