Houses that hashtag keep laptops, social lives abuzz

This fall, the College has been so engrossed in online activity that even dorms, co-ops and houses off campus are getting in on the action. From Facebook pages to Twitter accounts, students (or even houses themselves) have created communal online experiences centered on their humble abodes here in Williamstown.

The origins of these social media accounts are often rich myths shrouded in mystery. Will Weiss ’12 proclaimed that the Poker Flats A Twitter name, @chensnoodlecart, began with Jack Chen ’12, the “cult hero” of it all. According to Weiss, Chen was upset by the early closings of some restaurants on Spring Street and wanted to “have some stand on Spring Street open late.” (Apparently Chen foresaw the market for the burrito truck. I guess such insightful prophecies are expected from a cult hero.) The six boys of Poker A started the Twitter to post events so that anyone who wanted to could join in the fun down at Poker A. “If we post it on Twitter, it’s an open invitation for our friends to come hang out,” Tom Crawford ’12 said. Stephen Weiss ’12 said that it is a helpful way for the boys to keep in touch with their WUFO team: “We don’t want to be the seniors that are off in the corner. We want to be very much a part of what’s going on.” And Will Weiss uses it to hype his “Chentino” shirts, embossed with Chen’s alter ego.

Another social medium of mythic origin is the Facebook of 71 Hoxsey Street. Although I could not speak to the house directly, Pat Morrissey ’12 and Ryan Purdy ’12 kindly told me what they know about the mysterious activities of “the big blue house.” Morrissey believes it all began on one fateful Sunday, when “the house just went online and started the Facebook. And we found out about it the next week. Everyone kept asking who started the Facebook, and we realized it was the house.” Although it might sound like the beginning of a new Amityville Horror chapter, the house is actually downright affable. “It encourages friendship with other houses on the block,” Morrissey added (perhaps more Hoxsey houses will follow suit?). There’s also some mystery concerning how the photo of the house’s “favorite member,” the stunning golden retriever Lucy, was taken. “We think that Lucy might have done a selfie,” Morrissey said (Lucy replied with a “woof” after he said this, which I’ll interpret as an affirmation).

But sometimes the origins are a little more obvious. For four lovely inhabitants of Garfield, a communal Twitter offers a way to record and preserve precious memories of senior year. This wonderfully eclectic and entertaining Twitter, @nosleeptilgarf, began when its founders first realized they would be spending their senior year in Garfield. The Twitter name is a play on the Beastie Boys’ song, “No Sleep ’Till Brooklyn.” According to Maya Harakawa ’12, one of the account’s founders, “Garfield is just like the Brooklyn of Williams. It’s kind of off the beaten path, but it’s hip, up-and-coming.”

And of course, even the closing of Greylock dining hall could not stop the swagger over in Greylock Quad last year. Eric Robinson ’13 created the     @markhopkittens Twitter when he was a Baxter Fellow in Mark Hopkins. “I was trying to get people together on the floor, so I started the Twitter. I gave everyone on the floor the password and username so they could tweet,” Robinson said. The name @markhopkins was taken, and since the floor theme was kittens, the Twitter name was born. “It is possibly the most straight-up G Twitter on the tweeter machine,” Stan Monfront ’13 said. Although it’s slightly less active this year, Javier Mariscal  ’13 reported that he has gained “a lot of wisdom” from it.

The styles of these social media vary. Mariscal finds the Mark Hopkins Twitter to be “funny, though not thought provoking at all. It’s fun for us.” The Poker A Twitter has a similar style; Stephen Weiss described it as “goofy but occasionally informative.” The girls at Garfield took some time to think about their style, and collectively came up with the term “hood-bougie” to describe the account. “We are the products of our liberal bourgeois educations, but we are also very in touch with contemporary culture,” Alex Schulte ’12 said. “It’s the way we talk – publicized to the world,” Hillary Higgs ’12 said. And as for Hoxsey, Morrissey explained that 71 is focused on fighting off boredom and making friends. “It’s pretty active on Facebook in the nighttime,” Purdy said.

But what happens when the students move out from these locations? Robinson thinks the Mark Hopkins Twitter will remain. “I think it’ll end up being my friends and me communicating, because it’s a forum for all of us to talk and go back and forth. But I would pass it on if someone wanted it.” But most believe their social media accounts will not continue after this school year. Stephen Weiss thinks that the Poker A Twitter will end: “It’ll probably die. It was a really temporary, fun, housing-related project.” Harakawa believes their Garfield account will also cease, but noted that “it’s a really nice thing to do senior year for us, a nice memory of this year.” However, the ladies did mention possible plans to create a collective memoir entitled Some Nights End in Tears: Memoirs of a College Geisha. Perhaps their written communal experience will take on a new form. And as for 71 Hoxsey, the boys are not sure what plans the house has in mind.  According to Purdy, “it keeps its plans pretty close to its chest … or its shingles.”