Social Media’s Role in the CA Community

Meera Singh '19

Social media is a platform that allows us to share almost anything. Here at CA, we use it to share content that is either personal, political, or community related. Students have created multiple anonymous Instagram accounts over the last few years: @stufachacks, which posted uncommon, easy Stu-Fac recipes; @overheardatca, which posted out-of-context quotes from the student body; and @dogsofconcord, which featured CA’s favorite campus dogs.

At the end of November, a new anonymous account called @dearteenageboysofca began requesting to follow many CA students. Its bio was short and to the point: “we’re fed up. [direct message] us.” The first and only post on the page was a photo of many CA boys in the SHAC gym, and the caption underneath read “dear boys, this one’s for you and only you. love, ya girls.” The post was deleted soon after and replaced with an apology, stating that the original intention was for the account to be a safe place to empower girls and allow them to anonymously share their experiences with boys at CA, and it was not in anyone’s interest to create an exclusive account that only represented white, cisgender, straight, female students. A day later, the account was permanently deleted.

This isn’t the first time that CA has seen a somewhat similar Instagram page. Last year, @dearwhitepeopleofca was created, and focused on educating students with questions about race rather than publicizing anonymous experiences with white people at CA.

Publishing an anonymous opinion on one of these pages will backfire, as the community is so small that anyone involved in the incident that was shared will know exactly who submitted it to the account. The illusion of anonymity provided by social media has made it much easier to say anything to anyone. Many of us, including myself, have used social media to voice opinions that we do not realize can be hurtful. These posts can be impulsive, accidental, or even come from lots of thought. Ultimately, we are attached to anything we post online, contributing to how we are perceived, and we are not always seen the way we want to be seen. Sometimes we feel as if we are sharing some unspoken universal truth, but in reality it only applies to a select few. Our phones can only shield us so much, and if you are an active social media user, backlash of some form from your peers is likely to be inevitable. There are more productive ways to begin conversations than calling people out over the internet.

So, what are some other ways that we can have these important conversations? Ideally we would talk to each other directly in person, whether it’s one-on-one or in a big group discussions, like an Inclusion Council meeting. One important lesson I have learned from using social media is that pretty much nothing will solve itself through vague posts on the internet, and it is much more productive to have face-to-face conversations. It’s time to realize that our phones do not give us a protective mask.