Anonymity ‘loosens the tongue,’ allows for truth
@Augiecon, the latest incarnation of a Twitter-based “college confessions” outlet catering to Augustana students, once again retreated into dormancy on Feb. 23, apparently due to pressure from the Augustana Student Association (ASA).
Did we lose anything of value? A cursory look at the feed would suggest not. It displays the rank underbelly of the student body, featuring mostly reports of stupid exploits and comments on the “hotness” of fellow students. These are thoughts which many students have but that most are prudent enough to leave unspoken. Compared to other social media, @Augiecon presents an unflattering sample.
But that’s okay.
Anyone passingly familiar with anonymity is aware that it loosens the tongue, particularly with respect to negative remarks. Ordinary conversation is skewed toward what people like to hear, so the suppressed leftovers are naturally less appealing. Speaking anonymously frees people to be more honest, and the price of honesty is that some of it will be brutal.
A danger of anonymity is that it also allows people to be dishonest with impunity. When a nameless voice defames a person, that person bears all the risk and is unable to directly challenge the source, who can choose whether or not to become invested. The administrator of @Augiecon understood this fact, and refused to publish comments attacking named individuals. But what was published still generated enough controversy that ASA thought it necessary to silence the feed.
However trivial the content may be, significant justification is required for demanding that it be shut down. I have seen none. So the students want to complain about the administration or brag about having sex in each academic building? Let them.
Granted, the feed might “make Augie look bad” if the person passing judgment is not familiar with the confessional genre. But the comments are actually coming from the minds of Augie students, and students bother to read them (the feed’s Twitter followers number more than 750, compared to a total student body of about 1,700). Apparently, we are that bad.
Rather than suppressing each other’s expression because we don’t like facing reality, we might accept the state of affairs and work to improve it — that is, after we’re done laughing. Humor is, after all, the primary purpose of @Augiecon, albeit more through schadenfreude than through farce.
Zack Truelson is a senior psychology major from Sioux Falls, S.D.
@Augiecon fails to entertain collegiate followers
I, like many of you, have a crippling addiction to social media. My death will probably be the direct result of my aimlessly stumbling into a busy crosswalk or lion’s den while reading my friend’s cousin’s opinion piece on Kanye’s daughter’s new line of snakeskin diapers. But despite how silly we look to our parents and our questionable use of such amazing technology, there’s no denying that it is, in fact, amazing technology.
Twitter in particular provides access to breaking news, thousands of jokes, and all of your friends’ horrible political opinions; if that wasn’t enough, it’s also all conveniently limited to a pithy 140 characters that even our hopelessly atrophied attention spans can comprehend.
The key to enjoying Twitter is choosing the right accounts to follow. A well-maintained timeline is free of the vapid ramblings of sub-par tweeters like Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian and everyone from your high school. To be worth following, an account has to have something to offer, be it comedy, interesting information or pictures of unlikely animal friendships.
This brings me to my main beef with the @Augiecon Twitter account. There are plenty of legitimate, meaningful reasons to take offense to @Augiecon: it glorifies questionable decision-making, it poorly represents Augustana students and it can serve as an anonymous avenue for levying some fairly heinous accusations. Those complaints are sort of a drag though, so I’ll found my argument on a much simpler basis: it simply isn’t very entertaining.
That isn’t to say there haven’t been redeeming moments; they certainly can’t be printed here, but there are the very occasional crude moments of hilarity. Unfortunately, these gold nuggets of comedy are so adrift in a sea of turds that they cannot be justified. The vast majority of the account’s tweets are uninspired recounts of sexual exploits, desperate pleas from the sad and horny, childish complaints, sweeping generalizations, a little racism and shout-outs to people with cool butts. Now I’m as pro-butt as the next guy, and those comments are good fun for the people mentioned and their friends, but the rest of the content just kind of bums me out.
The sexual comments tend to be either cringe-inducing or humorless boasting, and the desperation and complaints are seemingly straight out of an unpopular middle schooler’s blog, often taking the form of pathetic condemnations of whole groups on the basis of gender or whether they play sports.
It’s frankly just disappointing to see how a large group of alleged adults has used anonymity to revert to the petty, clique-based feuding and general immaturity that I’d thought we’d all put behind us ages ago.
Even the compliments are sad in a way. If someone’s so captivating that you’re compelled to tweet about them, maybe talk to them in person. Just use different language than you would on @Augiecon, obviously, or you’ll likely end up getting arrested.
Above all, the account makes me feel sorry for the Admin, its mysterious controller who chooses which confessions to post while adding quips of his or her own from time to time. Considering what we get to see, imagine the kind of trash that gets censored. The best clue to finding out the Admin’s identity is probably just determining the person who’s opinion of humanity has deteriorated the most since the account returned.
As a concept, I think college confession Twitter pages have a lot of potential. Partying mishaps, embarrassing sexual endeavors and critiques of college life are great fodder for comedy, and a college campus is sure to be full of fun and creative people who can make an account entertaining.
This particular campus, though, is failing to live up to that potential, so as of now, @Augiecon is simply not worth the follow.
Sam Williams is a freshman business and economics major from Watertown, S.D.