From the Girl with the Purple Spiked Backpack
by Nicole Howley | published May. 4th, 2013
For some reason, people are nice.
A few months ago, there was a surge of this niceness and there were three posts about me on some of the anonymous RIT Facebook pages. The first was on the RIT Complements page and that was followed by another two on RIT Crushes. One of the crush writers submitted the message, “I’d sometimes see this girl in the tunnels with the purple spiked backpack. I don’t know, but I have a gut feeling and I’d like to get to know her.” I am the girl with the spiked backpack, and I’m sorry but the feeling is not reciprocated.
Although posts on RIT Crushes and other similar pages can be flattering, I really don’t want to be the subject of them. I’m not really interested in being with someone that I’ve never actually talked to.
Now, I totally love dating and flirting and meeting people but I am not interested in making the first move on someone who has told me that they are interested in me anonymously. And that’s part of where my frustration with these posts stems from. By posting on these pages, a conversation has been started that puts the ball in the crush’s corner. The individual reached out to their crush, said the first thing and now, if we follow social norms, the crush is supposed to respond.
Yet even before meeting, the balance between the crush and anonymous poster is flawed. The reason is that, according to the Interpretative and Interaction Communication theory, communication can be symmetrical or complementary. As the website Communication Theory states, “Symmetrical interaction between communicators is grounded on equal power and complementary interaction between communicators is grounded on differences in power.”
Posting about someone on one of the RIT anonymous pages is in the complementary interaction category. A person posting on one of these anonymous pages may or may not receive some kind of feedback from the subject of the post, but the crush will definitely not have any information about the anonymous person. All this knowledge is completely one-sided. Generally speaking, it is difficult to have an effective one-sided conversation.
Some of the people who have been posted about on RIT Crushes seem to be flattered and happy for the attention. In this case, the necessary communication balance between complementary and symmetrical isn’t off. But for others, including myself, these posts can lead to communication conflict including discomfort and embarrassment.
However, even though either response is possible, I still am not a fan of the posts on these pages. You could argue that maybe the people posting aren’t looking for any communication. Maybe they were expressing their feelings without expecting a response; but that does not change the fact that they are hoping for one. According to the Expectancy Value Model communication theory, people behave in a way that they believe will lead them closer to their goals. They have expectations behind their actions and that’s part of their motivation for executing them. They posted for a reason and they know it.
Now that the ball is in my court, I have no expectations or motivation to respond. I might expect the person to see me more as an object of their affection rather than as an individual. Or that they might be obsessive before we have even met. Or any variety of unpleasant possibilities. If I don’t know who the person is, it is more difficult for me to come up with more positive and motivational expectations.
Still people have unrequited love all the time. According to a New York Times article from 1993, people report falling into an unrequited feeling of love on average once a year. But the problem with the RIT Crushes page is that many people are choosing to stay there instead of approaching the person of interest and seeing if things could actually work out. Don’t do that to yourself and please don’t tease your person of interest with anonymous posts. Spread the love. And most importantly, spread it into the real world outside of Facebook, too.
photo by Seth Abel