Next time you want to passive-aggressively post about your neighbours leaving their washing up in the sink, maybe just text themChristian Erfurt / Unsplash

Mindless Camfess browsing is an innocent vice we all can’t seem to shake off. You’re bored, you have a couple of minutes to burn during a lecture break – might as well open up Facebook and inwardly chuckle while reading (somewhat) relatable statements along the lines of “I email my weekly supo essays in the Lola’s queue” or “who else makes roast dinners at 3am”. If anonymous community pages like Camfess only contained posts like these, it wouldn’t be so bad. Yes it would be a little bit cringe, but there isn’t anything fundamentally harmful in that.

The posts that exasperate me are from another common genre – the banal, petty, borderline-bureaucratic complaints. Whether it’s utterly trivial things like “Someone took my favourite seat in the UL”, or the kinds of maintenance complaints like “my shower is clogged”, there appears to be no filter on what people decide is worth sharing with the world. Complaints of this variety seem so niche, one wonders if there is any value in bringing them up at all, aside from a degree of narcissistic pleasure for the poster. For every semi-good joke or post about a serious issue in the university community, there seem to pop countless random ventings about inane drivel that really should have stayed in the drafts.

But why do I even care about people complaining on the internet? In a lot of cases, these confession pages are starting to undermine instances of valuable human interaction and even damage our ability to carry out those interactions in real life conversations. A certain kind of bitterness and alienation towards those around you reveals itself when we share our thoughts and frustrations exclusively through an anonymous online medium. A little complaint aired in the gyp to a friend is just that. But what is the actual constructive outcome of consistently airing your personal grievances to “the void” on Facebook?

“You’re not exactly Wikileaks for calling out the people in a college with less than 100 people per year”

A lot of us may be trying to optimise every facet of our lives, but our relationships with other people aren’t the kind of thing that can be reduced to how ideally suited they are for our immediate comfort. Hidden in all of these little complaints about noisy neighbours or library seats being taken is the idea that the infuriating issues we deal with day-to-day are not part of living among other people, but are annoyances to be eliminated with the click of a finger. Yes, it’s very hard to “realise your full potential” if it involves the person on the floor above you deciding that mid-exam season is the perfect time to learn how to play the trumpet. Yet, instead of making peace with reality or at least attempting to resolve the issue in person, we seem to want to solve our problems in the way we order an Amazon package: at the tap of a button. But is the best way to deal with anything, at the end of the day?

Believe it or not, your issues may actually be solvable without Facebook’s shared space for passive aggressive grudge posting. You may just have to (shock, horror) talk to the people around you. Don’t appreciate the background music provided by your neighbours’ 6pm samba sessions? Maybe mention it to them next time you see them, instead of turning to the submission box. There’s a greater sense of amity in college than could perhaps be found in a larger institution, helped along by the tight-knit living environment and shared college culture. The proximity and shared spaces we have with the people around us in Cambridge is what makes this place pretty unique. It is also exactly why posting about your beef on a confession page is a fool’s errand.


Mountain View

Inside Camfess: Admins reveal all

It’s not a big city, you’re not exactly Wikileaks for calling out the people in a college with less than 100 people per year. Think about how many people you know you seem to run into in Mainsburys – are these the same people that you’re “anonymously” venting about on your college-fess page? Most of the time it’s pretty easy to track down the source of the complaints or drama to you, since there’s not a lot of people here to begin with. A callout post about someone on a certain staircase or at a certain event is never going to be a “call to the void” in the way it would be somewhere else online. Merely initialising a person’s name to protect their identity, especially when everyone proudly displays them on their puffers, doesn’t make it too difficult to track the thread of gossip down to the original source. It comes across less as cathartic for the poster, and more spiteful and vindictive than anything else.

Let’s resolve to remember the ways of communicating and airing our grievances already at hand. The Facebook pages are, at the end of the day, a frustrating excess that we should do our best to shrug off, after which, hopefully, we’ll learn to live with each other a little more harmoniously than we do currently. A Facebook submission box may look like the easy way out, but we wouldn’t be at Cambridge if we wanted things to come easy, wouldn’t we?