“I'm having such a hard time finding friends on this campus I'm considering switching to a different school.”
“It's 6am as I write this. I have gotten no sleep. I swear, COS 217 will actually be the death of me.”
These are two examples from the hundreds of anonymous posts on Tiger Confessions++, a Facebook group created last month, which has since gained almost 2,000 followers. It was created only one day after Tiger Confessions, Princeton’s original anonymous Facebook confessions page, deleted all of its contents.
As the original Tiger Confessions group gained 5,000 followers and nearly 12,000 posts, Ty Ger, the administrator, decided that the “possible negative impacts of the group” necessitated a complete shutdown. The student responses quoted in a recent Daily Princetonian article covering this shut down reflected concerns about what the page had become; one stated that Tiger Confessions promoted “an already prevalent Princeton mindset of complaining because something is mildly difficult, and instead of working through it, drowning in self-pity and the self-pity of people who are encouraged by your complaints,” noted one student.
And yet, with Tiger Confessions++’s gaining popularity, the rampant complaints are back. From academics and extracurriculars to eating clubs and the social scene, many of the anonymous posts have reemerged as outlets to vent and express the student body’s ever-present stress and frustrations on campus. Why is it, then, that despite our best efforts to eliminate complaints, they keep reemerging? And what can we do about it?
Perhaps the answer lies not in eliminating complaints, but instead in embracing them. Try as we might to erase them, they’ll keep coming back. Delete one forum, and another will undoubtedly replace it. Thus, taking a step back from constantly condemning this negative attitude and instead constructively assessing the culture of complaint here on campus might reveal the merits of complaining in bringing a community together.
Complaining helps us find a community; when we complain, there’s a part of us that wants to find others like us. We complain about our lack of sleep, hoping to find others who feel the same way. We complain about our problem sets, hoping to find others who struggle similarly. We complain about the social scene, hoping that we’re not alone in this. Through every complaint, every frustration, we’re looking for a community.
And on Tiger Confessions++, even if it’s not your traditional community, there’s still a community of sorts.
“OP, soon you and everyone else will be finished with that class [...] The *only* thing I gained in that class is the genuine awareness of the transience of all things.”
“Likewise, OP. I stayed up until 3 am.”
For almost every post, people can respond, tag their friends, and react. It is seemingly insignificant, but it represents a shift in how we define our communities. On Tiger Confessions ++, for every post, there’s a group of people with shared experiences. Whether it’s getting your jacket stolen from an eating club or taking a frustrating class, we feel a sense of belonging. We feel a sense of connection. And perhaps, that’s what it’s all about: finding our own little communities.
Of course, there’s a point where complaints become toxic, burdensome, and triggering. And to that end, I hope that the resources on campus — CPS, SHARE, etc. — can serve as safe spaces for these students. I hope that they feel comfortable talking to the counselors and sharing their experiences.
But what forums like Tiger Confessions++ offer us is uniquely different. The culture of complaining they foster is important for this campus. Sometimes what we need most is to know — rather than simply hope — that we’re not alone.
Kate Liu is a first-year from Princeton, N.J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.