This academic year may well be remembered as the year that the concept of the anonymous Facebook group took over.
It started some time ago with Overheard at Lancaster, that once slightly humorous collection of things overheard on the spine which has now turned into an overwhelmingly deleterious and generally loathsome record of the boring, the trivial, and the downright offensive. While not anonymous, it started a trend which has blossomed this year.
Next came OMG Lancaster Uni Confessions. “Tell us your most disgusting, hilarious, embarrassing confessions from Lancaster Uni,” it asks. In a perhaps expected turn of events, after an initial period of possibly being regarded as amusing, it has now become overwhelmingly boring, trivial, and offensive.
The most obvious example of this fad losing steam is the recent criticism of Sugarhouse student staff members on the page. The anonymous concept is understandable if you are, as the page asks, writing in a “confession.” But when you are writing in purely to criticise a group of students in the work that they do, whether paid or voluntary, the anonymous concept becomes pure cowardice.
And now, in this term, we have seen a rapid increase in the number of these pages. “Things Lancaster Students Don’t Say” has admittedly proven to yield a little more humour than the others, but has on occasion become an outlet for xenophobia and borderline racism.
Finally, we were blessed with “Lancaster University Tell Her/Tell Him.” Other than the obvious copyright implications of the odd decision to the use the official logo of the University as the page’s cover photo, it is clear that the page existed for no concept other than anony- mous harassment at best, bullying at worst.
The page actively encouraged people to send in comments that “you wouldn’t say to someone’s face,” and would not publish said comments without the name of the intended target. I will not listen to anyone who tries to convince me that that is not harassment.
Why would anyone think it is even slightly appropriate to publish negative comments about a named individual that you don’t have the bollocks to say to their face on a page with a potential audience of thousands? This is the epitome of cowardice.
Thankfully, at the time of writing, the page has disappeared. I’d like to think the idiot that thought the page to be something worth setting up saw sense and deleted it before the inevitable harassment complaints, but somehow I doubt it.