Stop airing out your beef on missed connections and grow up

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Photo: Illustration by Hailey Akau

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By Hailey Akau, Illustrator

Since the beginning of my time at Emerson College, I have come to despise the numerous Instagram accounts known among my peers as “missed connections.” Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept of providing a platform for students to anonymously share their opinions on all things Emerson, but recently I’ve noticed the content on the account taking a sour turn. Missed connections users are quick to jump at any opportunity to share their thoughts and opinions online––specifically in regard to their peers––and often do so without stopping to think about the effect their words may have on those who read them. 

The account @ec.missedconnections was recently brought back to my attention by my suitemates, who were discussing recent posts regarding Title IX accusations. Title IX violations aren’t a matter to take lightly, and it is important for students to understand exactly what constitutes a violation of the policy to ensure allegations and claims aren’t misinterpreted by the community.

The post that caught my attention was submitted by someone who claimed to have witnessed a student interacting with another person who had supposedly sexually assaulted multiple women. Comments on the post included the accused person’s first name and last initial as well as their Instagram username. The anonymous submitter said they considered confronting the student during this interaction but was too afraid to speak up at the moment. 

Within moments of hearing about this post, I was appalled at the lack of consideration for the accused person’s privacy. While Title IX accusations are nothing to take lightly, I wondered how the Emerson student community could allow such heavy allegations to be publicized to a wider audience without any solid evidence to back up or dispute the anonymous poster’s claims.

According to Emerson College policy, students can file Title IX reports based on incidents involving sexual assault and harassment, stalking, and abusive relationships. As of August 2022, the school’s policy against discrimination, harassment, and sexual violence defines Title IX sexual harassment as “(1) unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature; (2) that a reasonable person would find to be so severe, pervasive, and objectionably offensive; (3) that it effectively denies them equal access to the College’s educational program or activity.” 

Stalking is defined as “acts in which an individual directly, indirectly, or through third parties, follows, monitors, observes, surveillances, threatens, or communicates to or about a person” and “[causes] a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others, or to suffer substantial emotional distress.” Title IX sexual violence is defined as “any sexual act directed against an individual through the use of force, without consent and/or in instances where the Impacted Party is incapable of giving consent.”

The college’s website goes into much further detail regarding specific examples of Title IX violations, but these definitions are just three of the main violations most students are aware of.

Students airing their grievances on the missed connections account are too quick to jump to conclusions surrounding Title IX accusations and blast their opinions on the topic without understanding what actions constitute a violation of this policy. We throw around the term “Title IX” and discuss other people’s business without actually considering how effective the discussion is or how the involved parties may feel about the situation.

Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe it is extremely important for survivors to have a space where they can be heard and carry out an open, effective conversation about how to move forward and heal from traumatic experiences. However, using an anonymous platform to air out other people’s business without fully understanding the story is simply immature and inappropriate. 

Since the fall of my freshman year, it has been apparent that students do not think before submitting posts complaining about their roommates or peers. From sharing information about people’s personal hygiene to complaining about throwing dorm room parties, Emerson students are brutal when their names aren’t attached to what they post.

As a child growing up in the age of the Internet, I understand the impulsive tendency we have to hit the post button after drafting out our ideas on Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and other social media platforms. However, in recent years, I have come to realize the importance of thinking before you post to ensure the claims you are making do not offend or misrepresent other people and social groups.

I’m not trying to say we should ban accounts like “missed connections,” but we should really think about how the words we post will affect the issues we say we are trying to resolve.  Interpersonal conflicts can be frustrating and sometimes we need to just let out our feelings to someone who is willing to listen, but there’s a difference between healthy venting and publicizing personal information about people without their approval or consent. 

Turning to anonymous posting platforms instead of facing conflict head-on is extremely childish behavior. During my time at Emerson, I have heard many stories about students simply not being capable of handling any sort of confrontation between friends or roommates. It’s disappointing that we are still perpetuating this type of behavior even as young adults. It makes me think that a majority of the Emerson student body is not ready to face the real world, where you can’t run to a resident assistant the moment you dislike something about someone else.

Interpersonal conflicts are inevitable and out of our control. However, dealing with these issues like an adult and confronting them in a mature manner is truly the only way to resolve them and move forward. It’s time for us to stop airing out our beef on anonymous public platforms and behave like the adults we are supposed to be.