LikeALittle entices campus romantics to flirt with anonymity

Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, but love is still in the air. The cloudy weather seems almost romantic, everyone reminds you of “just that one” and your heart skips a beat when you see him. You just need to declare it to the world.

Then, of course, you go on and blurt it all out. And if you are feeling especially courageous, you can even send that special someone an e-mail informing him or her about the post.

This new fad website was recently launched by three Stanford students and has grown to include more than 450 campuses today. The purpose of the website, according to its creators, is “as a flirting-facilitator platform (or FFP, for advanced users). The site’s purpose is to allow you to compliment and chat about your crushes around you or otherwise bemoan your missed encounters from the safety of your trusty screen.”

From the rising popularity of the website, it does seem like the College had a need for its own FFP. Susannah Eckman ’11 even decided that the rest of campus needed to know about it, so she started a thread on WSO. She liked that anonymity allowed people to be playful. “What is really appealing to me about the website is that since it’s anonymous, it’s no stress and from what I’ve seen, people have been very fun and cute on it. To me it seems like a very positive thing,” she said.

It is not clear if a search for love really is why students here so quickly caught the LikeALittle fever. However, a new side of Williams culture has definitely emerged. Unlike Juicy Campus and other similar sites that have popped up and died down in recent years, LikeALittle is unique in that it focuses on a more positive dimension of admiring others without having to face the fear of rejection.

The postings on the website, as a result, are overwhelmingly precious, though admittedly often creative. One brunette female at Sawyer was serenaded with, “Your curls give me chills, I see your frills and pearls, talk to me girl, you can be my Countess, I can be your Earl.” The reply was equally witty, addressed also to a Brunette in Sawyer, male this time: “I see you looking at my curls and frills. You sexy Earl, come give me a thrill, unfurl my pearls, I wanna be your girl.”

However, as sweet as these posts can be, there is still skepticism over the aspect of anonymity. David Gold ’12 was skeptical of the reliability of the website, raising a number of issues that were of concern. He was worried that the anonymity of the forum might encourage online sexual harassment, especially with LikeALittle’s chat feature, which can’t be regulated like the posts.

Gold is not the only one doubtful of the future success of LikeALittle at Williams. In my research I came across a number of students who were willing to survey the website once but did not intend to post on it. However, even now, a quick visit to the website will show new posts every couple of hours and at least seven to eight people available on chat, especially during peak times. Also, recently more comments have been visible on the posts showing more active engagement of the students with the website.

While LikeALittle was not designed specifically for the College, several students here have requested the forum (the site only adds a campus once a certain number of students from a college request it). One of these students also gets assigned the role of moderator. This means that if a post is marked as inappropriate by any site user, an e-mail is sent to the moderator who can then use the rules of the site to decide if the post should be removed or not.
Efforts to reach these students or interview others did not prove successful – most interviewees did not want to be mentioned by name. Here, it seems, is the key to the College’s LikeALittle culture: It seems to be mostly treated as a guilty pleasure, okay to engage in every once in a while but not to be acknowledged as a legitimate pastime. While it is a forum that could be abused, perhaps it will take something like LikeALittle for our campus to break barriers of comfort and simply be frank with each other.

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