Opinion: Facebook page is something to laugh at, though maybe not a laughing matter
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 00:03
Last week, The Huffington Post posted an article that went viral. It was about a Facebook page for UC Berkeley students to anonymously post stories of sexual encounters in an attempt to find the partner for whom, through unforeseeable circumstances or intoxication, they had no contact information. The stories are placed in a Google document. And an administrator goes through and posts the stories to the Facebook page. Despite the site’s original, moderately pure intentions, it has since devolved into students posting their raunchiest sex stories from around campus.
As it turns out, UConn has a similar Facebook page for students to post their very explicit and very graphic escapades, that began around the same time. While the UConn page doesn’t have the more than 2,000 subscribers that UC Berkeley’s page has, it has almost twice as many stories. Earlier this week the UConn page had roughly 250 subscribers. That number has since doubled, possibly as a result of the UC Berkeley page going viral.
This page, and others like it, can be a lot of fun, especially if you know the locations in question. Many who read this column will no doubt run to their Facebook accounts and look through the dirty details of UConn’s untold sexual exploits and debacles. They’re wide-ranging and not sexual orientation-specific. However, before people do so, it’s important to understand a few drawbacks that come with such a raw site concept.
First of all, the posts are anonymous, and there seems to be no attempt to check the validity of the stories. That sounds fine in principle, since a page called “UConn Hookups” isn’t exactly expected to hold up to journalistic or factual standards. Consider, however, stories like the one currently labeled No. 20 on the anonymous Facebook page, in which a young woman claims to have been walked in on by a professor during a sexual encounter with a TA. The reason that no one is up in arms over this story is because the odds are good that it is not true. That is not to say that people need all of their comedic sex stories to be 100 percent provable and factual. But, with a story as possibly scandalous as this one and others on the page, the anonymity of the site could be called into question by higher authorities at some point.
The biggest problem that comes with pages like this is already happening at UC Berkeley. In the states of California and Connecticut, there is no such thing as giving consent while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. So it is important to remember that, in the strictest legal definition, many stories on the UConn Hookups Page are about rape. To be clear, that isn’t to suggest that those who wish to post or have posted to this page are guilty of rape or anywhere close to it. It is simply something to consider when trying to enjoy the UConn or UC Berkeley Hookups pages on Facebook.
The bottom line with pages like these, which exist at other schools as well, is that they’re a lot of fun. The UConn memes page took the campus by storm last year with its breakout popularity. These viral pages can be a source of amusement. However, the UConn Hookups page should raise a few red flags to students who might not want to walk such a fine line of legality and appropriateness. How long can anonymity protect readers or, worse, the subjects of the stories? Will the authorities get involved when stories walk the line of legality? Can these accounts even be trusted? Is this tarnishing UConn as an educational institution? No one can say. What is certain is that the page is rapidly growing and the posts keep coming. It isn’t foolish to think that, at some point soon, someone will cross the line. With stories like this, the stakes of something going wrong with a page like this are unacceptably high. The UConn Hookups page shouldn’t necessarily be condemned. Having said that, no one deserves to have his or her reputation, education or life ruined over a laugh.