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Oxfess #999: Help! My Best Friend is Addicted to Oxfess 

Oxfess: the social media platform that broadcasts the woes and troubles of the University’s most prolific over sharers. Yet it also peaks the interest of thousands of other overworked students keen to tune into the latest gossip cycle. It’s where reality TV meets dark academia, a cultural crossover that I never anticipated when writing my UCAS application. And it’s everywhere, having infiltrated the doom-scrolling that marks our generation. The guy sat opposite you on his phone in the radcam? He’s on Oxfess. The girl queuing for an ATS sandwich? On Oxfess. Your tutor on his laptop as you inevitably arrive late to the tutorial. Oxfess (indulge me). It’s a time-killing activity whose immediate relevance to our everyday experiences, its capacity to be relatable in this small city, makes it addictive. Although Instagram reels are just as good too. 

So what has this esteemed establishment brought us? Highlights include the Univ Sh***er, Balliol scurvy, and ChCh puffer boy from the darkest corners of the Glink. Freshers will have to forgive me for such outdated references; this second year has been desperately trying to fight his addiction. The deleting and all-too-soon re-downloading of Facebook is a perpetual loop. To escape, only to overhear someone mention the latest especially salacious Oxfess e.g. Oxwhy did I sleep with both my college parents? Well now I’m intrigued. Ultimately, I pin this university’s cravings for such depravity on its workload. The constant reading lists, problem sheets and lectures leave us wanting more than the academic confessions SOLO can provide us with. 

Yet it can also become too much. The constant stream of a collective Oxford consciousness leaves me wanting to blast white noise, run a bath (one can dream), or just bury myself under the crushing weight of the Bodleian Library. Extreme? Perhaps. But there is a repetitive streak to these online submissions that can make even the most ardent Oxfess ‘top fan’ begin to yawn. Take the classic ‘x freshers as…’ format.. Although I know a particularly good one assigning every Hilda’s first year to a Mamma Mia character, with accompanying pie charts too! Its authorship remains a mystery (apparently it was a collaborative endeavour…). Clearly last year’s admins had good taste. But recent failings have led me to question whether current Oxfess editors do in fact have a sense of humour.  Not sure how I would know that, I never submit anything. That would be embarrassing. 

What is perhaps more embarrassing, while this could be particular to me, is experiencing the bizarre happenings of everyday Oxford life only for my best friend to exclaim ‘wait a second, I have to Oxfess this now’. There are two types of Oxfess addiction; I introduce you first to the ‘mass producer’. A way of spilling your deepest desires (confessing your love for your Oxford crush as you pass them on Longwall), critiquing your ex (toxic yet not undeserved), or expressing frustration at your faculty’s inability to replenish the loo roll. By all accounts, we should rebrand the platform to Oxmoan. But when you start recognising your best friend’s Oxfesses then you should be worried. Should I be proud of my intimate knowledge of your writing style or should I stage an intervention? Either way, your Oxfess about the microwaved gnocchi really made me giggle. Or the time you started the Emma Watson goes to Hilda’s rumour. A startling ability to turn idle hearsay into university-wide chatter has made this infamous platform into an institution. 

The other type of addict is of course the ‘invisible consumer’.The silent majority. 7 people and your college spouse may have liked this Oxfess on Facebook, but hundreds have seen it. I know an especially well-read Engineer who never misses a new release, yet rarely interacts beyond this. But what of those who do? The site has become a road to BNOC-hood, or equally a surefire way of deciding who should be avoided. While I appreciate your japes and banter, tagging someone in an Oxfess so specific it could never be your friend is something I consider a serious faux pas. They’re the people in the subject GC who really need to take it to the DM. I did once get a photo with HN in the Oriel MCR. In the moment I was near star-struck. Who’d have thought mindlessly tagging SH could bring you such celebritydom? 

I do feel for the honest Oxfessers. Those asking for advice, searching for a welcoming society to join, or struggling with the overwhelming experience the University can provide. They have been rather drowned out by the Oxmoaners and gossipers that plague the student body. Myself (hesitantly) included. Scandal and shocking speculation is entertaining; it serves as a momentary distraction from our busy schedules. 

But could I live without it? Would we all be better off without it? It certainly feeds a sense of shared Oxford identity – from Pembroke to Catz to Hertford we’ve all heard the same rumour – yet are there other ways of fostering such a commonality? Something beyond the doom-scrolling and incessant commenting.

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