Anonymous Instagram Posts and You!

Anonymous posts online reveal an ugly side to social life at Clark.


Alistair Borg, Contributing Writer

Anonymous confessions on the internet are nothing new, but some students are concerned that the posts about Clark are more harmful than they are funny.

Drama has circulated recently between various anonymous Instagram accounts and the students they interact with. Much of this drama highlights important issues within Clark’s social sphere, particularly through the undertones of negativity and classism found in many posts.

In one instance, a submitter to one of these accounts made claims of reverse racism, and that oppression of people due to whiteness is a real thing. That post immediately received backlash and prompted the moderator and account owner to add a “suggestion” section in the Google Form to which “confessions” are submitted, as a form for people to express their opinions or concerns about the account. The post has since been deleted.

Other posts can be very funny anecdotes. One person saying they clogged a bathroom in JC and ran away in panic, for example – something most people can laugh at in solidarity. Another post simply reads “cockroach” over and over, which gave me a good chortle.

These funny posts are unfortunately often heavily outnumbered by negative posts, though. In fact, many posts on these anonymous submission accounts are extremely negative.

This leads me to something I think we all need to hear: the student body at Clark University has internalized issues regarding race and class that must be confronted, and these issues are evident within the various anonymous Clark Instagram accounts.

Many white students treat students of color differently than they do their white peers, and many upper-class students act as though their standard of living is standard for others, too.

Efforts have been made at Clark to openly discuss these biases by Difficult Dialogues and other groups dedicated to facilitating discussion, but a lot more effort is required on an individual scale to deal with these internalized issues. People tend to be more afraid of being called racist or classist than they are afraid of actually being racist or classist.

Some students have submitted complaints to the @clarkuconfess account about the amount of negativity, saying that it makes them feel like they chose the wrong school, or that they will not make any friends at Clark due to an influx of posts complaining about unfriendly students.

Critics argue that these accounts illustrate that Clark students are cliquey, and may not even speak to you, unless you’re in their “original” friend group. I’ve heard  from and seen posts on the account from transfer students and first-years who are now much more nervous about making friends and enjoying their college experience here.

One student said that they were worried about coming off as “cringe,” which at first made me laugh as I often feel the same, but then I thought about the posts ostracizing people, and wondered if that person’s fear of being judged could be fueled in part by seeing Clarkies bash each other online. This was reaffirmed to me by a separate post where a student stated that they are relieved every time they do not see themselves being complained about.

On the other hand, there are posts talking about specific Clarkies – compliments, shout-outs, and messages saying they want to be friends – but often they are posts about physical attraction. These posts are not negative in tone, but some students have taken issue with the specificity of the posts, especially those that call out students by their full name. Ironically, these submissions concerned about name-dropping are often posted alongside more posts with names included, as the “missed connection” style posts outnumber the critical posts.

Some targets of anonymous call-outs featured on Instagram accounts like @clarkumissedconnections say that posts of this kind make them extremely uncomfortable because they have no idea who may be on the other end. One post from @clarkuconfess reads, “Just a thought: I don’t think it’s cool to explicitly state people’s name on here publicly (personal info, gossip etc.), unless they have implicitly given you permission to do so.”  

I have personally received a shout-out from the account and I was hoping the individual would talk to me in person after I commented on it, however the mystery of who it was still remains. It did not make me angry, but it definitely did make me think more about how I am perceived around campus, which can quickly impact my mental health.

If I was one of the people receiving them constantly, like some students are, I would be very self-conscious. Ideally, I wish we as a community would talk to each other more in-person rather than online. This is especially important when people are uncomfortable with their names being posted publicly, and many of these amorous posts tend to have no follow-up from the submitter.

Others say that they desperately want a shout-out, a desire likely kindled by certain posts about the physical attractiveness of a given Clark student. This may make people feel that if they are not featured in a post, then they are not liked by their peers, or are unattractive.

I think the issue that ties all of this together is the feeling of constant student-to-student surveillance around campus. Students want to be seen as “cool” by their peers, they want to be liked – and these shoutouts create a feeling of acceptance or rejection among the student body, not to mention that an anonymous individual is receiving gossip about many students who did not consent to being posted about.

In my opinion, it is not that Clarkies are cliquey, but more simply that we fall into routines. We make routines with our friends, and after a certain point, you do not need to make plans anymore, and making plans can be stressful.

Many students that I have spoken with want to branch out and befriend new people, but struggle out of shyness. I think maybe, just maybe, Clarkies are not rude, but quiet. Sometimes, this is taken personally and misconstrued by a small number of people whose voices are amplified by these accounts. I think it is very likely that most of these posts come from the same people, as they can be very similar in nature and echo similar thoughts.

The posts paint a very different picture from reality. In my experience, Clark students can be shy at first – but once you get us talking, you see that we have so many kind and vibrant people here.

And it’s not just the student body that can be harmed by anonymous posts. Many of these accounts make posts about the City of Worcester that echo classism and racism, typically sharing a theme of complaining about the locals. Specifically, they often target the locals who are people of color, and / or lower class.

I have noticed that students treat homeless people as though they are not people on their social media, saying how unsafe they feel just because a homeless person exists near them.

Overall, I think that the anonymous confession accounts don’t need to be so negative. The owners of the accounts should take into consideration what they post and be careful not to drop a 9-slide negativity bomb on our Instagram timeline.

More important than social media, I think we need to work harder as a community to make students of color feel more welcome on campus and communicate better face-to-face, rather than through anonymous posts.