Students share love, secrets, compliments on Facebook

Facebook pages rise in popularity, posting students' confessions

· February 12, 2013, 1:37 am

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If chocolate hearts and candygrams aren’t your thing for Valentine’s Day, two new Facebook pages may provide the solution to your heart’s woes.

Penn Admirers and Penn Secrets are taking a new approach to relationships and communication. Admirers was founded Jan. 6 and Secrets was started on Jan. 24.

“Reading these, you see that everyone’s really having the same experiences as you are. That’s what I think is special about Penn Admirers,” said a Penn Admirers representative, who wished to remain anonymous for the sake of the page. “You feel connected to your community in a way you never have before.”

Wharton sophomore Alex Wiggins had another hypothesis about the widespread popularity of these pages. “I think since we live in such an Internet culture that it’s very natural to communicate through the computer, on many levels,” she said. “People love to be complimented or told that they are liked. So when someone does that publicly, especially when it may be someone you don’t know very well, it makes the compliment receiver feel really good inside.”

Both pages work in the same way as others have worked in the past — readers submit candid comments or stories to the page through a private message or Tumblr, and then the page puts them up anonymously.

Penn Admirers and Penn Secrets are only a few of the pages that exist — a short list includes Penn Compliments, Penn Backhanded Compliments, Penn Casual Remarks, Penn Insults and Penn Hearts.

Admirers and Secrets, however, are notable for being the first since Compliments to achieve traction on Facebook.

Admirers

Today, Admirers has at least one post per day that nets 50-plus likes, the most popular being post 728 with over 390 likes as of press time — “To the Penn police, standing days and nights outside in this freezing weather for our safety. In the name of the whole community of Penn: a big THANK YOU.”

The page now has 2,439 friends, and receives up to 35 posts a day.

Penn Admirers started the page one day after seeing a similar page from another school. “Over winter break, I saw a Columbia Admirers post through a friend who shared it. I was really surprised no one had done it yet at Penn,” she said.

Traffic took a little while to start, she said, but after about two weeks, it was large enough that she could “let the page grow organically.”

Penn Admirers manages the page with little difficulty. However, there is the occasional executive decision to not share a post. “I do [filter], but surprisingly not as much as I thought I would. Mostly overly sexual stuff, or posts that would make the tagged person feel uncomfortable,” she said.

Secrets

Penn Secrets also started small. “It was just a whim really,” the trio behind the page, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said. “We were sitting in a GSR in Huntsman one day trying to work and started talking about Penn Compliments … we just thought Penn Secrets would be a funny thing to start.”

Secrets also gets around 25 posts per day and filters the posts on similar criteria to Admirers. However, there’s no collaboration between the two. “We’ve gotten messages from a couple of them [other Penn pages], but we don’t actually know each other,” Penn Secrets said.

Compliments was seen as encouraging and supporting other students. Secrets, however, said themselves that they show “the more irresponsible side.”

Increasing popularity

The trio said that Penn Secrets’ strength may come from the depth of the posts. There are revelations on the page from people about virginity, sexual orientation, social exclusion, Greek life and discrimination to Wharton students.

“I think the reason Secrets’ pages are popular with schools like Penn or other Ivies is that people enjoy seeing the other side of schools like that …judging by the secrets we get, everyone here is just as sex-crazy, boy-crazy, girl-crazy, weird as everyone else, if not more,” Penn Secrets said.

The creators are surprised by the growth of their page. “We’re a little surprised that it caught on so fast. We kind of figured we’d get a couple [posts] occasionally and it would mostly be a funny thing between us. I think it might be sustainable if we keep up with our system of only posting the most interesting secrets.”

Pointing to the success of other schools’ Secrets pages, such as New York University’s, Penn Secrets believes that they “have some time.”

Similarly, Penn Admirers sees her page growing more in the future. “It’s still in the growth stage, definitely. Penn is a huge school,” she said.

Despite her confidence in its growth, being a senior, Penn Admirers is worried about appointing a successor, calling it “the question of the semester.”

One question that remains is why Penn students aren’t taking these interactions into the offline world. Engineering freshman Kelvin Wang offered his thoughts, “as social as Penn is, I think sometimes they’re too shy to actually talk to the person. Also, if you don’t know the person’s name, it’s hard to catch up and get that chance to talk to them again,” he said.

For now, an anonymous Facebook message remains the mode of communication.

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