Online Campus Gossip Still Strong After Juicy Ran Dry

Reputations are once again no longer safe.  Facts are once again less than sacred.  Innuendo is once again in.  As The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported, “They’re Back, and They’re Bad: Campus-Gossip Web Sites.”

While JuicyCampus, the equally loathed-and-loved “virtual campus grapevine,” shuttered its site in February, a few other entrants are happily enabling students to continue spreading the word about anyone and anything, truth be damned.  CollegeACB (Anonymous Confessions Board) is one.  A higher-profile new player is the not-so-subtly-named Campus Gossip, which implores its potential participants “Go ahead, tell it like it is…always 100% anonymous….”

Here are a few posts from the site in the past few days (with names changed): “So i met jane smith (sophmore?) a few days ago and i think she is f*cking hot/really chill…butttt i have heard some things. anyone have any info?”; “Porn ‘star’ goes to seton hill: Jane Smith spent her summer modeling. At least that’s what she told everyone. Google “Janey Smith” to find out what she was really up to. I’m sure her parents are very proud. But lets be honest. She was a whore before, so at least now she’s getting paid for it.”; and “I got VD from the Dean of Students. Pass it on.”

Others are interested in the legality angles, the possible sexual harassment issues or the woe-is-our-society critiques.  I find the sites intriguing as cultural arbiters of our repressed need to scream and shout and besmirch and smear under the cover of anonymity but before a potentially international audience.  Sure, it could be argued that these sites are simply new platforms for one of the oldest human trades, but they are different in that what they feature can stay etched into our reptuation (i.e. our Google prints i.e. the very core of our identities) far longer and far stronger than any spoken or even printed gossip of the past.

Are we becoming more cowardly (the phrase “say it to my face” almost sounds quaint nowadays)?  Are we simply more venomous or vindictive?  Are we more casual with the truth?  Are we more inclined to sensationalize?  Are we more cut-off and in turn more unfeeling to our fellow man?  Do we simply want to be heard (and do these anonymous posters even care if anyone is reading/listening)?

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