Student Lifestyle Magazine and final year University project in Journalism
Anyone who has ever studied at degree level is perfectly familiar with the art of procrastination: the act of tearing oneself away from any impending assignments by whatever means available. I’ve known students to participate in some bizarre activities in the quest for academic freedom, from something as acceptable as cleaning their musty maisonette to the extreme of adopting a Panda online on the premise that this act of charity will make a bigger difference than any approaching academia which is required of them.
Unfortunately for the WWF, 2013 has spawned a new form of internet procrastination, one much less charitable than the preservation of Pandas. University students across the country are beginning to involve themselves in a process known as ‘Spotting’.
For those of who aren’t aware of the impending epidemic, these Spotted pages allow Facebook users to anonymously upload photos, videos and stories chronicling the activities of fellow students (usually strangers) across their Universities. Whether it’s a gaping builder’s bum in the Library or a walk of shame near a halls of residence, Spotted sites ensure that no-one is safe from embarrassment and online heckling.
There are now hundreds of Spotted pages on Facebook, documenting student’s behaviour in a range of scenarios, from public places such as the University library to places as private as specific streets. There have even been cases of images being taken through the windows of student’s private homes and shared on these intrusive pages.
Tom, a student at Leeds Metropolitan University admits to posting several images on the Universities’ library spotted page and feels that it’s all done in good humour: “I don’t think pages like this do any real harm to people, at the end of the day its just a way of having a laugh, if I got caught on there I’d find it hilarious”.
However, contrary to Tom’s views, some victims of Spotted pages don’t find this form of procrastination quite so amusing. Georgina was named and shamed on the Northumbria Library Spotted page after a public display of affection with her boyfriend: “I admit that at first I thought the pages were quite funny and I read them quite a bit but once you end up on there yourself it isn’t quite so amusing, it’s just embarrassing”.
Georgina, who complained to the University after her experience with the trend, added: “I actually feel like I’m being watched whenever I’m in the library now. Everyday actions like eating and talking to friends make me worried that I’m going to get ridiculed online again.”
Hundreds of disgruntled students have found themselves in Georgina’s position, leading to most Universities printing warnings on campus and some students even setting up ‘Stopped’ pages which protest against their University’s Spotted page. These pages have had some success too, the Universities of Exeter and York have both had their Spotted pages closed down as a result of the online petitions.
However, despite action being taken by some Universities, there has been no noticeable cease to the proliferation of these pages. It seems that any lasting action will have to be initiated by Facebook themselves which seems unlikely considering the current lack of filters on the social networking site.
It’s therefore up to students to put an end to this embarrassing trend. It’s easy to spot who’s ‘Spotting’, so if you see someone stealthily photographing another don’t be afraid to confront the culprit and make clear the problem with that they’re partaking in. This fad will die out sooner or later but as far as were concerned, the sooner the better.