T wo weeks before we stepped on campus, Under the Button introduced the Class of 2018 to the rest of Penn. Or rather, they introduced the most vocal members of our Facebook group via an article called “The Top 10 Most Unforgivable Penn ’18 Posts.”
The article itself was hilarious, mainly because the posts were downright obnoxious. In the group’s short life span, there have been a lot of unfortunate moments, from the guy who posted a photo of a girl’s chest with the caption “Penn :D” to the fights that broke out over everything from women’s rights to the 4.5 credit limit for first semester College students (to everyone who wanted to petition the College to let us take more courses: Please, slow down). Even the Accepted! Class of 2018 Tumblr, a blog chronicling the most heinous posts in accepted student Facebook groups, gave us a special shoutout, saying, “Penn’s definitely got the weirdest class.”
While the UTB article’s gotten a lot of campus-wide attention — a sophomore friend quickly texted me after the article went up, “You don’t post on the Facebook page, right?” — in the group itself, many people have expressed regret. A few commented that they were just “over-eager and excited” when they posted, something all of us can relate to. As the article said, “What you write on the internet lives on forever.” A lot of people in my class are realizing the truth in those words.
As fun as it is to call people out for being jerks online, it’s time to put an end to this — not just ridiculing the Facebook group, but relying on it at all. Just like everyone knows that one girl who looks nothing like her profile picture, it’s difficult to gauge someone’s true personality online. We told each other stories, we made each other laugh and cry, but the Facebook message you sent that guy three months ago is not a proper introduction. I learned more about my roommate in the first five minutes of meeting with her than I did from weeks of emailing her. When it’s time for face-to-face contact, all social media preconceptions are off. Let’s not act on judgments formed before we even met each other.
What’s more, many of us have changed since we were accepted. I’m not the same person I was in December; hell, I’m not even the same person I was in April. We shouldn’t hold each other accountable for the mistakes we made in high school. For some of us, that includes Facebook posts.
That kid who posted a baby photo of himself in a Penn onesie? Maybe he’ll be your best friend. The girl with the Pretty Little Liars obsession? She could be your lifeline in Math 104 (and hey, don’t be hating on PLL). While I rarely posted on the Facebook group, I empathize with those who did. We’ve all acted stupidly before, and it’s difficult to confront our own digital word vomit.
I’m grateful to the Facebook group for the connections it gave me. I bonded with a girl from Texas over our mutual love for puns and inspirational quotes. I cultivated enough inside jokes with a guy from Virginia to fill a book. But as fun as it was to message these people, I didn’t actually know them until we sat together on a Hill patio during NSO. Online conversations are easier to strike up and less awkward than in-person ones, but they’re no substitute for the real thing.
Class of 2018, let’s stop assuming we know someone based on a post they spent 30 seconds writing. After all, we’re college kids now. As for the rest of Penn, give us a break. You too were young and foolish once. Now stop trying to mooch off our meal swipes.
Dani Blum is a College freshman from Ridgefield, Conn. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. “The Danalyst” appears every Tuesday.
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