On the second to last Sunday night of the semester, a student walks into the Mason Library to work on a paper. Like so many of her peers who are stepping into the library for the first time all year, it’s crunch time, and she’s determined to get to work. She finds a seat with her friends amongst the rows of students who have procrastinated far too long, and attempts to borrow a laptop from the circulation desk, but they’re completely gone. Begrudgingly returning to her friends and books awaiting her at the table, she pulls out her cell phone and tweets. Just 77 characters. But the message, which reads “All the lap tops being lent out at club mason #KeeneStatePblms,” is more than a complaint.
It’s part of the identity she’s created which hundreds follow.
Created just over a month ago, the @KeeneStatePblms Twitter account already has more than 600 followers, something its creator had not anticipated. In fact, she laughs while thinking, “Not even my other account has 500.”
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Inspired by other “problems” sweeping Twitter, ranging everywhere from #FirstWorldProblems to #90sGirlsProblems, @KeeneStatePblms created the account as a joke, intending it to be a humorous outlet where students can read the “things that you think but never say,” @KeeneStatePblms explained. And it seems it’s achieved just that since. Students sweeping Twitter have flocked to the account, many even submitting their own Tweets with the use of the #KeeneStatePblms hashtag.
“I found the account from some of my friends on Twitter that were retweeting or following @KeeneStatePblms,” sophomore Kayleen Reardon said. And although many students have found the account through retweets by their friends like Reardon, the conversation has left computer screens and smart phones and emerged in regular conversation around campus.
“My friends will talk about the latest tweet posted and how funny it was,” sophomore Kirstie Bean said.
Jen Ferrell, the director of Student Involvement, has seen it taken even one step further. She’s heard students say “hashtag Keene State problems” in regular conversation when complaining about issues around campus.
Reardon said the account is so popular because it’s pertinent to what’s happening on campus, and most students can relate to its tweets. Sophomore Kristen Hunyadi agrees.
“I think the account is funny because they usually say things that actually are Keene State problems,” Hunyadi said. With an account dedicated entirely to the concerns of KSC students, serving almost as an outlet to vent, it’s only natural that students and campus faculty could wind up divided over the humor of the account. But thus far, faculty are either unaware of the account or unconcerned for the time being.
Ferrell only recently heard about the account after hearing students reference it on more than one occasion, but believes it’s not harmful in its current form. Like Jana Jacobson, the assistant director of Residential Life and Housing, Ferrell said the account complains about typical problems, like squirrels and the temperature.
@KeeneStatePblms said she watches what she tweets very carefully, recognizing the delicate balance between humor and hurtful statements. She says she usually won’t retweet any submitted tweets which include swears or which identify people by name.
“I didn’t mean it to have any drama,” she said. “It’s just a fun thing, nothing serious.” The anonymous tweeter admitted to taking down a tweet for fear of it being too personal and inappropriate, but has otherwise been careful about what she puts out. It seems that unless the account starts taking a turn for the worse, the college will take no action. Ferrell noted that a few vaguely target specific people on campus, which she said were less thoughtful. But without specifically naming people or participating in hate speech, she said the account could actually serve a beneficial purpose.
“If the thing became a vehicle to a sort of ‘suggestion box,’ it may not be a bad thing,” Ferrell said, pointing out that there are two potential directions the account could take. “Probably until we get to a point that we have something outrageous, I don’t think there will be any move to regulate it.”
Although the account has already fielded some complaints, Jacobson said it probably won’t make a significant impact in terms of making changes on campus.
“If it lost its sense of humor and went more toward real complaining, I don’t know that’s the right forum for it,” Jacobson said.
The Residence Hall Organization, of which Jacobson is the adviser, follows the Twitter account though, to stay up-to-date with what students are saying about the community.
“I think that RHO would respond to things that are in their control,” she said, pointing out that most complaints are petty and students are able to resolve the issues themselves. “Some of that is just, ‘Do you not know how to get that problem resolved?’”
Ultimately, as more students continue to become active on Twitter and find the account, it’ll continue to become increasingly popular. In the meantime, @KeeneStatePblms will continue anonymous tweeting all things KSC for a laugh from her followers.
Allie Bedell can be contacted at email@example.com