The Facebook post read as follows: “Zari Press goes out of her way to be nice to everyone and I think she’s just the coolest.”
By all accounts, Zari Press, Friends School senior and class co-president, does seem like a nice girl. Nonetheless, the flattering words appear somewhat out of character for a Facebook post written by a teenager.
Facebook, after all, has earned the infamous reputation as the social media outlet of choice for teens intent on slinging insults at their peers. When taken to extremes, this form of cyber bullying results in some damaging consequences to defenseless targets—ranging from deep humiliation to emotional damage; even suicide.
As cowards usually do, ‘cyber bullies’ act anonymously. But now, in a positive turn of events, come reports of high school and college students posting Facebook messages anonymously about their peers. Only this time, they’re all good.
These messages are called, aptly, ‘compliments’ pages. The first one appeared last year, when four undergraduates at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada set up a profile page on their university’s Facebook page, to which students anonymously submit compliments about classmates.
Just a few weeks ago, Friends Upper School students began receiving anonymous compliments via the Frendz Skool Compliments Facebook page, causing a buzz on the Baltimore campus as classmates try to figure out who’s behind the kind gesture.
“When it first started I messaged the people who run it offering my help and RAK’s support, but they said they would like to remain anonymous,” said Press, who is in the RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) club at Friends.
“It has to be more than one person,” she guessed, since to date over 550 compliments have been posted to the compliments page. “We think it’s a group of students, probably underclassmen, who have more time on their hands [than seniors] to take this task on,” she said.
Whoever is responsible, it appears they’ve become trendsetters in the Baltimore independent school community. Neighboring girls school Bryn Mawr just launched a Facebook compliments page of its own. If the momentum continues, perhaps it will eventually override the terrible insults that too many teens have taken to tapping out on their keyboards.
“The Frendz Compliments page is a normal part of Friends School life now,” Press said.
Compliments Facebook pages have caught on nationwide. Yale, Princeton, and Columbia Universities are said to house some of the largest compliments pages; Johns Hopkins has an active site as well. More recently, the idea has spread to high schools across the country.