I feel like an expectant mother. This psychosis is fueled, I’m sure, by my admitted overindulgence in trashy television, namely MTV’s new trainwreck hit show 16 and Pregnant (EDIT: It has come to my attention that the Lifetime Original Movie is actually called 15 and Pregnant. My apologies). This summer I am living in a city where I know approximately seven people, give or take one US President (who I only know in my dreams). Do you really blame me for drowning my loneliness in reality TV?
On some level, I feel like I can relate to those wayward teens, waddling around on aching feet well past their due dates. Babies don’t come according to schedule, and apparently neither do Williams Frosh Lists. The electronic versions of the entry rosters were supposed to arrive, all Pandora’s-box-like, via e-mail on Friday. I spent the day like it was Christmas morning, refreshing my webmail account with the same fervor I once applied to squealing at my parents to Please Please Please Let us open the presents now! But by the time evening rolled around, the lists hadn’t come. They still haven’t come. I’m overdue.
There are a few things that distinguish me from the knocked up high school students portrayed on 16 and Pregnant, of course, including the insistence by the administration that “The role of the Junior Advisor is not to act as a surrogate parent”. For one, I’m about to leave my teenage years behind and enter a category (“twenty-something”) also associated with people for whom getting pregnant is actually socially acceptable. Plus, the only change my body is going through this summer is adjusting to the poor-college-student-living-on-her-own-for-the-first-time diet of Ramen noodles (Chicken Flavor, FTW) and post-workout protein shakes. There’s also the tiny detail that the “children” I’m expecting, all nineteen of them, are not children at all. Rather, they are full-grown adults who come bearing their own interests, value-systems, and yes, their very own Facebooks.
For Frosh Lists in the age of Facebook, the debate boils down to an old-cliche- To stalk or Not to stalk?
My own JAs were firmly anti-stalk, telling the entry proudly about the pact they made to not seek us out on the internet before our arrivals in August. It is a noble position to take, resisting the temptation to peek into the fascinating everyday lives of individuals you will likely know too well in a few months time.
For my Co, the Facebook dilemma is a non-issue. He is spending his summer leading youngsters on backpacking expeditions in the Berkshires, out of communicable range for weeks at a time. He has not even gotten the e-mail alerting us that the electronic lists are on their way; he has no idea we are overdue. It is likely that he will receive the hard copy of our list in a few weeks time, and that will be it. The list will be a list: words on a piece of paper, names without faces.
For me, the girl with the fast internet connection and too much free time, the list is so much more than a list. The list is a key, each name a secret password that can be used to access the online identities of the Frosh I am so desperate to know. The way I see it, the Facebook stalking is mostly harmless. Afterall, I assume that any initial judgements I make will soon be overridden as I form impressions from actually getting to know them in real life. But I will admit that it still makes me uneasy; it feels a bit like cheating, like peeking at the presents before Christmas morning (I promise to stop with that analogy now… I swear I don’t think of the ’13s as gift-wrapped toys). There is a certain appeal to the blank-slate approach, the idea that you will approach each Frosh as a stranger and build each relationship from the ground up.
Is it enough of an appeal to ease my curiosity and prevent me from immediately looking up each name on Facebook, whenever the lists actually arrive? Certainly not.
The other day, I made a Facebook group for my entry to join when they get their room assignments. For now, I’m the only member.