When I first got the notification that @erodr_depauw was following me on Twitter, I had no idea what it was. When I saw @TheDePauw and senior Kreigha Henney tweeting about it a week later, I decided to do some research. A few days later, I found myself corresponding with Erodr CEO Andy Halliday via email as he convinced me not to deactivate my Erodr account.
The one-year-old app, created by a University of Missouri graduate, is described on the Erodr website as a "Local Social Discovery for College Students," but what students actually appear to be "discovering" is a social media created to glorify the party life on campus. Upon first scrolling through DePauw's feed, I saw three posts (pictures included) about smoking marijuana, a set of scantily clad breasts, countless posts about consuming copious amounts of alcohol and one gross photo of fraternity hazing that I'm sure alumni would be just thrilled to catch wind of.
I have quite a few qualms with the Erodr app, but I'll keep it short.
Erodr encourages the mentality that drinking and doing drugs in excessive amounts are things to be proud of. In early August, I had trouble understanding why DePauw students (and alumni) were celebrating the fact that DePauw was ranked as one of the top party schools in the nation. Whether the Princeton Review has factual data to back that statistic up or not, the pride that students associated with the title was disturbing. Drinking in excessive amounts is not cool, nor is it safe, and it's certainly not something to be proud of and boast about online. Erodr intentionally encourages this kind of behavior, posting reminders on Facebook that Saturday morning should bring interesting posts after wild Friday nights.
Erodr encourages users -- namely women -- to post nude pictures and to "make connections" with others on campus. The Erodr Facebook page posted a photo in March of a woman's butt barely covered by transparent, lace undies. The post read: "Sexy selfies are the condiment that gives Erodr its distinct collegiate flavor." So, Erodr would have us believe that sex is what college is all about? I must have been confused to think it was about academia, making friendships and pursuing professional careers. On a campus that has had multiple instances of rape in recent years, one would think women might be careful not to offer their bodies up for that kind of objectification. Even more disturbing are posts from men requesting said photos and expecting women to post them. One DePauw user posted that he was disappointed with DePauw women for posting fewer nude photos than the women at Mizzou. Really?
Erodr further encourages these behaviors by putting a time limit on posts. Erodr boasts that their users' posts "expire" after a maximum of 24 hours on the live streamer, and posts that are disliked by other users are given even less time before expiration. You can also post anonymously once every day and set shorter time limits on your posts. The DePauw Erodr Twitter account tweeted last week: "Imagine...it's late Friday night and you want to share your recent shenanigans with friends on campus and have it disappear by morning..." I would venture to guess that if, when sober, you would be embarrassed by the post you made the night before, you should probably just refrain from posting it. Not to mention, a simple screen shot will capture that moment, and you never know when your internet misbehaviors will come back to haunt you.
As I emailed with CEO Andy Halliday, he explained to me the various ways I can avoid seeing all of this worldly, materialistic behavior posted on Erodr, and I became a little disappointed. The app, in theory, is really interesting. The concept of creating a social network just for the University to share is really cool. But the way it's being used -- and the way Erodr is encouraging it be used -- is distasteful.
So with that, I'll be emailing Andy to let him know I'd like to officially deactivate my Erodr account.
- Green is a senior from Muncie, Ind. with a double major in communication and Spanish.