There’s a soon-to-be sophomore at Lake Zurich High School who is trying to change the way her fellow students communicate with each other on the Internet.
She started a page on Formspring on which middle school and high school students can anonymously compliment other students. Remaining anonymous herself, the student approves all compliments before they are posted to the site. Since it began this past spring, LZ Compliments has amassed more than 2,600 comments. While some focus on external attributes with students saying other students are “so pretty” or “gorgeous,” others focus on students’ personalities or integrity.
One student, for example, boasted to a fellow student: “You’re so kind to everybody, you are brave enough to (openly) talk about your faith, you’re good looking, you’re talented! You have the biggest heart ever!”
The anonymous girl who started the site said that is quite a change from what she is accustomed to seeing on the Internet, where people often post generally rude comments.
“I would see people writing these things and I didn’t think it was right for people to do that,” she said.
She decided to set up the LZ Compliments page that solely included nice comments about others.
“I didn’t know what the reaction was going to be,” she said. “I didn’t know how popular it would be.”
At first, people wrote in and said the site would fail. The student refused to post those negative comments. Soon, LZ Compliments gained in popularity.
“I was just surprised at how many people wrote things,” she said. At first, she would spend hours reading and approving comments. That part of the process takes less time now.
She loves seeing the nice comments, like “you’re pretty” or “you’re nice,” “but I really like the ones that are thought out.”
One person, for example, said that a classmate “is an awesome friend! Thanks for always being there.” Another commended a classmate for being strong, genuine and not caring what others think about her.
The girl who started the site said she has seen a change at LZHS since launching LZ Compliments.
“People do treat each other differently,” she said. “It made me view Lake Zurich in a different way.”
It makes her happy to see that. It’s tough, though, running the site anonymously. While she revealed the secret to three of her friends – and made them promise to keep the secret – she hasn’t even told her own brother, who has received some compliments on the site.
“It’s so hard,” she said. She hears classmates talking about LZ Compliments at school.
“They’ll say, ‘Did you see that comment on LZ Compliments?’ ” she said. “I kind of dodge the subject. Because they don’t know who it is (running the site), it keeps them interested.”
While she is considering revealing her identity to everyone when she graduates, she is also toying with the idea of passing LZ Compliments along to another anonymous student.
“I don’t plan on telling anyone anytime soon,” she said. She added that when it comes to the people posting compliments on the site, she doesn’t know who those individuals are. “People think I know who’s writing these things, but I’m just as clueless as they are.”
She’s happy with the site’s popularity so far.
“I’m really proud of it, I have to say,” she said. “It really shows the power of the Internet.”
Students at other high schools, including Wauconda and Libertyville, have started similar sites, she added.