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Make your confessions mean something

By Ashley Gray, October 9 2014 —

U of C Compliments and U of C Confessions have unrealized potential. Anonymous people could be complimenting an exceptional employee or student, but instead they acknowledge “pink trainers in the gym” or confess their Thursden woes. These pages reach a lot of people and they should say something meaningful.

Both are independent Facebook pages run anonymously by students. Compliments highlights people who stand out on campus, while Confessions reads like a perverse version of Craigslist. You can submit your confession or compliment by messaging the administrators of these pages, where they post your message anonymously.

These pages should be a way to recognize amazing people on campus and lift their spirits. Instead, the posts are mostly compliments bordering on creepy voyeurism and numerous comment threads created by anonymous trolls who live to create drama.

They aren’t all bad. You have to dig through pages of inane comments, but there are times that these pages are put to good use.

Compliments to under-recognized support staff, shout-outs to MacHall employees and recognizing stand-out clubs are a much better use of this Facebook page.

Last year the U of C Compliments page and Metro made a resident superhero out of “Metro Man” for cheerfully delivering papers at the train station, rain or shine.

This is what these pages are good for. They use their massive reach to acknowledge stand-out individuals who don’t get enough recognition. But this rarely happens. Instead of talking about cool campus accomplishments, more time is spent on gossip.

The pages also function as a lost and found. Occasionally, compliments pop up for people who found an iPhone or a wallet. Other times, people ask for the return of lost items.

Lost item posts are not compliments or confessions. If you’ve misplaced something, I suggest you go to the lost and found. The University of Calgary has a variety of lost and found locations on campus where you can reclaim your item rather than relying on the kindness of strangers on the Internet.

Amidst thousands of posts, their influence can be lost in the digital kerfuffle. People who pine to have their names appear on either page might miss their compliment among thousands of others.

At the other end of the spectrum, the person who anonymously called them out has their hopes dashed of a reciprocal “like” or comment. Friends of the person mentioned may tag them, but this becomes a guessing game with anonymous posts.
And most people prefer compliments in person. Posting compliments about people you’ve seen in real life is a waste of time. Don’t hide behind your computer screen. Go talk to that girl in your stats lecture.

If compliments and confessions get lost to the Internet on a small scale, more important ones are misplaced as well. Posting about your favourite lecturer sounds like a good idea, but comments to professors are better placed elsewhere.

Admiring a lecture style on Facebook might cause a few more students to consider taking a class. But a review on ratemyprofessors.com or a nomination for a Teaching Excellence Award via the Students’ Union is more helpful to a professor’s career.

If you removed voyeuristic posts, trolls, lost and found items and compliments to professors, these pages would be pretty small. We can use these pages to prove what a great university community should look like.

But right now they aren’t being used well. There are inspirational people in the university who deserve the recognition. It would be nice to see fewer compliments for “the cute girl in the library wearing red pants” and more for those whose work is often unnoticed and underappreciated. Let’s elevate those who deserve it.

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