The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

Will “Brighten” be used for its intended purpose?

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In the past, WJ has created a fairly prominent presence on social media, with many accounts popping up representing the school. 

For instance, the WJ Compliments Twitter account, @ComplimentsWJ, which was last active in October, encouraged its followers to use ask.fm and Twitter to post anonymous compliments.  The account is the third of its kind to have been created specifically for WJ.

In contrast, a WJ Secrets Twitter, @WjTruth, was also created, though used less recently. Like its counterpart, it encourages students to submit “secrets” about other students, many of which were crude.

Senior Ryan Cirillo believes that the account was used for cruel intentions.

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“WJ Secrets was maybe one of the most malicious things I’ve seen come out of this school,” Cirillo said.

The newest school-wide account is the “Walter Johnson HS” profile on the social networking app Brighten.

Brighten, designed originally in 2013, has recently gained popularity as a way for “people to let their friends know how much they’re appreciated”, according to its App Store description.  

Users make friends on the account by sending “Friend Requests”, which may be accepted or denied. Their “friends” can then anonymously post compliments on each others’ wall, which can be liked and/or commented on anonymously.

Brighten lightly scrutinizes the words used, not allowing foul language to be posted.

However, this does not stop the public statements made (or questions asked) from being potentially hurtful.

On the WJ page, posters tend to ask questions that rank other students based on looks, intelligence or personality.   For example, questions have been along the lines of, “[best-looking] senior boy?”. Commentators give their opinion, sometimes rousing debate.

Additionally, on individual students’ pages, “friends” can write hostile things, such as insults to one’s looks or personality.

Senior Shani Kamberi believes that Brighten, though it could become malicious, will be widely used.

“[The app reminds] me of an ask.fm… and ask.fm turned out to be really negative, and I feel like Brighten will do the same, but it will be popular,” Kamberi said.

Ask.fm is a social network where users ask others (who may not have accounts) to submit questions anonymously so they can post their answers with the questions publicly. People have sent in impolite questions and statements to users, often causing trouble.

Cirillo said that social media, though generally beneficial, can cause negative feelings among users.

“It’s definitely anxiety-provoking at times, so that’s something to consider,” Cirillo said. He has noticed that Brighten has already been used not for its intended purpose, though he said most users are using it to be nice.

“I’ve already sort of witnessed that [the app] hasn’t been used exclusively for [compliments], though I think for the most part people are doing pretty well,” Cirillo said.

Kamberi said that accounts claiming to be kind-hearted can end up as harmful.

“WJ Compliments is a nice idea… [but] if you don’t get a lot of likes or retweets, it could hurt someone’s feelings,” Kamberi said. She does not have a Twitter account.

Sociology teacher Geraldine Acquard thinks that students are aggressive on school-wide accounts because of the anonymity aspect.

“Students are generally anonymous [on social media], and people have a greater comfort doing things when they believe that they are shielded from personal interactions,” Acquard said.

Overall, many students can agree Brighten can become popular, but possibly not for all the right reasons.

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About the Contributor
Leila Siegel, Online Feature Editor
This is senior Leila Siegel’s second year on The Pitch Online as the Online Feature Editor. Besides writing articles, Leila participates in the school’s symphonic orchestra and WJ S*T*A*G*E’s pit orchestra. She is also involved in the Black Student Union, Amnesty International club and the Read, Grow, Live Club. In her spare time, Leila enjoys sleeping and watching Netflix. She is excited to see what this year will bring to The Pitch Online. [email protected]
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