“Getting a compliment was like getting digitalized flowers and chocolates from a secret admirer,” said Taylor McDonnell, FCRH ’14, after receiving anonymous well-wishes from Fordham Compliments. “It was completely unexpected but it absolutely made my day, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget what the person said. To this day, I don’t know who they are, but I wish I did so I could give them the compliments that they deserve,” McDonnell adds.
Fordham Compliments was started in 2012 when two anonymous students at Fordham created a Facebook page that publishes compliments for Fordham students, faculty, and staff. Anyone can send in a compliment, then FC posts them on their page, tags the person who got complimented, and keeps the sender of the compliment anonymous. FC’s mission is to encourage kindness, empathy and selflessness.
Fordham Compliments has recently started the Senior Project dedicated to the graduating class of 2014. The details of the project are under wraps, but they’re attempting to collect a compliment for every member of the senior class. Anyone can submit a compliment for a senior or any member of the Fordham community.
The mysterious masterminds behind FC answered some questions over Facebook about the creation of the page, the future of FC and the senior project
How/ Why did you come up with the idea of Fordham Compliments?
During December of 2012, I happened to be on my own personal Facebook when I stumbled across the “Dartmouth Compliments” page. After reading up on the movement it seemed like something that was perfect for Fordham. We were going through a lot as a school at that point in time with the Ann Coulter situation, and Fordham Compliments seemed like the perfect way to spread joy and love and happiness throughout the school.
Is it just for fun?
While Fordham Compliments is certainly “fun,” we like to think that it’s about more than just that. We think it’s possible that someone who is sad, worried, or anxious on the inside might think, feel, or act differently if an anonymous compliment acknowledges their kindness, humor, intelligence, or value. And, that person, transformed on the inside, might, in turn, decide to offer another person a compliment, a kind word, or a smile. It’s a pay-it-forward scheme with little downside. Joy begets joy, love begets love, people who like themselves are able to like others.
Why do you choose to stay anonymous?
We stay anonymous because being known would encumber the process of complimenting. People might edit their compliments if they knew we sat next to them in Econ 101. We believe that if we are unknown (and ruthlessly confidential), people will share their feelings more honestly. It’s beautiful and inspiring to think that it could be any one of us in the sea of faces on campus while at the same time realizing that in many ways, it is all of us.
What happens if you get sarcastic compliments? How do you know if the person wasn’t trying to be mean?
We have received very few mean comments in the last 1.5 years. It’s sometimes challenging, though to decide if sarcasm is meant to be funny or hurtful. If we think something might be mean, we just don’t post it.
What is the future of Fordham compliments? I heard that you are a senior?
We conducted a search for two new heads this fall. Roughly 25 current sophomores and juniors applied and two very qualified candidates were chosen to carry on the tradition. They will in turn pick two new people to run the page when the time comes and hopefully this tradition of positivity and love will live on for years to come. Additionally, with each new set of FC managers FC will hopefully grow and expand beyond just a Facebook page. The first manifestation of that was the FC Secret Santa we ran this winter and the next project is our Senior Project that’s in the works. We can’t wait to see what new and inventive things each year brings to FC.
What was the application process for finding the two people taking over the site next year? What were their qualifications?
We got a lot of applications and choosing just two people was hard. The two people chosen to carry on FC are kind, compassionate, hard working individuals who are okay with not being famous campus superstars. We were looking for leaders who understood that the rewards of running FC are private and who were willing to do the work of keeping Fordham’s unique community spirit alive.
How far are you from reaching goal of getting a compliment for every senior?
We’re about a third of the way there! We’re so impressed (though not surprised) at the outpouring of love that has come in the form of compliments for this project. We never cease to be amazed by the number of people at this school that are worth complementing and the people who take the time to do so. However, we can’t slow down now. We need people to submit as many compliments as they can – as often as they can!
Fordham Compliment’s message is clear: spread the love. If you see someone having a bad day, don’t be shy and send in a compliment to cheer them up. Maybe, if you’re lucky, one day someone will return the favor.