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Apathy Shapes Popularity Of Media Trends

For The Heights

Published: Monday, January 28, 2013

Updated: Monday, January 28, 2013 00:01

Social media is more than just a tool for interaction—it’s also a medium for exchanging ideas, and by extension an expression of this epoch’s collective consciousness. In December a few new additions to the arsenal of social media innovations arose. Two worth noting are @BCFashionPolice on Twitter and Boston College Compliments on Facebook. The former acts largely as a medium for a select few, to post fashion-related observations anonymously, while the latter lets students send compliments about other students, faculty, or staff via private message. These compliments are then posted by the admins to the page so that it appears anonymously.

But what becomes evident almost immediately after seeing both pages is the contrast between the two. For instance, a representative tweet from BCFashionPolice reads, “I know it may seem like an exaggeration, but every time I see someone in Uggs, part of my soul dies,” whereas a post from BC Compliments looks more like, “Christine Dominas is the hardest working student i have ever met. her hair dazzles in the wind and sparkles in the sunshine. everyone should get to know her because everyone who meets her is flabbergasted. I LOVE YOU TINA.” Tweets from BCFashionPolice usually concern a condemnation of a fashion faux-pas, and Boston College Compliments usually praises sweetness and hard work to some degree, though in both cases there is variance.  

The BCFashionPolice twitter is praised and condemned to mixed effect. While some, like Ian O’Connell, A&S ’13, claim the Twitter account over-emphasizes aesthetics, and is, in general, nonsensically “mean,” others review the site positively because it’s funny. “The people attacking [BCFashionPolice] are making these grandiose statements about how it interferes with self-expression and people’s sense of identity—but those are all just grandiose statements,” said Ron Sommers, A&S ’13. “I think the criticism is melodramatic and [BCFashionPolice is] just a funny thing.”

Despite the debate on whether or not the account is good, BCFashionPolice is largely received as unrepresentative of BC’s student body. Jessica Yoon, A&S ’13, wrote an article for The Rock, a magazine maintained by BC students, condemning BCFashionPolice for its encouragement of social norms and aesthetic conformity. Yoon says that the Twitter account “purports to have knowledge of the school at large,” but fails to represent us accurately. Ron Sommers asserts that the account is supposed to be a “tongue-in-cheek” satire of BC—a “caricature of the rich white girl stereotype.” Sommers presumes that the people that run the account “realize how they come off,” and act intentionally.

Brian Park, A&S ’13, believes BC Compliments “inevitably turned into inside jokes” dispersed between what Sommers calls “platitudes and vague bullsh—t”. When asked why he thought that might be, Park hesitantly says, “I don’t know, honestly.” Presently there is confusion about the underlying mechanisms responsible for the depreciation of BC Compliments’ seemingly genuine effort to spread positivity, as well as confusion of its authority at all. “[Boston College Compliments] expresses an unnecessary need for approval from others,” O’Connell said. Yoon, though expressing a “strongly positive” opinion of BC Compliments, still doubts the legitimacy of the effort saying, “I’m not sure BC Compliments ever had that much clout. I mean, it’s a Facebook page.” Yoon proposes that a blog might be more effective for presenting genuine remarks of achievement.

The changing perception of BC Compliments remains largely unexplained. Some might argue that the page will soon become irrelevant, while others believe that it has already decreased in popularity. The sentiment, though noted, and perhaps commonly held, isn’t reflected on the page, which boasts several anonymous comments a day and has over 1,900 likes on Facebook.

In the distant hum of pieces of metal spinning, with words churning out onto the screen, from phones walking in and out of class, it’s our collective consciousness that seems to say “whatever,” “okay,” “everything—all of this, is okay or not, but who cares, I guess.” The beautiful part of social innovation rests in that mild and truly subliminal representation of who we are. Social media speaks for us and the things we care about and communally believe in, and when we listen closely to the motors in our computer humming we surely hear it say very little.

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