Let’s talk about crushes


Column | Help Yourself


I’ve got a crush on you.” The phrase evokes middle-school memories of a confession typically made on notebook paper in a gel pen, never aloud for the object of one’s affection to actually hear. While I’m all about waxing poetic about these instances from our comically sensitive tween selves, I’m also all about growing up and being able to tell each other how we feel (read: “Communicate Love Directly,” my Valentine’s day column in which I told you to just tell them already, man). The recent popularity of the @RU_crushes Twitter account provides us with an interesting adult confusion of two adolescent dilemmas: the crush and how to talk about sexual desire.

The account, which has about 3,000 followers as of now since its creation March 22, seems to be a relatively harmless fad. People submit confessions about their crush anonymously to an ask.fm account and @RU_crushes publishes them for all to see. But tweets are not the stuff of “crushes” at all. In fact, they are far more akin to the stuff your parents wished the DJ didn’t play at middle school dances: more like a sweaty Ying Yang Twins song, less like a whispering Mandy Moore pop jam.

Most of the tweets detail what one person wants desperately to “do” to another person sexually by using lewd detail that I don’t need to recap for you here, because you are an adult human being who understands what the words “lewd” and “sexually” mean. Instead, let’s focus on what this account misses: the meaning of the word “crush.”

The colloquial meaning of the word “crush” implies a general interest in a person that makes you desperately want to get the chance to interact to them. You’re physically attracted to them, sure, but the bothersome part is that you want to know them. This kind of interest in the inexplicable intimidates the ego, making some shy to talk about it and even scared to say it out loud. That feeling of sheepishness is what gives the word its shy, coming-of-age underpinnings. Even the most confident people feel the nervous thrill that comes from fearing the unknown.

But the bulk of the anonymous confessions of these students on @RU_crushes don’t indicate any of the above. They’re just plain vulgar. This isn’t a surprise, since most people would prefer not to attach their identity to a crude statement. But why attach the name of the object of your desire to that statement? These people are your peers. The adult problem then, it seems, isn’t, “how to talk about sexual desire,” but, “where can I talk about sexual desire with no foreseeable implications for myself?” The answer, it seems, is Twitter.

To be fair, the ask.fm page chides users for being too vulgar, warning that, “if you think the ones posted now are bad, you’d be surprised.” I’m not surprised. People are weird. People are sexual. People want to share. People think weird and sexual things and then they share them. I am perplexed, though. Can’t we share on a higher level?

Crissy Milazzo is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in English and public policy. Her column, “Help Yourself,” runs on alternate Wednesdays. Follow her on Twitter for live updates from that one bench outside of Murray hall: @frizzyfilazzo

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