On the last Sunday of spring break, something on Twitter caught my attention. I read a tweet that belonged to QueensGossip13 and I didn’t like what I saw. Although it was not addressed to me, it was addressed to one of my friends. I instantly followed the new handle and waited to see what would happen with their conversation.
They began to attack her and make fun of her. I was slowly getting angry and started to read QueensGossip13’s previous tweets. None of their tweets had anything to do with gossip, but rather making fun of students behind their back. Out of nowhere, my friend included me and a bunch of people in a tweet to QueensGossip13 to show them she had support.
From this point forward, I should have stayed out of it, but I made the mistake of joining the argument. I innocently pointed out that they referred to our Honor Code as “honesty code.” I also tweeted them showing support for my friend who was under attack. Before too long, I was under attack. Although I antagonized them, I was taking a lot of heat and got very defensive.
One of my tweets was “You know who’s irrelevant at Queens? —> @queensgossip13.” This did not help the situation and, in fact, made it worse.
I continued to defend myself and other friends from very inappropriate comments. Out of nowhere, QueensGosisp13 decided to come out and say they are a parody and students were taking their comments too seriously. This is where I lost it, got fired up and continued to point out that nowhere on their Twitter did it say parody. They were backing down.
QueensGossip13 has been using the Queens University of Charlotte logo, which is against the law. Representatives from the marketing and community relations department tried to fight the improper use of the emblem, but so far have not been successful.
“And to be honest that [expletive deleted] is cyber bullying,” senior Molly Warren tweeted. “You come to college to be something different, not something COMMON.”
When QueensGossip13 was asked what made them want to start this account, they said, “[I] was hanging around with some friends and we just came up with the idea.” They also mentioned the account is much more than just gossip.
The account recently changed their twitter handle to QueensRoast13.
I am a very strong individual. I can take name-calling and being made fun of, but can others? QueensGossip13 has no idea who they’re speaking to. The bigger concern in this situation is harassment and cyber bullying, which is a huge problem at universities across the country. Remember the Rutgers University student who committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge? He was cyber bullied and felt that there was no other option.
I decided to speak with Dr. John Downey, dean of students, about QueensGossip13 and cyberbullying. He first heard about QueensGossip13 just a few days after they started to target students. Downey is not on Twitter, but was contacted by students and staff. At first, the major concern was the use of the Queens logo, but with further investigation and many complaints, the Twitter content became just as large of an issue.
“When it’s a personal attack, it’s not a parody. It’s not,” said Downey. “You don’t get to point out things about people that are offensive. Pointing out something about the way we all react to rumors at Queens that’s a general thing is right for parody.
The dean mentioned that when a parody is done correctly, it is great. He would love to see the school get one. Then, the administrator of the account could use the logo with permission.
Downey’s concern is not with the people who have been attacked, but with who’s next. He knows who’s been attacked and knows they are “strong people”and can handle the attacks.
“If you [the attacker] say I am going to do this to you, my assumption is that you are going to do that to them and you will be accountable for that,” said Downey.
“I have seen students attempt suicide, I have seen students quit the university, leave the university, I have seen students move off of campus, move to another residence hall, I’ve seen students engage in acts of violence against other people all through the use of social media when a person who was saying or writing the thing that was offensive. Their intent was not to do that much harm,” Downey said optimistically.
He wants to point out that the attacker has no idea what is going on in the victim’s life. Maybe one of their parents just passed away, or that they struggle with weight issues. People who cyberbully need to understand that they are not present and cannot see the victim’s reactions, he said. The attacker, in this case QueensGossip13, could be pushing too many buttons that can lead to frustration or even suicide.
Downey pointed out that when a person is attacked over social media, many people can see it. It gives others a chance to like the attacking comment or favorite it. This can result in the victim losing even more self-esteem. The attack becomes instant and widespread when social media is involved.
“Don’t do it [cyberbully] individually on your Facebook, Twitter, to each other, about each others,” Downey asks of students. “It’s not helpful.”
He said doesn’t go more than a week without hearing complaints of cyberbullying.
“If harassment is based on race, gender, sexual orientation, now you’re really pushing the envelope because that is how people identify themselves,” said Downey. “That is their identity. You don’t get to do that.”
The best thing to do in a cyberbullying case is to address the attacker in person and let them know what they are saying is hurting you, Downey advised. If you ask and they still do not stop, then block them. Do not continue to read what they are writing about you. It will just fuel the situation and their enjoyment.
The Office of Student Life offers conflict meditation, but Downey’s parting comments instructed students to do their best to handle the situation themselves.
Tweets from QueensGossip13:
@BrieannaBugatti but yet yo buggatti-less ass feels the need to share your irrelevant comment graduate and be gone ya bish
@thereal_maximus if you really bout that life meet me outside the parking lot at 6 by the lions den then.
i single handedly took down five accounts today to the point they felt the need to snitch #winning
R.I.P. to the hoe lover, the fat dj, the hairy indian, & miss black on black.