Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
It’s the twenty-first century, the age of social media — which also brings forth the coming age where you can find out anything and everything about almost any person, place, or thing with a quick click or tap of a touch screen. Take a scrolling stroll through a person’s Facebook timeline or Twitter favorites and you can find out a lot about someone. Although the housing admins tell us not to over-analyze our peers and roommates before getting to meet them in the scary place known as the real world, we inevitably creep and stalk others’ online presences.
That also means that people are tracking OUR internet footprints. So here we are, deleting old statuses dAt Lo0Ked lyk d1sss$s and untagging ourselves from every one of those middle school scene selfies — you know, those pictures edited on picnik with the dinosaur clipart stickers and “best friends circa 1996” in green piloww font.
Like any college with internet access and an administrative team that uses “The Google,” Swarthmore invites us to join the *OFFICIAL* Swarthmore Class of 2018 Facebook page; our hearts say yes, but are our virtual selves ready?
I joined the group a bit later than everyone else, after most all the ED kids finished introducing themselves with the typical “Hey everyone! My name is *insert name which showed up six words before* I’m from here, and I’m interested in this, that, and those. I’m addicted to coffee, and Netflix is lyf. I like to have fun, but I’m serious about school too. I also need a gym buddy because the Freshman 15 is a no-no!” schpeels. Come on, us Swatties need more depth and imagination. Yes, we know your favorite ice cream flavor, but what about your dreams? Your ambitions and aspirations?
People always say how first words leave lasting impressions. Well, for what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure I tried harder on that intro than I did the entire second semester of senior year. How does one come off as friendly and interesting without looking too overeager!? Is two exclamation marks too much?? How many “ha”s are “social media”-ly acceptable? Of course, none of that matters in determining a future friend or foe.
While creeping through others’ posts and profiles, trying to find potential best friends/roommates/lovers/people to ask for math help/etc., we come across a few matches. Comments that emulate our feelings of “OMYGOD WE LIKE THE SAME MUSIC/BOOK/MUSICAL/OBSCURE TV SHOW/FOOD LET’S BE FRANDZ OKOK” spark the beginning of glowing friendships.
However, some people’s impression aren’t as lighthearted. I felt a flicker of alarm when I realized how absolutely fascinating everyone else on the page is, while I’m here deciding if I should finish the season of HIMYM on Netflix (the obvious answer is yes). But how do these people sound so impressive and amazing? Even their names seem exotic, cancer-curing, global harmony-bringing, or future PhD material. And then there’s me, announcing my triangle and tambourine skillz on the searching for jam sesh buds thread and answering the “What HP house would you be in?” question with Hagrid’s hut.
Leaving and reading smart-ass comments on people’s post is pretty entertaining, until you remember that you’re actually going to this school now and will definitely see these people again. Whoopsies. But yay to seeking social acceptance via social media! Oh hi you beautiful soul, you like my comment? Well I like you too man. We can totally be friends. Rock on m/
And then come the Facebook friend requests. Burning with enthusiasm and excitement, we “friend” everyone in the group. About halfway through the class list, there comes that “oh no!” moment when you realize how awkward it will be if you meet these people on campus and don’t recognize them, introduce yourselves, go on Facebook to add each other, and see that you’re already friends. Oops. At a school of about 1600 and a class of 400 some, could we actually run out of people to meet?
And, of course, as with all college Facebook group pages, there are the shameless twitter handle/Instagram/snapchat/myspace/AIM username drops. (pssttt @LES_than3 and thewanderer101 follow me online, not in real life) No shame and no judgment right.
#Swat18 not only finds fabulous fellow freshmen followers, but also finds upperclassmen seeking new members for all the clubs they lead. Aggressive club advertisers search to snag a new freshman class that’s fresher than a breath mint. Some are more successful, seeing how I’m here writing this right now— trying not to write a stereotypical “worried about lack of sleep/time/sanity” article (THOUGH I AM VERY MUCH CONCERNED ABOUT THOSE THINGS, BUT AREN’T WE ALL). Thankfully, these learned experts are Wint-o-Green Lifesavers in helping us figure out forms, housing, packing, and anything we’d need to know about starting this new chapter in life!
Disregarding the blubs of shallow social media anxiety, giddy nervous excitement, and overwhelming confusion, college will definitely be a time for new beginnings, frandz, Facebook, and of course, newfound freedom.