February 20, 2014
Last Tuesday, Hamilton College was joined to the Friendsy network.Friendsy is a type of social network that allows students within a college to anonymously communicate their interest for friendship, a hook-up or a date with other people from their college. A catch that you learn late is that once your profile is set up, you cannot delete it.
Out of curiosity, I, like many other Hamiltonians, made a Friendsy profile for myself without really knowing what it is. Once on the website, I played around with it. I added a picture and the default information: class year and major. For a few days, I completely forgot about Friendsy until I got an email proclaiming, “Hi Hristina, you have a date request!” At first, I just stared at the screen not knowing how to react; never had it crossed my mind that I would get an email like that.
I opened up Friendsy, finally read the instructions that said all requests (friend, hook-up or date) are anonymous unless both parties express the same interests, and decided to play along and see what happens. Honestly, I was very curious, and so I did the only thing I could: I requested a hint. A few hours later, I got a notification revealing the class year of my “date requestor” and a new hook-up request (I won’t even begin to comment that the “request” part makes me sound like I am an item for bid on eBay).
Then it hit me: Have our social skills degraded so much that we need an entire online network to express our interest in other people? After all, there are approximately 2,000 students at Hamilton and we like to think that we are the best and the brightest, the future of the world. Indeed, when I am on the Hill, I am fascinated daily by the conversations people have ranging from socioeconomic issues to finance to literature and art to trivia. Students here are undoubtedly smart and knowledgeable. What bothers me, especially after my own experience with Friendsy, is the question of why Hamilton needs it. It is not like we live miles and oceans away from each other and require a virtual tool to communicate. For better or worse, we can easily see close to half of our friends and acquaintances on Martin’s Way around noon, not to mention that we for the most part end up partying on the weekends with the exact same people.
We are part of Generation Z, and most of us are used to relying on technology for pretty much all mundane tasks in our everyday life. Still, when it comes down to relationships, whether they are romantic or not, things ought to be different.
Because of networks like Friendsy that hide the identity of admirers and/or potential friends, we become lazy in our communications. It is easier to sit behind a computer and click “send a date request,” than to physically ask the question, but what is easier is rarely the best. When you do not have the guts to approach people and, if not tell them, at least show them how you feel, they never get to know. Moreover, the likelihood of being matched with someone you admire is far slimmer. Voicing and/or showing affections for someone can be scary, but it can also be exhilarating, we should all know that bubbly feeling in your stomach when you start a conversation and the nonsense coming out of your mouth which you would in no other situation say or better yet, the lack of any words at all. Yes, putting yourself out there does not guarantee you anything and yes, there is a 50 percent chance you will get rejected, but it takes a whole lot more than a rejection to break your heart. Plus, remember that there is also a 50 percent chance that the other person feels the same way, or is at least open to getting to know you better!
When you look back at your college life in ten years, the funniest and dearest memories will be those like “that one time I told a guy I liked him and he just stared at me without saying anything.” The memories that you will enjoy the most are the ones that helped you become the person you are today, and you wouldn’t know how to interact with attractive people.
To all of you who, like me, already have a Friendsy account, mark it as spam mail and forget it exists; to those of you who don’t yet have an account, I advise you not to create one. Instead, face your fears and show your feelings. Be confident men and women, and put yourself out there. I assure you, you will be surprised by how many people want to see you for who you are.