Friday, September 19, 2014

‘Awkward’ couples are not amused

Liberty couples, beware.

Yes, you with the your hand resting on your boyfriend’s shoulder, and you, comfortably lounging on the couch of the LaHaye Student Center after a long day of classes, beware.

Going too far — The site may be good for a laugh, but is it really appropriate? Facebook screenshot

Your peers are poised, watching and waiting for an “awkward” moment to catch on camera.

“Why?” you may ask. Well, your candid camera moment could end up on the latest Facebook page “Awkward Couples of Liberty” — a page designed to mock couples around Liberty’s campus that are deemed awkward.

Even though the page is still in its infancy — created less than a month ago — it has taken Liberty’s campus by storm. The page has already been liked by over 6,000 people, accounting for almost half of Liberty’s residential population, and has become a topic of online discussion for over 2,000 of its fans.

Although the site’s founders, Liberty students Jordy Vickrey and Neil Lloyd, have said in the website’s “About” page that they hope the site will “decrease Liberty’s awkward couple population,” the site may have much more dangerous effects on those tagged in photos.

Cyber bullying, invasion of privacy and defamation of an individual or even Liberty University’s reputation are only a few of the issues that have been questioned about the site. As it continues to receive what seems to be unfiltered comments and postings, these effects can only escalate.

“(The website) is controversial,” Vickrey said. “I think it does come down to where people draw the line on how sensitive they want to be, and what they find funny.”

The page’s profile picture is one of the most memorable photos, and has been commented on more than 30 times. The photo, which depicts a male standing on a sidewalk with his girlfriend leaned up against his leg, has received a flood of remarks. These comments range from friendly to downright rude, including its first comment, which insinuates that the girl in the picture is her boyfriend’s dog.

Dean of Students Keith Anderson has commented on this as well as other pictures, listing both the Liberty Way that could be enforced for inappropriate conduct and Scripture that encourages students to alter their thinking on the page to “provoke them onto righteousness.”

“I was offended in my spirit for the individuals who would end up on that page,” Anderson said. “Cyber bullying has a documented impact. Psychologically, it hurts people. It does not make them better. For you to laugh at or be entertained by another’s psychological and emotional composition is just not in good taste.”

Although the aforementioned couple did not request for their picture to be removed from the site, others who have had their pictures posted have become more vocal about their disapproval of being added to the page.

“I love Liberty University, and I do respect the policy,” Barbara Chown commented on her “awkward photo” after many had criticized her for not following the Liberty Way.

“I would also appreciate it if someone can remove this picture, please. If you were in my position, you would want the same thing to happen. This is really quite embarrassing to see all the comments on here.”

In the page’s “About” information, Vickrey and Lloyd also stated that “all seen rude content will be deleted.” Chown’s comment was posted Sept. 14, and as of yet, her picture has not been removed.

Anderson said that he has met with Vickrey and Lloyd and has attempted to establish a filtration system for the pictures and comments.

Vickrey and Lloyd stated that they started filtering content prior to their meeting with Anderson but have now included others to help police the site.

“My thing is we don’t post the photos, and we take down anything that they have a problem with. They just have to message us,” Vickrey said. “We’ve probably taken down about 10 to 12 photos.”

Vickrey said that they have taken down certain photos that they view as too mean or too sensual in nature to remain on the site. However, when asked about Chown’s comment, the two founders said they could not remember seeing her post.

Photos that violate the privacy of its victims and the overly critical, inappropriate and sensual comments still remain on the site.

“I wanted to cut out some of the shenanigans and lighthearted comments that have taken place,” Anderson said. “Everyone has freedom of speech. That freedom of speech doesn’t just give you the liberty to say whatever you want, but also to say the godly things as much as you want.”

The page may have been created with lighthearted intentions, but we as Christians need to discover a better way of handling these “awkward” situations.

Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (ESV).

Calling out our brothers and sisters in Christ by posting their pictures on the World Wide Web is not the way to address “awkward” or inappropriate couple interaction.

If we choose to bear the name of Christ, we need to heed his direction and confront each other in a way that honors him. Public mockery creates division between brothers, while private confrontation creates brotherhood.

12 Comments

  1. It’s meant in light-hearted humor. There’s no need to get so offended by such a simple thing.

    Comment by Jacob — October 2, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

  2. i think this article is funny. the pictures and the page are suppose to be funny and is done to give people a laugh. its not to embarrass anyone just pointing out some of the silly and awkward things couples do on campus, on a campus that gives reps on PDA.

    Comment by brandon — October 2, 2012 @ 11:03 pm

  3. I understand that this page was originally set up with a completely fun and harmless intent, similar to “LU Memes,” and other pages on Facebook. But unlike some of the others, this does involve real people and real feelings. Honestly, it would really bother me if I saw myself and someone else posted on a page, open to public discussion, without our consent. Especially for her sake.

    I think the intent behind it is harmless. But in practice, it’s a very different story. Without permission of the people in the pictures, I don’t think it’s right to post them. And I feel like most people would feel the same way when put in that position.

    Comment by Eric — October 3, 2012 @ 12:50 am

  4. To Shelanne Jennings & The Liberty Champion:

    You do realize that publishing this article will only drive traffic to the website and increase its popularity right? I mean do you honestly think that students will read this and think, “You know, she’s right, these guys are mean and I won’t go look at it…” No, they will go check it out and laugh at these couples who

    Also you just published two of the photos that have the potential to further embarrass the couples. Its one thing to be pictured on a Facebook site its another to be published in a school news paper.

    Way to go champion. Another well thought out article…

    You just made these guys the coolest kids on campus.

    Kyle Scheren

    Go Flames!

    Comment by Kyle Scheren — October 3, 2012 @ 11:11 am

  5. Judging from the comments of some of the more liberal people I know on facebook, LU is a laughingstock and this site is just one more way to make fun of Christ, Christianity, the Bible, and what they call the “University” with quotation marks. I’d say that publishing photos of people without their consent, causing others to blaspheme Christ, is wrong.

    Comment by Lisa — October 3, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

  6. I have to think that numerous critical comments about an “awkward couple” would have to be classified as bullying. In case you’ve never seen the results of bullying in a young person’s life, follow me to work in the ER where I often care for teenagers and young adults who have attempted suicide as a result of the pressure that comes from being ridiculed. It would break your heart. This month is National Bullying Prevention month. Think about how you would feel if you were the person being laughed at and criticized. Then think again before supporting anything that causes someone else pain. http://www.pacer.org/bullying/nbpm/

    Comment by Esther Jennings — October 3, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

  7. Thank you for posting this. My sister and my close friend from Ohio who are both atheist saw this website and they were outraged. They could not believe that people who would inspire to be like Christ would leave so rude comments. They refuse to have any association with this University because they believe that Liberty is full of people that like to make make a public mockery towards others. I do not see the website as this, but I see the comments that are left as this. I am not defending just my picture that was posted on the website but I am defending every non-believer that sees this website and thinks less of the Christian faith.

    Comment by Barbara Chown — October 3, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

  8. I appreciate this article, Andrew. It may be light-hearted fun to the people skimming through the photos, but the people under the spotlight have a different perspective. Thanks for sharing that. It’s not “legalistic” or “taking things too seriously” to address the people who may be embarrassed here.

    Comment by Some guy — October 3, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

  9. Thank you for the best response to this I’ve yet read.

    Comment by Carey Martin — October 3, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

  10. What is edifying about this FB page? Its entire purpose is to ridicule people. Does it encourage? It doesn’t even really admonish. Did Jesus go to the woman at the well and call her a slut or ridicule her? (NO). It does not encourage proper behavior. It merely gains a 7th grader laugh at the expense of those pictured. Is the Kingdom of God propogated? Is God exalted in this?

    Comment by Wesley — October 4, 2012 @ 9:11 am

  11. I cannot have symphathy for either side. The problem here is a lack of maturity on both ends. These couples need to act like adults. If you look at the pictures, how often do you see couples acting like that in public? Very rarely do you see that type of interaction in public. This is college, this is the real world. You are an adult and you need to act like one.
    On behalf of the people who take the pictures and run the page, it is a sign of immaturity. You are judging someone else on how they act. Whether it’s humorous or not, it’s not your place to judge someone on how they act.
    Both sides need to be more mature and act like adults.

    Comment by William — October 4, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

  12. [...] is a safe alternative to kissing that is accepted by many Christian Universities, including Liberty University and the prestigious Bob Jones University as appropriate public displays of [...]

    Pingback by Forehead Touching, an Appropriate Kissing Substitute for Sustained Teen Purity and Cancer Prevention | National Report — June 12, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

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