BBA: Behind Blueno’s Admins, EXCLUSIVE Interview

       This Sunday, I had the distinct honor of interviewing some of Brown’s most renowned: the Moderators of the Blueno Bears Admirers page. To maintain their anonymity, their names will not be mentioned during the course of the interview transcript. They will be referred to as Moderators 1 and 2 (numbers assigned by alphabetical order.)

This interview has been edited for clarity.

 

Why keep your identities a secret?

Moderator 2: To maintain the mystique of Blueno. We didn’t invent Blueno, and it’s not our symbol to define; we want people to have their own ideas of what Blueno means to them. It’s also easier to pour your heart out to a lovable, loving teddy bear instead of being self-conscious about the admins who run the page. And it’s harder to send us personalized hate mail when you don’t know who we are.

Moderator 1: On BBA, every post is anonymous, so to keep in style, we should be anonymous, too. We want to be cognizant that people of different backgrounds and identities can project themselves onto Blueno, and we don’t want to stand in front of that. We don’t want the dynamic to be swayed or changed by their perception of the people fronting everything, so we think we’ll stay behind the bear for now.

 

What made you decide to start Blueno?

Moderator 1: Because we’re a bunch of narcissists! Just kidding, there are other reasons, too. Our predecessor Brown Bears Admirers was like a little bit of magic on campus. It made people really happy. It was an important part of campus culture. There’s definitely still a need for that kind of a platform on campus. I had never received a BBA post about me, and I really wanted one, so I was like, hey guys, let’s make a platform for this.

Moderator 2: I really missed BBA after it disappeared in August. I find other online communities at Brown so interesting. They don’t just exist in isolation; people talk about them, and they shape the discourse on campus. They’re just Facebook pages, sure, but they can also legitimately affect people’s lives in a very tangible way. And of course, they’re always making people’s days a little brighter.

 

How did you start Blueno, and what was the process like?

Moderator 1: We’d been toying with the idea for a while. When Brown Bears Admirers disappeared, everyone on campus was like, “Where’d they go?” Including me. I wanted admiration posts. So, I started prototyping how people would submit things, the moderation process, all that. I ended up following the same tried-and-true Brown Bears Admirers model, primarily built on Google Forms, with a bunch of extra formulas and automation built into Google Sheets. I finished developing it around August, and our first post was on September 9 by (Moderator 2).

Moderator 2: I thought that was you!?

Moderator 1: No, I’m sure it was you.

Moderator 2: I remember the Blueno the Bear page already existed for years; you (Moderator 1) reached out to whoever ran it.

Moderator 1: Yeah, it was owned by a Brown student who graduated a few years ago. I decided to build the secret admirers page from the perspective of Blueno because I thought it would be cool. The Brown alum was down. I pulled the original BBA icon into Illustrator and Photoshop to make it look like Blueno, sort of a visual parody of the original, to communicate that we’re building from the original spirit of BBA.

 

What about the name?

Moderator 2: The page was initially just Blueno the Bear. But people referred to it as BBA, because it was easier and people knew that it meant the admirers page. So we changed the name to Blueno Bears Admirers.

 

What are some issues you face as moderators? What do you do with  controversial content? Do you ever receive any?

Moderator 1: We get controversial content every day. We have like hundreds, thousands of submissions, but we read and discuss every single one amongst the board of 8 undergraduate students. We spend so much time discussing and editorializing what we should post, and what we shouldn’t. The group chat is always rife with debate. Is this post being sex positive, or is it making an individual uncomfortable? Is this post celebrating an identity, or demeaning it?

Moderator 2: The point is, there’s a ton of social factors in play with everything we post—how does this post affect members of the community? If we censor it, how does that affect people with this identity?

Moderator 1: There’s this fascinating phenomenon where people dissociated from their own names and responsibilities suddenly talk about ethical matters they wouldn’t say out loud. For example, we had that recent controversy with TAs and RPLs “admiring” their students. A lot of people presume that it’s completely acceptable to be attracted to their students and post about it. This is ethically wrong, a potential abuse of power dynamics, and not to mention it directly violates Title IX. We instituted a rule against RPLs and TAs posting about their students in a sexual or romantic way since it was making people—myself especially—feel uncomfortable and unsafe. We got a really surprising amount of backlash for instituting that rule.

Moderator 2: We have some other rules that we’ve developed over time, for example, that it’s not okay to out people’s sexuality or gender without their explicit consent. We have a group chat where we check in five, ten times a day. So, yeah, we sometimes approve discourse-centric posts if they could lead to genuine productive conversations. We don’t want to silence discourse. The primary goal is to be a supportive, positive community. In terms of the discourse we choose to approve, there are a lot of negative outlooks. Sometimes we comment on posts right after we publish them, to directly respond to the post, set guidelines for the future, or to point toward helpful resources.

 

What do you do if you find a submission is addressed to you?

Moderator 1: I think I react the same way anyone else would. You feel warm and fuzzy, you smile a lot to yourself, then you message your friends, “Did you see this?” and “Who did this?” The only difference between my reaction and yours is that I then perform the narcissistic act of copying and pasting the post onto the page for all to see. Then there’s also the attacks. We censor attacks on other people, we don’t want people to feel hurt from this page. But some posts target us. We’re the only ones who have to see any hateful posts, but that’s sort of a negativity we set ourselves up for.

 

What are some perks of being a BBA moderator?

Moderator 2: Getting to see all the piping hot tea on campus first!

Moderator 1: You know how you open Facebook, and check if BBA updated? We open up a Google Sheet and see posts the second people click Submit. (To Moderator 2) Should I show her?

Moderator 2: Yeah, I think it’d be cool.

(Here, Moderator 1 demonstrated by posting a pending submission. The intake form was meticulously organised and color-coded.)

Moderator 1: We’re absolutely up to date with the drama on campus. I get to promote the voices of underrepresented identities on campus, especially narratives around LGBTQ people, people of colour – discourse people might shy away from if their names were attached to them.

 

When we messaged the original BBA, they said they’re “in transition.” Are they your competition? If so, what will you do when/if they resurface?

Moderator 1: It would be great if they came back. If people wanted to migrate back to them, that’s great! We can’t change that. I’d probably go back to using them. As long as there’s a social platform for positive, anonymous voices on campus, moderated in a socially responsible way, I’m happy. Until then, we’re going to keep having fun.

Moderator 2: We messaged them during the summer and asked if they wanted any help. They said they were “in transition and working on it”. They put out one round of posts in August, then nothing. Then we started Blueno to fill the void and we’ve been able to be much more active. So I’m not holding my breath.

 

What are Blueno’s opinions about Rodent versus Ratty?

Moderator 1: Blueno prefers The Ratty, but he forgives anyone who calls it the “Rodent” if—

Moderator 2: If they leave him a present in mailbox number **** (Moderator 2’s mailbox number censored for anonymity)

 

Does Blueno have any admirers? Who would he admire if he could?

Moderator 1: Everyone knows Blueno has a crush on the Nelson bear. Who doesn’t. He’s buff as hell.

Moderator 2: How could he not? There’s also a torrid past between Blueno and the rock tree, but why bring up history?

Moderator 1: And Marcus Aurelius on equestrian has been eyeing Blueno for quite some time, but who knows when he’ll make a move.

 

What does Blueno mean to you?

Moderator 2: Well, there was initially a lot of controversy about the statue, his funding.  And obviously, lots of schools have a bear as their mascot. But Blueno is his own thing, his own icon, he’s not just a generic teddy bear. Blueno is unique to Brown, Blueno is blue—

Moderator 1: Blueno is blue? Hot-take.

Moderator 2: Thank you. He’s quirky, a little weird, but we still love him. That says a lot about the Brown community. He’s gonna leave eventually,  and I’m sad about that. But Blueno’s legacy at Brown will be here a long time even after he’s gone – ideally, with Blueno Bears Admirers sticking around as long as people want it. Blueno sort of gives us a new life, especially if you consider student activities in his hollow interior.

Moderator 1: If BBA was responsible for your relationship, you’re welcome. If you get married to someone you found on BBA, you are contractually obliged to fly us out to your wedding. (Reporter’s note: The Blog was unable to verify this claim.)

Moderator 2: I think it’s fun how different Blueno is from the statue – he doesn’t stand for the same ideals, and he’s a fun piece of campus culture.

Moderator 1: It’s very representative of our generation, that we’re able to make light of and personify big, unchangeable things. He’s become a part of campus culture. We’ve had some amazing artwork come in from illustrators on College Hill; we had one for National Coming Out Day and one for Halloween—shoutout to Felix Summ and Julia Chu! The world seems really bleak right now, and I think we need more fun, happy things on campus. Untitled Lamp/Bear is going away in a few years, but we’re all creating Blueno, and there’s some permanence in that.


Design Your Ideal Schedule and We’ll Tell You What You Should Be for Halloween


Confessions of a Teenage First Year

Whether you were home last weekend, seeing family members this Family Weekend, or traveling for Thanksgiving soon, chances are — and especially if you’re a first year — you’re going to be hearing the age old question: “How’s college?!” Somehow, a simple two-word phrase can be laced with so much meaning. It goes hand in hand with the dreaded “How are you?!” How IS college, really? And how AM I, really? These aren’t questions you can just answer right off the bat! I mean, okay, that’s not entirely true. You can answer them right off the bat: “College is great/good/okay/terrible! I’m doing great/good/okay/terrible!” But that wouldn’t be the whole story, really. It’s a lot easier to just say “good” when someone asks you how you’re doing.

For first years, it’s hard to properly assess how school is going when we’ve only been here for a month-and-a-half, when most of us at least are probably still settling in and trying to find our way. I’ll be honest, I still have to use Google Maps to find a few of the buildings here. Actually, most of the buildings here. I don’t really know how to answer how I’m doing when I barely know what I’m doing! The transition from high school to college can be quite jarring. For a lot of people, it’s the first time being away from home for an extended period of time; pretty much everything here is new. There’s bound to be some growing pains. And the thing is, I’ve found that no one really mentions that when they talk about their college experience — or at least not at first.

I was a little freaked out at first coming here and having to fend for myself in the great wilderness of Providence. Obviously, I’m not really on my own, but going from living in the same familiar place my whole life to somewhere completely new without anyone to explicitly tell me what to do was a bit daunting to say the least. How long would it take to feel like I actually go here? Fortunately, this initial settling in took less time than I expected, and I’ve really seen that Brown is an amazing fit for me. Now I’m in a new phase of adjustment, trying to find my true place here.

I’m still finding my way. Yes, the hardest part for me — just getting here and getting comfortable with all the new changes — has definitely passed. I’m joining clubs and finding good study-spots and going to office hours and going out and attending speaker events and attempting to eat as well as I can at the Ratty. But sometimes, of course, I do still feel like I’m still a fish out of water, an obviously confused first-year (it probably doesn’t help that my water bottle says “Brown 2022” in big block letters). But that’s only natural. I think when I was younger I kind of assumed that once you hit 18 and/or went off to college, you’d suddenly be an adult. Like somehow a flip would be switched and suddenly you’d have all the answers, and you’d know what to do all the time. What I’m learning, though, is that this idea couldn’t be further from the truth. Here’s the big secret that I’ve uncovered, and that everyone hides: no one completely knows what they’re doing. We’re all stumbling along, making mistakes and living on our own and doing “adult” things while still feeling a little like kids. Or maybe that’s just me — but it’s probably not.

And what I’m also figuring out is that it’s not a bad thing at all to sometimes feel less-than-prepared for the so-called “real world” — that’s what these four years are for afterall. So look, if you ask me how I’m doing, or how college is, I might still give you a one word answer, because that’s just how teenagers are. But of course that one word isn’t all I feel. Chances are I’m always going to be feeling a lot of different ways all the time, and it’s always going to be changing. I don’t feel nearly as nervous as I did a month ago, and I’m sure in another month I’ll have gotten even more comfortable. College is basically just one never-ending, confusing, exciting transition. Everyone is bound to get lost at some point as we all try to find our way, but I’m very glad that Brown is where I get to do that.

 


Top 10 Sitcom Halloween Specials

October is upon us, which means that Halloween is rapidly approaching. To celebrate the spookiest time of the year, I thought it would be a good time to rank the top ten Halloween-themed sitcom episodes of all time.

10) Friends – Season 8, Episode 6: The One with the Halloween Party

Friends may be an overrated show (you heard me), but their one Halloween special suffices. Most of this episode is pretty meh honestly, but it is saved by the most unlikely of sources: Ross. His “Spud-nik” costume – a cross between a potato and the Russian satellite Sputnik – is probably the most ridiculously hilarious costume from any character on this list. And he puts it to good use, besting the pink bunny suit-wearing Chandler in the most depressing arm-wrestling contest ever shown on television.

Spooktacular Quote: “Well, is it fair that all you had to do was put on a cape and now I have to give you free stuff?” – Rachel


9) Freaks and Geeks – Season 1, Episode 3: Tricks and Treats

The arrival of Halloween causes a panic among parents and kids alike here, as rumors circulate that hippies have been infusing heroin into candy bars in an anti-establishment political statement. Though only on the air for one season, Freaks and Geeks quickly found its niche of walking the fine line between significant coming-of-age moments and equally significant fits of awkwardness. With Lindsay beginning her transition between friend groups and Sam experiencing the tribulations of trick-or-treating as 9th grader, this episode achieves both.

Spooktacular Quote: “Rich people traditionally give out the cheapest candy. That’s how they stay rich.” – Neal


8) The Office – Season 8, Episode 5: Spooked

It took a lot of courage for me to choose a post-Michael Scott Office episode, but hear me out. Season 8 MVPs — Erin, Robert California, and Gabe, in that order — are each given their chance to shine here, with Erin at her most poignant, Robert at his most mind-boggling, and Gabe at his most insane. It is a touching episode that is contrasted with Gabe’s horrifyingly hilarious Cinema of the Unsettling. Couple this with a newfound bromance between Dwight and Robert California’s ten-year-old son Burt, and we have an unforgettable Dunder Mifflin Halloween celebration.

Spooktacular Quote: “You don’t live as long as I have without a healthy fear of snakes, Bobby.” – Creed


7) It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – Season 6, Episode 7: Who Got Dee Pregnant?

Most of the time, all It’s Always Sunny has to do to make me laugh is give Danny DeVito something funny to wear and have him waddle around a bit. In this episode, his Man-spider costume (not to be confused with Spiderman) fits the bill. Beyond that, though, this one belongs to the McPoyle’s: Liam McPoyle chugging a glass of milk and screaming “YOU WILL CALL HER!” to Mac after he slept with Liam’s sister will never not be funny.

Spooktacular Quote: “Without my Mario I’m just a creepy, Italian plumber. I look like an asshole here.” – Dennis


6) How I Met Your Mother – Season 1, Episode 6: Slutty Pumpkin

From Ted’s hanging chad costume to the random Angel just trying to get some weed, “Slutty Pumpkin” is an absolute classic. Ted has always been a hopeless romantic, and his attempt to reunite with the penguin-loving, pumpkin-wearing Antarctic voyager who supposedly invented mixing Kahlua with root beer is probably the most blatant example of that. Elsewhere, Barney and Robin’s respective escapades remind us how much better the show was before they got together (This is almost a hot take, but not quite).

Spooktacular Quote: “We love tiramisu. Am I wrong for saying that?” – Mike “Well it’s not really a group activity, is it?” – Robin


5) Curb Your Enthusiasm – Season 2, Episode 3: Trick or Treat

Like any Curb episode, Larry David’s social miscues get him into trouble with a number of furious adversaries. To name a few: he unintentionally whistles a song written by Hitler’s favorite composer in front of a Jewish man, refuses to give candy to kids who appear to be above the trick-or-treating age threshold, and substitutes out every cobb salad ingredient in front of the grandson of the inventor of cobb salad (turns out he was lying). Unlike most Curb episodes, though, this one sees Larry get his rightful revenge in an epic finale.

Spooktacular Quote: With all due respect, Officer, you are not bald. You’ve chosen to shave your hair, and that’s a look you’re cultivating in order to look fashionable, but we don’t really consider you part of the bald community…with all due respect.” – Larry


4) Community – Season 2, Episode 6: Epidemiology

I’m a simple man. If you give me multiple ABBA songs in your Halloween special soundtrack, I will rank you higher up on the list. After some mystery meat turns everyone at a costume party into zombies — and “S.O.S” transitions seamlessly into “Dancing Queen” — hilarity ensues as everything devolves into absolute chaos. Come for the jumpy cat that steals the show, and stay for Ken Jeong trying to bait unsuspecting partygoers into racism by wearing a Peggy Fleming costume (he’s not Michelle Kwan or Kristi Yamaguchi, of course).

Spooktacular Quote: “Leonard, you better back that pumpkin ass up or I’m gonna make a pie.” – Shirley

3) Parks and Recreation – Season 2, Episode 7: Greg Pikitis

The Joker leaves behind a playing card, the “Wet Bandits” from Home Alone leave the faucets running, and Greg Pikitis leaves a peach pit. All of these supervillains know how to make their mark after a crime, and I’ll be damned if Pikitis isn’t the dastardliest of them all. Leslie Knope would certainly agree, as she spends the entirety of this episode ruthlessly trying to arrest her teenage foe. I still can’t believe the bastard hired a fake mother to bail him out. Brilliant.


Spooktacular Quote: “Look – I’ve been very civil so far. But I will waterboard you!” – Leslie

2) Brooklyn Nine-Nine – Season 4, Episode 5: Halloween IV

Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s annual tradition of Halloween-themed heist episodes made it difficult for me to pinpoint the best of the bunch, but, after agonizing over the decision for minutes, I have concluded that the fourth installment reigns supreme. The MVP of the episode is undoubtedly Captain Holt, who is an energetic force unlike ever seen before – viciously breaking through a glass window, threatening to slit Jake and Amy’s bodies from mouth to anus, and constantly referring to Boyle as a “porkchop”. With an elaborate con dating back to the 4th grade by Gina, and Jake hiring a sketchy guy to pretend to be Boyle, this is Brooklyn Nine-Nine at its absolute best.

Spooktacular Quote: “I’m the third in a lot of marriages. I got a nice, soft face so I don’t intimidate the other husbands.” – Fake Boyle


1) Modern Family – Season 2, Episode 6: “Halloween”

Modern Family now is not nearly the show it once was, but this episode is a reminder that it was once an unbeatable entity come awards’ season. The Dunphy family attempts to put on a haunted house for trick- or-treaters, but Claire’s valiant efforts are ruined by a number of factors, including Gloria suddenly losing her accent, Phil desperately trying to rekindle a marriage that has shown no signs of needing rekindling, and Haley dressing up as “Mother Theresa before she was hot”. The episode’s peak, though, is Mitch rappelling down a drainage pipe in a Spiderman costume after finding out that the only people in his office who dress up for Halloween are “tools and douches”.

Spooktacular Quote: “Unfortunately, Halloween for me personally was marred by an incident long ago. Now it’s just a day I have to get through.” – Cam

 


Encyclopædia Brown

The Sharpe Refectory

 

/Not-Ro-dent/

Noun

Very, very mediocre dining place. Affectionately known ONLY as “The Ratty.”

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Overwrought BBA Posts Part 2

#696969

Hey Perkins girl,

I know it’s been a while since we last spoke. You said that it wouldn’t work because you’re so busy, but I just know that if I lived closer you’d find time for me. I’m trying to convince your roommate to file a housing change form so I can be with you- please convince her? I know it’ll be worth it.

-Pembroke boy

 

#700000

@696969- SO YOU’RE THE CREEP WHO’S BEEN LEAVING THREATS OUTSIDE OUR DOOR?!? I HOPE YOU STEP ON THE PEMBROKE SEAL. My roommate had a nervous breakdown because of you. I’m getting a restraining order.

Also, when I said I was busy, I meant I wasn’t interested. Take a hint.

 

#700010

Update: Your roommate dropped out, so I convinced your house to take me in so there would be no vacancies. We can finally be together!!!!!!!

 

#700023-

Today the girl I loved broke my heart. I write this letter from Barus & Holley, the only labyrinth desolate enough to house the remnants of my heart. I thought the distance between us was our biggest problem, but no physical distance (like not even Pembroke-Perkins) could overcome the distance in your eyes. I hope that someday, years down the line, when the restraining order expires, you’ll see the folly of your ways. I’ll love you forever.

 

#700033-

 This post was flagged due to explicit content.