Spreading love through a computer screen

November 11, 2016

To many, checking their Facebook page has become an obsession. I am no different; I am on Facebook more times than I can count in a day. On Nov. 6, I opened my laptop and logged onto my Facebook account as per usual. The first things on my newsfeed, to my surprise, were a series of statuses from the user “Brandeis Crushes AndCompliments.”

I moved my cursor and clicked onto the profile. “Brandeis Crushes AndCompliments” and I were not Facebook friends, but the user’s public privacy settings allowed me to see every detail on the page. The profile is run by an unnamed user, likely a fellow student. Included in the description is a submissions link, with the instructions as follows: “Write down anything nice you want to tell someone and we will post in on our page and tag that person. It is anonymous. GO!” As of Nov. 8, the account has gotten so many submissions that the administrator decided to switch it to a page in hopes of avoiding further bans for over-posting.

I am somewhat familiar with the idea of “crushes and compliments” online. The trend first began at Queen’s University in Canada in 2012, but has died down since then. The idea was to take a stance against cyberbullying and to brighten someone’s day with an anonymous compliment. Many college campuses, mainly in Canada and the United States, have followed Queen’s University’s lead by creating similar pages.

But is a Facebook account really the right way to spread love and positivity across Brandeis’ campus?

The boarding school I attended had a compliments page much like this one. One major difference between these two pages is that my boarding school had a population of 360 girls, hence fewer “friends.” The other is that the page often had to encourage students to submit compliments. Why? My school has fostered such a strong sense of community that we did not need to express our gratitude and appreciation for our faculty, staff and fellow classmates through a Facebook page. From freshman year to graduation day, we were constantly reminded how lucky we are to be a part of such a close-knit, loving group, that we should not take it for granted and that we should express our sentiments before it is too late. By the time I graduated, three years after I first stepped foot on campus, showing love and appreciation had become an innate activity.

If a group of 14-year-olds can openly show their care for the people around them through their words and actions, why can’t we? Brandeis is a relatively small school with roughly 3,500 undergraduates. Among those students are our friends, classmates, acquaintances and people we know only by face. There is no need for us to hide behind a computer or smartphone screen. We can show kindness through our everyday interactions and our words.

Over the past week, “Brandeis Crushes AndCompliments” has sparked a movement on campus to share our appreciation for our friends, classmates and even strangers. Let us continue to spread joy and positivity around campus, but this time, let’s do it in person.

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