OPINION: Fending off ‘Fizzimism’

(Joanne Oh • The Student Life)

For many of us, mindlessly scrolling through Fizz in the lulls between classes and clubs is part of our everyday routine. A social network that connects students from all of the Claremont Colleges — like YikYak, but just for the 5Cs — the app has seamlessly integrated itself into our lives, providing comfort, distraction and validation all at once.

 

As a first-year, my first glimpse of a so-called authentic college life at the 5Cs was through Fizz. I joined Fizz as a way to navigate my way through those tumultuous first weeks, figuring out the best dining halls and scrolling through advice from upperclassmen. But as I later realized, there was a trade-off: Using Fizz early dampened my hopeful enthusiasm about college. Complaints and hot takes about the schools filled my homepage, stamping out my blissful idealism. An incoming first-year’s simple inquiry about whether or not there were parties, for example, was met with responses of “there are parties. bad ones.” and “Just go to USC and UCLA parties if it means this much to you omg.”

 

Some people might say that Fizz serves as an inevitable reality check on college life, but the more I reflected on the posts themselves, the more I questioned this narrative. It seemed to me that rather than portraying the truth, Fizz may be creating a culture of negativity about the 5Cs that is largely unwarranted.

 

There is little doubt that Fizz contributes to an disproportionately pessimistic view of the 5Cs, a phenomenon that I am unofficially dubbing “Fizzimism.” Studies have shown that people generally pay more attention to negative rather than positive news. Since Fizz relies on a system of user engagement through upvoting and downvoting, negative posts inevitably gain more traction. This incentivizes users to post more negative content — regardless of their true feelings — as doing so promises upvotes and potentially a spot on Fizz’s leaderboard. The rewards, while seemingly insignificant, grant the user bragging rights in their friend group, not to mention the sweet validation of knowing that one is, in fact, funny.

The excess amount of posts criticizing parties, dining and the student body contribute to a discouraging outlook on the 5Cs. This can often affect students before they even arrive, as it did to me before I came to Pomona College. These posts build disappointing expectations about the school’s environment, which makes it harder for students to put themselves out there and engage with the 5C community.

 

It is crucial for students, especially newer ones, to build a community in college to gain social connection and a sense of belonging. Constantly seeing pessimistic content can subconsciously influence one’s decisions in building such a community. Students that hear negative comments about school activities might be discouraged from meeting others and taking part in these activities. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy: The expectation that a certain party will be unexciting draws apathetic attendees and a party that is, in fact, boring. I felt this early on when talks of how boring the first-year orientation parties would be actively discouraged me from going to them, even though I would have enjoyed them had I entered with a more optimistic attitude.

 

The excess of “Fizzimism” on the app also prevents us from being more appreciative of certain benefits that we have as students here. Complaints about food portions and posts calling the dining halls “mid” and “overrated” prevent students from realizing that 5C dining is far better than the average university dining hall, with most of the Claremont Colleges making the list of the best college food in California.

 

Although I may seem critical of the app, I do admit that Fizz has a host of benefits: It creates a sense of school identity, connects students and provides a medium of expression. Eliminating its use would not only be unrealistic but would also deprive students of its useful features. That is why instead of deleting it, students should consider reducing their use of it — either through self-imposed limits or app restrictions.

 

If that is also unrealistic, users should at least scroll mindfully, with the knowledge that popular posts are disproportionately complaints and are not reflective of students’ general opinions of the 5Cs. It seems obvious, but with the stress of everyday life, it’s easy to allow Fizz to inflate such feelings of discontent. Recognizing that the posts aren’t always indicative of actual life at the 5Cs is a small but crucial first step in changing students’ mindsets around life here as a whole.

 

“Fizzimism” isn’t a devastating issue, but it can affect all of us. With the risk of sounding like an out-of-touch Luddite, maybe it’s time to close the app and experience the 5Cs as they really are, at least for a little while.

 

Anjali Suva PO ’27 is from Orange County, California. She loves watching horror films, reading fantasy books and just about anything that allows her to avoid touching grass.

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