Not surprisingly, social media shapes arriving at Williams College today, as Sam Alterman ’18 explained last year in the Williams Record:

If you are a first-year here at the College, there’s a very good chance that you know our names and maybe even our faces. We are the admins of the Class of 2018 Facebook group.

And now we are here, on campus, with you. You see us on the sidewalks and the quads, in Sawyer and the ’62 Center, in Driscoll and Whitman’s and Mission. You see us at soccer games, in classes and in Paresky. And you run up to us, shouting our names, taking our pictures…

For many of you, however, we are your celebrities. For months you have been seeing our names on your computer and mobile screens… Some entries are apparently playing games of who can take the most pictures of us around campus. It’s all rather flattering, to be honest.

A little different than receiving the name of your roommate and his mailing address (I think in my case, it was a P.O. Box) and a few phone calls and photocopied letters from freshmen coaches and upperclass teammates-to-be.

Alterman continues:

Facebook has a strange way of making us feel like we know people before we have met them. Because we have access to so much information about our Facebook friends… Facebook makes it so easy and so tempting that many of us just can’t resist. When entry lists were released in July, I immediately began tracking down my entrymates, poring over the past several years of their posts and pictures, pegging the nerds, the jocks, the partiers and the generally dull. On move-in day, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what my entry looked like. I thought I knew who I would like and dislike, who would be my friend and who I would merely tolerate.

Not so fast, he warns:

People I had pegged as “unfriendly jocks” turned out to be some of the most intelligent and caring people in my entry; people I had expected to be dry and dull ended up being hilarious; people I thought were just about partying were in fact some of the hardest working and most thoughtful people in my entry. An entry that I originally thought was a very mixed bag revealed itself to be my favorite group of 22 people on campus.

I urge you, my fellow classmates, to get to know each other; to not just cling to the faces you recognize from the Facebook group and instead talk to someone you have never heard of before. I know this gets repeated so much that it sounds incredibly fake, but, really, we are all here for a reason. I guarantee that everyone in this valley has a story to tell and something to teach you. So please, don’t just cling to the Dorothy Gabys and Sam B. Altermans of this campus. Instead, try introducing yourself to three new people a day. After all, you never know who may end up being your best friend.

Good advice! I hope the Class of 2019 hears it early and often.

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