If like me, you spend more time than you would like to admit numbly scrolling through your Facebook feed, you’ll have noticed the exponential expansion of Durfess– students submitting thoughts, feelings,
jokes and odes to be published anonymously on one Facebook page. The page now boasts nearly 7000 likes, and its love-themed spinoff Tindur is not far behind. The pages are an excellent source of
procrastination and amusement, especially at such a hectic time of year, and I certainly know that I’m not the only follower who’s become somewhat fond of the endless stream of relatable content and romantic rhymes. This week for my editorial, I want to reflect on what we can learn about the popularity of these pages, and what this says about Durham students as a population.
We’re too afraid to make a move IRL. In the days of Tinder, we’re used to making our advances from behind the screens of our phones, probably in the safety of our own homes. A mutual swipe right assures a mutual attraction, and the unmatch button protects us from awkward encounters. Of course, you’re not guaranteed any of this from your seat in the lecture halls. You’re too uncomfortable to strike up a conversation, and overcome with the fear that perhaps this person is taken, or not interested. Maybe you’ll trip up your words and maybe they’ll laugh about it with their friends later. Maybe there’s no way this person would actually be interested in you, and your insecurities get the better of you. Tindur is a natural progression of the online dating world, where Durham students write poems dedicated to the person they can’t quite bring themselves to talk to, or saw one day in the library and were determined to track down. Tindur speaks to our missed connections, but also to our fear of actually making them. It’s a lot easier to let a person know you find them attractive and tell them to ‘hmu’ if you’re anonymous. If they manage to figure out your identity, you can feign ignorance or blame your friends. If you never give them the chance to know who you are, you can’t be rejected. Tindur posts are a lot of fun, and it must be an ego boost to see a post aimed at you and know that someone out there is into you, but it also allows us to stay coddled in our social media security blankets, safe from any potential rejection or IRL embarrassment. Clearly this strategy isn’t effective – the sheer volume of sexually frustrated posts testify to that!
We’re all struggling a bit more than we would like to admit. The founder of the Durfess page recently posted quite a moving confession about why they started the page – to ‘vent’ about their own pain as their mother suffers from a terminal illness. ‘I struggle with the idea of telling people around me’. I’ve seen countless other submissions covering very serious topics, from depression to bullying to suicidal thoughts- no doubt the anonymity of the submission process means that many feel comfortable opening up about their own struggles in great detail. Such subject matter starkly punctuates the narcissistic frenzy we’re so used to seeing on social media. One scroll down my timeline will tell you that I’m fine, I’m happy, I have a great group of friends and a fantastic social life- because that’s exactly what I want you to think. It doesn’t tell you about those familiar moments when we struggle to keep afloat, when deadlines overwhelm us or when there’s heartbreak or loneliness in our lives. Whilst others feed you their edited extreme highs, anonymous submissions share their lowest moments- and it’s heartbreaking to think that they might not have anyone to share these moments with in real life. Whilst it’s better than nothing, a sad react is not the same as a hug, and a comment of reassurance and support (which is the most you can really offer someone in this situation) cannot replace a tangible tender word or loving gesture. If Durfess helps people ‘vent’ and genuinely feel better, that’s fantastic- but we mustn’t forget the services offered at Durham which are designed to help people in such heartrending situations. If anonymity is important to you, Nightline is an excellent service to get in touch with.
We’re a community. Sharing anecdotes of our experiences at Durham reminds us that we’re all part of this community- the good and the tough parts, the issues which divide us and the issues which unite us. Like any other platform, it adds a layer to our own identity as students here. In a small city which can often feel like one big bubble, it reminds us of our place in the loop and brings awareness of events which are happening all around us. And lastly, in case it seems like I’ve forgotten this very important fact, it’s a laugh- something to bring a brief smile to our faces and share with friends before we crack on with our work.
Without further ado; here’s this week’s editor’s picks!
Katie Fraser – Nudity Today
Katie Fraser considers the fallacy of perfection and how this affects our self-perception.
Abel Bede – Sheer Beauty – ‘The Shape of Water’ Review
‘‘The Shape of Water’ is a masterfully executed film about love and humanity that – while managing to reflect on the sexism, racism and homophobia of its era – turned out to be just like its subject material; weird, absurd and unlikely but that is exactly what makes it so beautiful.’
Beth Pritchett – Food gone too far
Horrified by the deep-fried, cheese-stuffed, overly indulgent food videos found when scrolling through her Facebook timeline, food editor Beth Pritchett pleads us to go back to simpler times.
Ella Catherall – A new Cold War era?
Could Putin and Trump’s clash of personalities set the stage for a new cold war era?
Best wishes and happy reading!