At first glance, Jodel appears to offer a quick solution to know all the ins and outs of the Hillsdale College community with one scroll. For some students who struggle with social interactions in an academic community, Jodel is the easy and obvious solution.
While Jodel may have good intentions of bringing together communities, it’s breaking down our community.
We’ve let the social media craze and the convenience it offers govern the way we interact and stay in touch as a student body. Jodel has devalued face-to-face conversation.
Jodel is a hyperlocal community app that, according to the app’s website, “shows what’s happening in your area in real-time.” Users can post anonymously to the app, and by “up-” and “down-” voting, users can “have the power to decide what a community is talking about.”
Because Jodel allows users to say whatever they want with total anonymity, posting negative or harmful comments on the app does not result in any tangible consequences in the real world. Very few Jodel users stop to think how their posts may negatively affect someone or a community as a whole.
One post reads, “Don’t want to try out the prez ball because everyone has convinced me that if you think it’s fun you are a loser.” Another user made a list of who he thinks are the hottest girls on campus.
Though not all Jodel users are negative on the app — some kind user reminded his “Physical wellness peeps” about a quiz they had the next day — some of the more negative experiences can be harmful.
This kind of social pressure has been linked to self-esteem issues teens face. In 2017, Harvard Graduate School of Education published a study on social media and teen anxiety. The study cited a rise in rates of sleeplessness, loneliness, worrying, and dependence over the past ten years, which the researchers say relates to the increase in the use of smartphones in that time. Further, one study noted in the research said that 48% of teenagers who spend five or more hours per day on the internet have a suicide risk factor, whereas just 33% of teenagers who only spend 2 hours per day on social media experience a suicide risk factor.
The Hillsdale College community could benefit from a platform where students can exchange ideas and have meaningful debates. But an app where people anonymously talk about other people, often in negative ways, is destructive to our community.
If students really had the courage of their convictions, they could make these posts on Facebook or Twitter instead of hiding behind Jodel’s anonymity.
According to the Honor Code, “A Hillsdale College student is honorable in conduct, honest in word and deed, dutiful in study and service, and respectful of the rights of others.”
It’s time for students to take responsibility for their words and actions, both up the hill and elsewhere. Students have a duty to live up to the Honor Code they signed.
The Hillsdale College community does not need an anonymous app to engage in free speech and productive debates. Through “honest word and deed,” we as Hillsdale students should strive to stand behind our actions and not back away from them.
Amelia Teska is a freshman studying the liberal arts.