Amid the increasingly prevalent stories about Facebook being used to bully teenagers or apply negative pressure against organizations comes a refreshing new trend: all over the U.S. and Canada, high schools and universities are setting up pages where students can give each other anonymous compliments.
Imagine, if you will, a social media world where instead of attacking each other, students leave each other notes like, "This is an appreciation post dedicated to your hair. Let us all marvel at its beauty."
It's being called reverse trolling -- or cyber-graciousness, if you prefer -- and there are nearly 100 pages like the one set up by Queens University, which asks students to "Spread happiness!" by sending in nice words about each other.
The Queens U Compliment page may have been the first of its kind, having been set up by four students several months ago as a sort of antidote to cyber-bullying. One of Queens U's co-founders says the page was intended to work like the movie Pay It Forward -- as in, it's a place to pay someone a compliment, and hope that they pay that forward for someone else.
A student named Eyal Hanfling noticed the complimenting trend, and started a page for his own school, Walt Whitman High. Within 24 hours, he had around 300 anonymous compliments to post for his fellow students, a responsibility that includes tagging the recipient without revealing the original source.
At first he was concerned he'd receive unkind comments:
I was really worried that people would take advantage of the system and write horrible things about their classmates and peers.
But as it turned out, only a few submissions were less than flattering:
Students were overachieving in the compliments. Someone would post a compliment, and someone else would post an even longer, even more supportive and even funnier compliment.
Hanfling had to shut down the Whitman Compliments page after four days, because he was spending the entirety of his evenings copying and pasting all the positive feedback. Sounds like a pretty good problem to have, doesn't it?
I love this idea, and I hope more and more such pages continue to pop up for schools and maybe even organizations. After all, whose day wouldn't be improved by an anonymous nice word or two? As an instructor from Michigan State University put it,
There is so much negativity today, whether you see it on TV or in movies or even in just personal relationships. This is like a breath of fresh air.
Have you heard of these "anonymous compliment" pages for schools? Do you think it's a good idea?
Image via Looking Glass/Flickr