Oscar Wilde once wrote, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” I think it is fair to say that these lines succinctly summarise the core issue with Oxfeud. In polite conversation, the hurtful and nasty is almost always absent. Reasonable disagreement is ideally addressed out in the open, in the spoken form, in person. After all, exactly how many of us can remember at least one keyboard rant of some description or another? Having anonymity (though probably only to some extent) in publishing our hurtful comments about others definitely doesn’t reduce the harm which is caused to their subjects upon reading them, and probably doesn’t reduce the likely regret that the author has for what was written all that much.
More fundamentally, how much time do we realistically have to spend on making petty negative judgements about our peers, never mind expressing them publicly in writing, online? Oxford is such a busy place, in which even the most efficient amongst us, in addition to the most ‘fulfilled’, regret not having pursued particular pathways and explored individual facets of being.
This eternal frustration is especially evident in the community of this University, where so many of us can be characterised at least somewhat by a palpable sense of ambition.
In view of this, it seems to be a great shame that any time at all is wasted by any of us on an endeavour as inherently unfavourable and unproductive as general nastiness. Yes, many of us are prone to needlessly speaking ill of others from time to time, myself included.
However, that doesn’t mean that we should be encouraging and facilitating bad behaviour, in either the active sense, or even in the passive. Indeed, it is very difficult to see what good can come to either individuals or society at any level through the enabling of such behaviour, which Oxfeud so obviously provided a medium for.
It is apparently rather clear why we should be pleased that Oxfeud has been taken down from Facebook. Upon examining the issues involved with the page, it is difficult to draw any conclusion other than that which states that its removal will make Oxford a less imperfect, happier, and all round more harmonious place.