[email protected]: “A Place for People Like Me”
Written by Bwog Staff
Way back before the hurricane, a feisty character from BoredatButler fliered campus with posters of Operation Ivy League images, inviting the community to question the return of two groups that stirred much public shame less than two years ago. Bwog met with the anonymous mastermind behind “Operation Recall,” and learned more about the motivation behind his plan, and was surprised to hear an insider’s view of BoredatButler’s place in our community. Check out the upcoming December issue of
The Blue & White for an in-depth exploration of [email protected]’s anonymous, online community.
Bwog: So.. Describe the motivation behind the poster idea.
Geordi LaForge: I just, I found it really disappointing that the committee chose two frats that were kicked out. I tried.. It might have been slightly over-the-top.. like I met someone in the computer lab while I was printing. Someone tore down one of my fliers, actually, but I put it back up. So, she asked what organization I was a part of.
G: So it might have been too insensitive, but I think the two frats that got kicked out, if they want their housing back then they need to address that issue. Especially that frat that knew.. the one that wrote “Don’t sell drugs” on their board.
That’s why it’s called “Operation Recall”
B: So how collaborative was the process. The making of the flyer.
G: I did the first, initial design. I found every image I could, and I put as much as I could into the page, and then I shared it with the audience, to the other Anons. And they didn’t like it at all. Luckily, someone with more graphic design skill organized it to be something more effective.
B: And that was the final design
G: Yeah, a lot of peoples’ input, and two people designing
B: How many people would you say are active in the Bored at Butler community?
G: The community is probably 20 or so people.
B: Do you think that most people try to cultivate their individual avatar, or just post anonymously?
G: Everyone has some sort of account, but most people keep it anonymous, because, for example, I have a history behind my profile. So if, say, my screen name got leaked out, you’ll have everything I posted. In fact, I had to abandon a screen name because I feared that someone knew who I was.
B: So about the plan: Is that something that is going to continue? Do you feel like you sufficiently got your message out? We saw in our comments that your larger issue with it isn’t simply about the frats’ disciplinary history, but some idea about medical leave housing. What’s that about?
G: Yes. That’s one of the ideas I had, and it probably wouldn’t fly, but it would be really cool. I’m returning from medical leave, and I feel really disconnected from the community. In fact, the only reason I stay connected is through Bored at Butler. It’s been difficult transitioning back, and I think it would be nice to have a resource—a social house.
B: We hear that that issue is something CCSC is increasingly concerned about. They are talking about people feeling alienated from the community have coming back from leave. You should bring that to them, or flier about it.
G: Hah. I was really surprised. The operation didn’t go like i expected. I only posted in Broadway and Hogan, but… The Internet! it was amazing.
In Broadway, they all got taken down, but people still ended up seeing them one way or another.
Reflections on Method
B: So who do you think took them down? Pissed off greek life people?
G: Definitely, but even the girl that I talked to said that it was humiliating to see a classmate being arrested.
B: Yeah, we heard rumors after we posted the first round results that certain listservs were quickly brought into action to bring certain voices to the comments.
How would you compare that sort of group motivation to sway opinion to the kind of “trolling” or “shitposting” that Bored at Butler sometimes encourages?
G: Yeah… We’ve attacked your posts a few times…
I apologize. I wasn’t involved with that. But I do see a fair comparison there.
Yeah. There are three types of trolling, I think. There is trolling to gets laughs, trolling to get results, and then there is malicious trolling. But trying to change public opinion can—sometime—be considered a form of trolling.
The posters were—and I don’t want to sound too intellectual, because really I have no idea on Earth what I am doing—it sort of was like the wise fool in Shakespearen works. Through trolling, I can act like a complete fool and I can get away with a lot. People might say, “Oh that’s just trolling,” but I can make a real impact on the conversation.
“An Island of Misfit Toys”
B: So would you call that a healthy community? Is that a valuable part of the broader Columbia community?
G: Yes. Absolutely.
There have been many times that people have been suicidal on that site.
B: We once saw you talk to a guy between 5-6 am, who was just freaking out. You talked him off the ledge.
G: Yeah. Things like that. Even nightline isn’t like it. I remember, as a freshman, I was scared to call Nightline because my voice is very recognizable, and I thought someone would recognize me, but through that site I felt safe.
We really support each other. It’s great.
G: The long term stability of Bored at Butler is suspect. Only one guy codes it and maintains the site. Like, just this weekend, it went down twice for about an hour.
One of the ideas I proposed was a Bored at Butler support club. Something to convince ABC to fund Bored at Butler. Because I think it is a valuable place. I don’t want this to come from a place of anger, at all, and I’m not angry at all, but a lot of the student life funds don’t go to people like me. It doesn’t go to the alienated students. Does that make sense?
B: Yeah. Much of it goes towards larger events, and that assumes that you are willing, or able, to attend. To feel comfortable at those events. Have you talked to anyone in ABC about getting recognized?
G: The site was down during the beginning of the semester, so it wouldn’t have worked well.
Also, it’s hard to stay anonymous, and get funding. In order to be an official club, a few of us would have to reveal our identities, and that would put us under attack.
I remember one operation that we did: we handed out fliers in Butler saying “I think I can”
We did that, but I wore a mask for that. We wanted to keep our identities.
[This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. A full transcript will be available once one of us overcomes laziness and finishes the interview.]
anon via Shutterstock