The Internet of yesteryear no longer exists, or at least that’s what we’ve heard. It used to be a hostile beast that would attack the hopeful pieces of information and commentary we’d put onto it. Now, instead of beating up on us, it nurtures us.
The latest news in support of this “New Niceness” comes in the form of university “compliments” Facebook accounts, to which students submit anonymous compliments about peers, and the accounts post them for their entire schools to see. The trend began at Canada’s Queen’s University in September, and since then, roughly 80 colleges and universities across the country and abroad have established such pages.
NYU appears to have tried to create a compliments account twice — one time being more successful than the other — but neither really took off, which has us thinking: With our immensity and overall lack of community, is it possible for NYU to have a successful Facebook compliments account?
It was four third-year students who created Queen’s University’s compliments account, which has posted an estimated 2,000 compliments in total. Having been inspired by a similar project at her high school in Ontario, education and history major Rachel Albi proposed the idea to her friends. They all liked the idea, especially since it falls in line with a recent initiative at their school. “Over the past couple years, Queen’s has been trying to promote healthy thinking,” Albi said. “We just wanted to support them with that.”
The initial reaction to the account was positive. The four students were interviewed by their university’s TV station, and they slowly, but steadily gained attention from there. But late last week, after TIME ran a feature on them, their popularity skyrocketed. “We never expected it to be this popular,” music major Erica Gagne said. “We just wanted to make people happy.”
Before last week, Queen’s University’s compliments account received around 100 messages per week. Now, they get over 150 per day. The four founders collectively spend eight hours managing the account each day.
Recently, the Queen’s founders have received a bit of backlash, mainly for their decision to reveal their previously anonymous selves by participating in various interviews. But they have no regrets. “The compliments are supposed to be anonymous, not us,” Albi said. “We’re just trying to get the message out to as many students as possible.”
NYU has a massive student body — roughly double the size of Queen’s University’s when it comes to total enrollment — and we’re notorious for our lack of community, so it doesn’t seem shocking that we haven’t been able to create a thriving Facebook compliments account as of yet. However, recent events have revealed that there may be hope for us. When the Replyallcalypse struck, our true, nurturing colors were shown. “I want all of us to be happy forever,” one student wrote.
On that note, we’re not so quick to dismiss the possibility of our own thriving compliments account — but we’re not holding our breath either.