PHS PERSPECTIVE: If you can’t say something nice about someone ….

By Pia Chakravarty and Byrne Fahey
   Late January, sweaty palms, chewed up pencils and a chock full library. This can only mean one thing: midterm exams are rapidly approaching at Princeton High School.
   Luckily, amid the haze of stress that lingers in the hallways, several groups have stepped up, taking action to spread smiles among the PHS community.
   Among these joy-spreading organizations is an anonymous group of students who recently created a Facebook page entitled “Compliments PHS.” Any PHS student can message the page with a compliment directed towards another student, and the students maintaining the page will post the compliment and tag the recipient. Students who wish to remain anonymous in sending their compliment can communicate it via a Tumblr page.
   ”One of our goals was to get people talking, and we thought that would take a few weeks, but just after a few days we got 600 friends and 200 plus compliments,” said a representative from the group, who chose to remain anonymous to protect the success of the page.
   For the most part, students seem to be responding positively to the page.
   ”I haven’t taken part in Compliments PHS yet but I think it’s a really great idea,” said junior Meg Brennan. “It fosters positivity and makes people see the good in others, which is something every high school needs.”
   ”I have gotten a few [compliments], but even seeing the ones people wrote about each other literally made my day,” said freshman Cathleen Stanley.
   The students running Compliments PHS have also observed the enthusiastic response.
   ”So far we have had very positive feedback from the students. They all seem to love the idea and many of them have messaged us about the joy of sending compliments,” said a representative of the page.
   Students almost unanimously believe that compliments have a surprisingly positive impact on a person’s self esteem, especially in today’s often hostile social environment, which can turn nasty online.
   ”Often when I’m at school and stuff people seem sadder … and will openly say bad things about [each other] in a non-joking manner” said [cki: : ]Farris. “It might be just because of the pressures [of] society.”
   ”It was so reassuring to see that not every part of our school was bad, but that we all genuinely cared about each other.” said Stanley. “In fact, I saved the compliments I received to read whenever I’m having a bad day.”
   Senior Joyce Huang agreed. “I think what [Compliments PHS is] doing is pretty amazing, and it really brightens up that person’s day.”
   Compliments posted range from silly, informal shout-outs, clearly incorporating as many inside jokes as the author could manage, to sincere, heartfelt paragraphs expressing deep thankfulness for one’s friendship.
   However, while most students laud Compliments PHS for its positivity, others worry about possible negative effects.
   ”I have seen some not-so-complimentary compliments, but 99.99 percent seem great,” said Huang.The students running the group are well aware that the page’s purpose could be abused.
   ”There are some people who send nasty comments and we try to censor them, but occasionally some of them do get through,” said a representative. “When we find them we take them down. If someone receives a nasty comment, it feels ten times worse.”
   Other students worry that the simple matter of other people being able to view the compliments could bring about problems.
   ”I guess some kids might feel left out after seeing all their friends get a compliment while they still haven’t,” said Kelly Peretzman, a senior. “Or some people might get a little cocky over how many ‘likes’ their compliment has gotten, etc.”
   But, “at this point, it’s a nice little thing to have, and I think that a wide majority of our school can handle it,” Peretzman added.
   Students also wonder if Compliments PHS might devalue a compliment given in person.
   ”Not only does someone get to hear someone say ‘I think you’re really cool and funny’ but they can have all 653 of their closest friends see the post and think ‘yeah, so and so is really funny,’ said Farris. “In short, there’s more attention gained from a Compliment PHS compliment than just a regular compliment.”
   As for the future, students do not seem to think that interest will peter out.
   ”I think it will be popular in the future,” said Brennan. “It seems like kids enjoy complimenting their friends and people they don’t know too.”
   Compliments PHS also sees a future for the page.
   ”We just want people to keep on sending in compliments and having fun. We want to make sure that this page is around for a while.”
   Pia Chakravarty is a senior at Princeton High School and Byrne Fahey is a junior.