“Few people make me happier than April [’13]” one anonymous student wrote. “Emma [’15] happens to have fabulous taste in clothes, food, and male celebrites” wrote another.
Two anonymous Marlborough girls created a Facebook page on Feb. 17 as a place for students to post positive messages about other girls at the School to improve the moods of the girls receiving the compliment and to buoy the spirit of the community. Although the page initially violated the Student Technological Acceptable Use Policy by using the School’s name and logo, the girls have since made certain changes and, because of their good intentions, did not get into trouble.
Within 24 hours of its creation, the page was covered in anonymous compliments directed towards girls from all grades; in the past six weeks, over 33 compliments have been posted.
At first, the Facebook page was called “Marlborough Compliments,” used the Marlborough logo as its profile picture and discussed students in the posts by first and last names. By doing these things the anonymous creators of the page violated the Student Technological Acceptable Use Policy which states, “Students must receive explicit permission from the School before creating content (this includes digital images video, and/or audio), to post on other websites, including social networking sites, that refers to, or identifies a member of the Marlborough Community.”
However, the page only contained nice things written about other people, which put the administration, who soon became aware of the site, in a tough situation; according to 10th Grade Level Dean and history and social sciences instructor Tom Millar, the School did not want to take disciplinary action on the girls responsible for the site since it was not having a negative effect on the community.
“It’s more justifiable to take extreme measures in a situation when somebody is using social networking to say something negative and making threats against somebody,” Millar said. Millar ended up messaging the page from his personal account asking the girls to reveal themselves to him and talk about the changes that needed to be implemented in order for it to stay running.
After changing its name to Violet Compliments and changing all of the pictures on the page from the Marlborough logo to a random cartoon image, this page is now a School-approved site and continues to post only friendly comments that the girls in charge review before posting.
Within the past year, students at many high schools and colleges all over the country have started similar informal Facebook and Tumblr pages where conversations range from complimenting fellow students or chatting about hook-ups. Many of the pages were created to create new friendships or to give students a voice on a public stage, but some include explicit or rude material. As a result blogs such as The Stir have warned parents to “Watch out if your teen uses it.”
A girl can submit a compliment by sending it in a message to the Violet Compliments page, as long as the compliment includes the name of the student she is directing the compliment towards. The page then posts it without disclosing the name of the sender and tags the girl who has been complimented (if she has a Facebook account). Although some girls may drop hints as to who they are within their compliment, by doing things such as including an inside joke, most choose to stay anonymous.
For example, someone posted the following compliment on Feb. 22 about Annie ’16: “Annie is such an amazing girl. She takes on so many things, and her work with GirlUp is incredible. She is always traveling to different places for debate tournaments, to talk to women about girls’ education, and to work on numerous community service projects. She is so mature, well spoken and conscientious. I definitely see her going far in the future.” This compliment received 25 likes.