A girl crying in a bathroom stall. A student who can’t park. Teammates, friends, strangers, romantic interests and peers. They are all seemingly unrelated at first glance, but take a look on Facebook and you’ll see that these people have more in common than you think.
Students have gathered on the social networking site to pay compliments to their peers through the public page “CLU Compliments.”
Since its creation in early February, CLU Compliments has amassed more than 1,200 likes, that’s about a quarter of the undergraduate population on campus.
Students send messages to the page, which are then anonymously posted for followers to see. They can then tag the subject of the posts if the message is directed toward a particular person.
Ryan Medders, CLU professor of communication, says that this kind of give-and-take interaction among students may be able to work to counteract harassment on the Internet.
“Cyber-bullying is a growing national problem, and pages likes these are a great opportunity for communities like ours to make a positive and local impact on that front,” said Medders.
Although there are certain suggestive and funny postings that are generally meant to entertain followers, CLU Compliments mostly features messages that are inspiring and touching to readers.
Senior Ashley Szanter believes that since CLU Compliments are anonymous, posters gain the courage to say things they otherwise wouldn’t.
“The anonymity gives them the ability to say what they need to say, but without having the crippling fear of rejection or denial,” said Szanter.
It is because of this anonymity that students are able to send messages to their best friends, crushes and to people they pass by on campus that inspire kindness and joy.
“Having a place or a forum where we can go to just see that there are people on campus that are still nice and that still like each other and still want to make each other feel good about one another…I definitely think students will gravitate towards that,” said Szanter.
Senior Jacob Garcia said that he was surprised by the outpouring of kindness that was spreading itself across his news feed. A social media intern, Garcia is certain that media pages like CLU Compliments are going to further unify the campus.
“Once the page started, I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be a joke. No one’s going to take it seriously.’ But then the likes started coming in and as the comments started being posted… more people started connecting to it,” said Garcia.
This recent media trend was adopted from other, much larger universities where anonymity is more easily achieved, but this fact does not seem to hinder student involvement here at CLU.
“I’m pretty sure people are checking their phones every three hours just to see if there’s a compliment about them,” said Garcia.
But even students who have never dedicated a compliment or received one themselves are still reading updates. Sometimes students go so far as to offer their friendship to students they have never met.
The recognition and value of the messages mean a great deal to students like Garcia. He says that the fact that people he doesn’t know are acknowledging him brings a unique sense of gratitude and validation for the work he puts in both in and out of the classroom.
“I never knew people saw me that way,” said Garcia. “I put myself out there, and people noticed.”
Whatever varying appeal CLU Compliments holds for students, they seem to agree that sometimes, it’s satisfying to be good to one another.
Published March 6, 2013