a lost zillennial

About that meme page I ran in college

In case y'all didn't know, you are kind of in celebrity company. Just sayin'.

As an undergrad, I worked on the campus newspaper, so I frequently looked around social media at what other colleges were doing to get some fresh ideas. One day, I came across a small school's "crush page" — students submitted anonymous crushes via a Google Form, and the page posted them for all to see.

I have never been one to plan anything, so I made one for my school that night. It was over summer break, so I expected it to be a gag among some friends and maybe some folks who were missing campus.

Oh, boy, was I wrong.

This meme page was the beginning of my journey to becoming the campus Radio Rebel, as it were. And honestly? I was kind of loving it.

a lost zillennial

What even is a crush page?

For a little bit of context, here's the gist. The submission form asks for your class (freshman, sophomore, etc.) and provides a space to write about this person you're pining over. The form did not have a field for the submitter's name. We're not interested in that. Then, provided the submission wasn't too weird (my general guidelines were "don't be racist, sexist, pervy, creepy"), the crush goddess would post screenshots of the submissions.

a lost zillennial A small snippet of what my crush spreadsheet looked like.

Hyperlocal notoriety

Pretty soon, I overheard class peers saying things like, "Did you see what the crush page posted today?" or "I submitted this crush about so-and-so, I wonder if she'll see it." Random students started DMing me asking for relationship advice or venting about their dating woes. That part was pretty weird.

Other colleges and universities in the area started making crush pages and attributed the idea to me as if I had come up with the idea for crush pages. They would message me asking how I managed my spreadsheets and decided which submissions not to post. I had previous experience moderating online spaces, so that part came easily.

I started posting one submission per day, per post, but that ended up not being sustainable because of how many submissions I received — there were hundreds per semester. At that point, I would post 9-10 at a time.

a lost zillennial Per semester submission stats. I was applying for jobs and stressed in general about graduation during the spring 2023 semester, so submissions were closed for longer than usual.

I noticed that it brought people together in a way I didn't expect. When someone was mentioned in a crush, their friends would hype them up in the comments. A few long-term relationships started from posts.

But because I can do nothing unless I full-ass it, I used the platform for non-romance purposes, too.

On Valentine's Day one year, I ran a friend-matching event in which people filled out a form with personality-related questions in a "place yourself from 1-5" format. Way more people did this than I expected, so my solution was to get some help making a spreadsheet matrix and find a way to send out mass email campaigns to hundreds of people... Two skills I didn't expect to obtain from running a meme page. I have quite literally brought this up in job interviews.

I also encouraged people to submit "friend crushes" in the submission form to make everything a little less romance-y.

Once I reached a certain amount of followers, I was added to a secret meme page group chat for my campus. That was interesting... and a little culty.

I sold stickers with my little logo and made probably about $20 total over two years. Big W for me.

Plot twist!

Behind the scenes of all of this, I was exploring my own identity, and I realized I am probably somewhere on the asexuality spectrum. In a way, part of the reason I started all of this was to see how "normal people" thought about love.

That was why I thought it was funny was that people were reaching out to me for advice, but my asexuality actually probably helped me give more pragmatic relationship guidance, now that I think about it.

Throughout my childhood, I assumed people were being dramatic or lying about crushes. Having celebrity crushes was weird, and putting pictures of them in your room was even weirder. When classmates started having crushes, I would choose a boy at random but lose interest in them in about a month (boys are gross, after all).

I remember there was one boy in 2nd grade who liked collecting broken graphite bits from pencils, so I would get them out of the pencil sharpener and leave them on his desk. Another girl noticed I did this, so she started doing it too. Bitch.

I will see people and feel attracted to them, but it's not lust. It's more of a feeling of, "This person seems like they're like me (or) this person is like what I'd like to be, so I'd like to get to know them." Crushes happen, but that's later.

All that to say I was never the intended customer for the crush page. Reading them and laughing with your friends when you see a name you recognize is fun, but otherwise, submitting crushes wasn't for me. At the end of the day, it was all for entertainment and to spread joy.

Happy ending! TBC, but not for me.

I posted a "reveal" about a week before classes ended my last semester of college. I told some friends I had a surprise that they'd hear about soon, and they assumed I was getting married or got pregnant, so that was silly. I got my 15 seconds of fame in the end, which was nice. People approached me and told me they appreciated what I did and how it made them laugh.

A professor took me and a few other senior students out to dinner before graduation, and one of the first things one of them said was, "So, you're the crush page, huh?" So I had to explain to my professor what that was all about. Which was only slightly mortifying.

I made a shrinky dink charm of the page's logo and attached it to one of my graduation tassels before I walked across the stage. I never expected that stupid meme page to be such a large part of my college career, but weirder things have happened.

Today, one of my friends continues the crush page legacy. I keep up with it and ask how she's enjoying running it, and she seems to be having fun. It's kind of weird to see something outlast you in a community. She will graduate soon and hand it down to someone else who probably has no clue who I am. May my alma mater crush on.



Shoot me a comment or start a conversation with me by emailing davstri4077@gmail.com.