Edinboro hookup culture, Twitter accounts cause controversy

Category:  News
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015 at 9:48 PM

The account names may differ, but their purpose often remains the same. Whether it’s crushes, confessions or loves, these primarily anonymous Twitter accounts go about publishing student-submitted sexual pursuits, often naming names.

Locally, we’ve had accounts like “@ edinborodimes,” “@borocrushes,” which was eventually suspended by Twitter, and most recently, “@borohookups,” which ceased operations earlier this October. And further down the road, Slippery Rock’s “@confessionsSRU,” Mercyhurst’s “@mercyhurstcrush” and Gannon’s “knightlyloves” all operate in similar fashions.

Boro Hookups, as many of these accounts do, utilized the website Ask FM for submissions, keeping the submitter and poster anonymous, allowing many to eavesdrop on the romantic and sexual lives of others, whether they be true or false.

When asked why people would want to broadcast their “dirty laundry” to the campus, Professor Laura Miller, who teaches human sexuality classes explained, “I think it just seems like there’s this generation of older adolescents and young adults who have become enamored with this whole concept of making yourself ‘famous,’ posting everything about yourself on Facebook and racking up friends on Facebook to make yourself feel better, even though deep down you feel insecure and you are still figuring out who you are.”

Edinboro student Darren Massey was the topic of many posts by the “@ borohookups” Twitter account.

“I am a man of few words and I don’t get upset about things. I just laugh at it and think it’s funny. It got a little annoying though,” said Massey.

Edinboro student Nick Simpson was another popular name mentioned on the account.

“I had a really negative outlook on it. Anonymously and publically attacking people is so gutless and cowardly. The amount of unnecessary drama and stress it caused for undeserving people was just dumb,” said Simpson.

“I think part of it is just attention seeking, which deep down stems out of insecurity, even though a lot of people wouldn’t admit that or not even realize that,” said Miller.

“When individuals say unkind things under a veil of anonymity, they are usually looking for an audience to hurt and offend people. I suggest that students refrain from giving them that audience,” said Dr. Kahan Sablo, vice president of student affairs, when asked about the account.

As Simpson mentioned, the account “attacked undeserving people” and can even be seen as cyberbullying to some. In
a survey conducted in February 2015 at a high school in the midwestern United States, approximately 34 percent of the students in the sample reported experiencing cyberbullying in their lifetimes. When asked about specific types of cyberbullying in the previous 30 days, mean or hurtful comments (12.8 percent) and rumors spread (19.4 percent) online, such as these Twitter accounts, continued to be among the most commonly-cited.

“In general, social media can be a wonderful tool for networking and connecting with friends. Social media can also be very harmful in many ways— especially to innocent victims of cyber bullying. I would remind those who post on social media sites that once something is posted on the Internet, it exists forever. I would strongly encourage students to refrain from posting anything that they wouldn’t want a potential employer to view prior to making a decision about a job offer,” said Sablo.

From a legal standpoint, a social media complaint could get someone in serious trouble, as well.

“If someone comes to us as a victim, we have to first determine how slanderous the comment is. Then, we would investigate where the account came from and who it is by tracking an ID, address and things like that,” Edinboro Borough Police Chief Jeff Craft said.

Based on the circumstances of the case, it would then be determined as a civil or criminal case.

“If it’s a criminal case, we would step in. It could be harassment by communication course of conduct. If civil, the victim is responsible for taking care of it and they could sue for slander,” Craft added.

According to the Pennsylvania crime codes, it states “course of conduct” to be defined as, “A pattern of actions composed of more than one act over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of conduct. The term includes lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings, caricatures or actions, either in person or anonymously.”

If someone is found guilty of harassment by communication, it could result in a citation or a misdemeanor, which could be in the third, second or first degree. Depending on your criminal history, a person found guilty could get anywhere from one to two years in jail or as little as probation and a requirement to attend a rehabilitative program.

The question now is, how have we gotten to the point in society where we are so comfortable with talking about our dirty laundry?

Professor Miller discussed the fact that America’s sexual morals were founded in puritanism. In the 1700s, sex was believed to only be for procreation. It wasn’t meant to be talked about, thought about, or enjoyed. As time went on, Miller said that in the 1960s, the sexual revolution and women’s liberation, along with the birth control pill being on the market, America had more freedom to express themselves. Since the 60s, Miller stated we have just become more comfortable talking about sex, birth control, sex out of marriage, same sex relationships and more.

Miller added that maybe we have become too comfortable with talking about it. “Maybe it’s because everybody is so used to seeing
it in the media, on TV, in ads, movies, and the Internet. Maybe we’ve deshamed it so much that some people just feel so free to air everything. I mean, ‘is it good that people don’t feel shameful about their behaviors?’ I think yeah for your emotional health but, ‘is it healthy to air that really personal stuff?’ I don’t think so.”

“I think there are healthy boundaries and some people don’t know where those are,” she continued.

“I think younger people don’t, maybe because they grew up with it and are so used to it in their culture, Facebook and Twitter, and all that now. I don’t think a lot of them are thinking long term or consequences like once I air this, it’s there for eternity. My parents can see it. My kids one day might see it. A potential employer might see it. People at my school or college could see it. You’re not thinking.”

The other question is, “Are people just not as shy anymore?”

“I think it’s more of a norm to talk about it. I think people hide behind the anonymity of all this technology,” Miller said.

“Things you do electronically [are sometimes things] you would never dare do face to face with someone. [They are] things you would say about someone that you wouldn’t dare say to their face. I think it’s really become potentially dangerous and in a lot of cases an unhealthy norm.”

And what about those individuals who were named on the account who didn’t do anything?

“It’s just crazy drama. Those who read it don’t think that ‘ok this could be fake and I need to just ignore it because it sounds ridiculous or it’s none of my business.’ It’s like, ‘Don’t you have something better to do with your life?’ Don’t you have a higher purpose in your life?’ It’s so very high school [in regard to] mentality,” said Miller. 

Karlee Dies is the News Editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com

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