Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Chains of Identity Released, the Plastics of GW Attack

If you don't get the reference in the title, just read on.

Throughout my time at GW, I have learned to ignore the more foolish aspects of the school, like those people who fly home on the weekends even though home is only 2 hours away, or the girl who chastises her dad for writing her a paper that was too long. It's the stuff of Overheard at GW. It mostly comes from the people who sport Gucci bags, Uggs, and the typical bug-eye pair of sunglasses. And even if their éclat makes Anna Wintour look like just an amateur queen bee, it is mostly harmless.

But I could not ignore JuicyCampus, the subject of James' recent entry. I won't link to it to directly, because I do not intend to drive traffic there. Suffice it to say that JuicyCampus is where college students go to dish the dirt, however crude and defamatory, on their peers. As James noted, it is completely anonymous. The site features many schools across the country, but I think that it is (sadly) well suited for GW.

As one of my friends astutely observed, reading GW’s page is like reading the script of Mean Girls. Except that instead of North Shore High School, now it's Foggy Bottom. What JuicyCampus has effectively done for GW students is enable them to express their true selves - their true, exceptionally soulless selves.

You come to this school under the penumbra of an ingeniously crafted, lofty, almost decadent event – Colonial Inauguration - that appeals to your taste, and your pocketbook. If you enroll, you notice very quickly that you are immersed in this fantastic nirvana of a gorgeously spartan city. It's almost dreamlike - almost.

But in reality it is a Faustian bargain. What really happens is that you forfeit large sums of money to receive a decently good education alongside a student body composed of people who, for the most part, have no class. You make this painful discovery when you find they have dragged your name and the names of your dear friends through the mud.

The people that do this may occupy positions of power, or may be entrusted with your residential well-being. They are around you, even if they reveal their opinions only behind the trustworthy veil of anonymity that JuicyCampus' virtual-reality bitchfest provides.

I will be criticized for characterizing my peers like this. This is a given. What I'm saying is self-evident regardless. I was personally victimized on the message boards of this website and my friends were labeled ugly whores. I, as they, have a reason to be pissed off.

I speak for all of us when I say that it's nothing short of reprehensible that students at a major university who pursue degrees of higher education do this. You are at liberty to think whatever you please, but publishing it is another matter, and in that area you most clearly do not have the liberty to do whatever you please. You have no right to publish patently libelous content because you have nothing better to do. You have no shame.

JuicyCampus doesn't only defame its victims. It also undermines the schools featured on the site. After seeing discussion threads on topics from "who is the biggest tool in the Student Association" to "who is uncircumcised", what is a prospective GW student to opine about us? Besides thinking that we are, in general, an obnoxious coterie of spiteful bitches who prognosticate from a sky-high pied-à-terre (an idea which is apparently true), they may truly believe the accusations that target specific people. This skews their perception of the school even further, and as a result our reputation as a university is slowly muddled away, all because of utter nonsense.

For that reason, and also because it provides a platform to publish untrue, offensive and slanderous statements about real people who have real lives, JuicyCampus should be unequivocally condemned. (Interesting aside: my home state of New Jersey - bless its oil refineries and old-man bars - is suing the creators of JuicyCampus in an attempt to show that the site violates state consumer fraud laws.)

When I went to Colonial Inauguration in July 2007, I was admittedly naïve. Now, 26 months later, I am acutely aware that there is but a scintilla of nicety in the entire 20052 zip code. Saboteurs are many. I have my suspicions as to exactly who mine are. I almost wish I could publish their names here, but I don't, because I have the decency that they so perspicuously lack.

It's amazing, when you think about how puerile it is. Or maybe sadistic is really the word. I guess the rule of thumb is this: give a GW student an anonymous platform, and he/she will abandon the façade of politesse and milk it for all its worth. Especially when the target is other GW students.

My confidence in the student body is low at this point. I don't desire revenge, and I try not to appear bitter, because frankly, I don't care what was said about me. But I do care for my friends, and the abuse they suffered. The bottom line is that no one should have to endure the kind of treatment one gets on JuicyCampus. I urge everyone to boycott it so we can put an end to this madness.


Margarita Baez (Guest Blogger) said...

That was a well written article Max. But I seriously doubt your boycott will come to anything: you're forgetting that we're college students, for many of us, we haven't got our parents to monitor what we do or what we say.
I've got to admit, I've been to Juicy Campus before and with the fact that its all anonymous, that's just the largest boon you can give to anyone person, regardless of student background.
I don't associate myself with "the plastics" that you speak of, but that alone isn't a safeguard anymore.

Sophie said...

Max, you're a brilliant writer. And I agree that JuicyCampus is a shitstorm. I haven't checked it out for Haverford, but I don't see what you described at GW here. Although Mean Girls was actually based on several DC private high schools. The writer's sister went to mine. Anyway, I had one question.

"What JuicyCampus has effectively done for GW students is enable them to express their true selves - their true, exceptionally soulless selves."

Do you really think that the individuals who post on JuicyCampus are soulless cowards who have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to release their darker natures, or do you think that we all have a streak of gossip, of mean-spiritedness, that we all, to an extent, delight in the foibles of others (you did, after all, write this article, and you did seem to relish your own descriptions of the sort of people who post to juicycampus) and that this website not only allows for, but fosters, a cruel environment? I think that there are certain settings that draw out people's worst natures, but that does not mean that these people are inherently cruel, only that they are less thoughtful and perhaps weaker, more easily swayed, than their counterparts. Think of Abu Gharib (sp), think of the Stanford prison experiment and Zimbardo's fascinating *response* to Abu Gharib; we all have a darker side, and there are situations that draw it out of all us. It takes strength to fight this, and while JuicyCampus is a weak and pathetic excuse for inciting cruelty and those who post are definitely lacking in, as you say, class, I think it is a step too far to call their "true selves" "soulless." are you?

Anonymous said...

I refuse to contribute to that website - let's hope others follow suit.

Joanne F said...

Great article Max. Don't lose faith in GW students, most of us are decent people!

Anonymous said...

Oh please. From your first sentence it's clear you are jealous of people more beautiful than you, richer than you, and who generally get along in society more easily than you. Don't worry, though. It's just college; it's not like that after you graduate...oh no, wait - it is. You will always make snarky comments about the aforementioned people in an effort to show how intelligent you are, but anyone who reads between the lines will know: you are simply jealous. Yes, it is important to be smart, but beauty, money, and social un-awkwardness are all very important too, throughout life. So get over your little insecurities and evolve already.

Anonymous said...

Uh...if someone is that confident in their own beauty (and wealth??), why would they throw stones from an anonymous house? Anonymous, please link to your Facebook profile and proof of your immense wealth. Or, maybe you should start a new blog

Max McGowen said...

I agree. Why don't you have the courage to reveal who you are? I wish you would, but even if you don't, I can live with that since I know *exactly* who you are. It is quite obvious to me based on your word choice and our history.

And for the record, I'm really not jealous of your haughty, obnoxious, superior attitude. Because it's really going to come back to you one day when you're not expecting it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Dude - it's the internets. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

max, its apparent who you are talking about, but i believe that you are wrong.

don't assume too much without anything more than speculation

SEEit said...

juicycampus is like thurston.
if you judge GW by looking at who is standing outside of it, you are definitely going to get the wrong idea about the people here. Its only the handful of "those people" that are small-minded and bored enough to comment on the site.

i agree, there are a lot more decent people here than what that website suggests.

rebatum said...

Well stated. Hopefully most people at GWU don't engage in JuicyCampus for the purpose of victimizing others.

To the anonymous dissenter of this article: How can anyone "get over" their insecurities when they're posted on something like JuicyCampus? Do you really advocate the pitiless gossip of that site? I also think your response could've been said less... rudely (and pretentiously). No matter what side you take on this issue.

Of course, you're anonymous. Despite your disagreement, you are validating the point he made.

Erik Zyman Carrasco said...

To Anonymous #2:

Dude, fuck you and your provincial, egomaniacal, materialistic, looksist bourgeois elitism, against the likes of which Max is a bulwark and a voice of sanity and morality. Oh, and I have the balls to claim responsibility for my words rather than cravenly veiling myself behind online namelessness.

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