Smith Online: When College and Computers Collide

Mia Council ’16
Assistant Features Editor

“I can’t be with a person who can’t talk to me outside of the Internet, romantically or otherwise,” said Jocelyn Proietti ’16, shaking her head definitively. Proietti, in bright blue socks and Doc Martens, was discussing her experience with Smith Confessional, a message board fueled by random threads and comments, and I Saw You Smith, a missed connections blog on Tumblr, two Smith-centered websites arranged around anonymous input from students.

“Why don’t they just come up to me? Why am I even something you want to talk about?” asked a bemused Proietti, who was named on a thread entitled “Hottest First Years” on Smith Confessional and has had “two or three” I Saw You Smith posts written about her.

However, the positive comments aren’t the only thing Proietti has dealt with; the Smith Internet community has treated her badly as well.

“My friend Kayra and I made up a few fake posts about our friends on I Saw You Smith, but then it came to the point where people were talking about us on Smith Confessional and saying that we had no right to use it and that the site wasn’t a joke and these two ‘first years from Cushing’ – it got really specific, and one person threatened to, and I quote, ‘drop names.’ It was really dramatic for them, which was kind of hilarious to me,” Proietti recounted.

Proietti looked around the WOZQ station she was seated in and shrugged her shoulders. “I have mixed feelings about Smith Confessional. It can be extraordinarily hurtful at times, but it can also be a nice place. It all depends on how people use it.”

The prevalence of Smith Internet options has boomed over the past few years. Previous ventures have included the long-defunct but never forgotten Daily Jolt and Smith ACB, while more recently popular options include Smith Professor Quotes, Overheard At Smith, Smithie Secrets and of course the college’s two standouts – I Saw You Smith and its more controversial Internet peer, Smith Confessional.

Deanna Williams ’16 had never heard of Smith Confessional, but she gave I Saw You Smith a verbal side-eye. “Sometimes it’s cute. Like when people are like, ‘Oh, hooray for the crew team, I see you winning a race,’ then that’s nice. But when girls write in and say, ‘I see you, description description, you’re so cute, I hope you’ll see me next time,’ I’m thinking, ‘What the **** is this ****?’”

Smith Confessional “makes Smith smaller,” according to Catherine Cain ’16. “I think it encourages the social hierarchy we have at Smith, and making BDOCs [Big Dykes On Campus] into celebrities on campus, and all that. It’s a place where people can come together to stay in the Smith bubble.” There are also occasional positives to Smith Confessional and I Saw You Smith. “It can be nice, when you come home from break and you want an instant connection to Smith,” continued Cain. “But I never really go on any of the Smith websites. It’s not something I do on my own.”

Kitty Lombard ’13 took a more negative view. “I think any time you have something anonymous on the Internet, it brings out the worst in people. I think it’s probably the same 15 people making [stuff] up. I know like four people that have ever written on it, and they just write things and hope to start [drama]. Personally, I don’t like it.”

On the other hand, Lombard approves of I Saw You Smith “because it’s well edited, but it’s like Craigslist Missed Connections – it’s awkward, but it’s funny to read. I think Smith Compliments [an anonymous Facebook page just for named compliments] is best because it’s all positive.”

Although the threads and comments on Smith Confessional admiring or insulting other students get the most attention, students also use the site to ask the world about house communities, lunch, asexuality and the mysteries of Green Street. On Smith Confessional’s more irritating side, students rant about privilege, call other students out, “troll” frequently and more often than not, take the time to objectify one another.

Occasionally, threads also devolve into ugliness, as when a “Thin privilege?” thread filled up with fat-phobic comments, or another incident when a thread named a student as a drug dealer and mocked her “moldy weed.”

Whether or not the Smith’s Internet world will shrink or grow is up in the air, but trends seem to indicate that the technology boom that has eclipsed our century extends to the world confined by the Grecourt Gates as well. It seems doubtful that a shift will come any time soon, or that students actually want one. After all, it’s Smithies who keep posting and looking. According to Smith Confessional’s own tagline, with “2470 secrets, 28588 comments and counting,” it’s safe to say the site isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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