December 10, 2021 | OPINION | By Karly Hamilton
“Boy at the Preserve today a little after noon wearing the long sleeve purple North Face shirt and grey 5 inch lulus. You’re cute.” “Saw two cute girls eating burgers at Benji’s for lunch today. Sat by the window. One wearing pj pants, other was in shorts.”
These are two of over 150 posts on the Colorado College missed connections (@cc.missedconnections) Instagram account — an account dedicated to sharing anonymous submissions from members of the campus community. While the content of the posts can vary, many are related to describing interactions with specific individuals.
The account started with ambiguity from two sides, the person submitting the post and the person the post referred to. However, this quickly changed as names started appearing in posts, removing a layer of privacy for those mentioned.
Frequently, I see posts from the account and think nothing of it, it’s just harmless fun. Other times, posts come across in a harsher manner and I pause and think about what I just read. For me, the difference between a harmless post and a harmful one comes down to one deciding factor — the involvement of names.
I only know so many faces at CC, and even fewer names. But when I see a new post from the account, more often than not, I recognize the names being used.
While the content is often positive, it still feels like an invasion of privacy reading about people’s personal lives, especially since they don’t necessarily know that information about them is being shared through the account. On one hand, some submissions are likely sent in by friends of the people mentioned, which could be seen as playful, but there is no way to know if this is always the case.
I can only speak for myself, but I would not enjoy my private life being broadcast to the account’s hundreds of followers — by friends or otherwise. In an ordinary setting, I would argue that whoever makes the statement is what matters. Due to the anonymous nature of the account though, this is impossible to verify.
A missed connection from Dec. 6 said “I submitted a ccmissedconnections about myself just to feel wanted lol.” This submission shows that there is no way to source a connection; they can be submitted by anyone, about anyone.
The anonymity involved in the account makes it a safer and more open space for people to share their thoughts, and that certainly has its benefits.
One post reads, “the blonde kid w bangs who is a freshman living in south that plays rugby and eats at [Rastall’s] all the time needs to HMU!!!! He had a little strip of hair cut in the back of his head from the rugby hair cuts. You are beautiful and I love your smile. I’m shy but I hope we can meet soon!!!!”
Assuming this post was sent in by someone who did not previously know the individual, the account was able to provide an environment where they felt safe and comfortable sharing their thoughts without needing to directly interact with the subject. In this way, I see the benefits of the account.
Alternatively, posts stating that one person “needs to stop sleeping with” another individual on campus don’t appear to benefit anyone. Instead, the people mentioned in the post now have details about their personal life out there for anyone to see.
Since there isn’t a way to identify who is submitting posts, it is hard to know what people are comfortable seeing about themselves on the account. But then again, including sources of information would defeat the purpose of an anonymous account.
At the end of the day, one question remains: does the account do more harm than good? As of now, it does not seem like the account is having a substantial impact, positive or negative. The long-term impact, though, is still yet to be seen.