Point Loma Nazarene University students poured out of chapel on the morning of Jan. 30, like they always do on Mondays. As they strolled down Caf Lane in search of a coffee or their next class, a smiling group of donut wielding students awaited them. Their proposal was simple: download the Fizz app to get a donut and one of their flimsy bucket hats.
This wasn’t an uncommon scene on Caf Lane after chapel. Churches, study abroad programs and various clubs have maintained a steady presence on Caf Lane for years. However, this group of people was promoting something different.
“Get Fizz, get a donut,” was the ambassadors’ quick pitch to reel students in. They promoted it as just another social media app where you could post funny jokes, reveal secrets, or create polls for people to vote on and it’s all anonymous. What could go wrong?
It seemed as if nothing could go amiss, or at least that was the case for one student who was hired by Fizz to be a moderator on the app. According to the student, who requested to remain anonymous, Fizz proposed the app to them as a fun way for students on campus to connect through memes, polls and confessions. The student felt remaining anonymous was the wisest decision moving forward, as they look to completely cut ties with Fizz.
“It sounded too good to be true and I should’ve known that it was,” the anonymous moderator said. Between the pay of $500 a month, light working requirements and fresh opportunity with a start up social media app, the chance to work for Fizz seemed like something that would have been foolish to pass up, according to the student.
The anonymous moderator wasn’t the only student who was initially intrigued by the opportunity to work for Fizz. Another student, who also requested to remain anonymous, was hired to promote Fizz for just a couple hours on Jan. 30, when Fizz launched on campus.
Despite being obligated to give their time to Fizz for just the promotional event, the anonymous student ambassador ended the day feeling just as uneasy as the student moderator who was locked in with Fizz until at least the end of the month.
“I had heard about Fizz from my friends who attend bigger schools and I thought it sounded super fun. After I interacted with the people at Fizz, it got shadier and shadier. It was definitely a little weird how they ran things,” the student ambassador said.
The students, who both stepped away from the company just a few days after helping promote it, realized it wasn’t something they wanted to be associated with. The whole purpose of the app is to be anonymous. However, when actively advocating for it, you cannot hide behind that anonymity, which became concerning for both students.
“I still would have downloaded the app,” the student ambassador continued. “There are a lot of wholesome jokes on there, but I didn’t want to associate myself with it anymore.”
While Fizz may not be the ideal workplace, the two students agreed that it can be a creative space for a community to make jokes, as it is promoted to be in the Fizz slogan and flyers. However, PLNU faculty see things differently.
“I genuinely love connecting with humor… my personal perspective is that the anonymous nature of this app actually limits connection,” said Dean of Students, Jake Gilbertson, in an email interview.
Gilbertson recognized the entertainment factor of an app like Fizz, but with posts being anonymous he questioned Fizz’s ability to create a real sense of community.
“There are almost always positive and negative aspects to social media… but I believe that anonymous social media creates more negative outcomes than it offers positives,” Gilbertson said.
Gilbertson sent a campus-wide email with a message to this effect a few days later.
Based on the experiences of students hired by Fizz and the negative feedback from PLNU administration, the app’s potential to be a hub for the campus community is questionable. As one digs deeper into Fizz, the students were able to explain how the app continued to reveal itself as something that was too good to be true.
“I was required to post 40 times a day and that was asked of all the workers,” said the anonymous moderator. The student continued by saying, “Essentially everything you see on there is all from the moderators.”
The anonymous students said that if they had decided to remain employed at Fizz, the app would have asked them to decrease their amount of posts each day. While it is community engagement that is raved about on the app, the content is mainly the result of a select group of students who will begin to decrease the amount they post. Fizz might just ‘fizz’ out.
Yet, according to the anonymous students, the positive feedback is there. People find the content funny and engaging, but this isn’t the school wide movement that Fizz portrays it to be.
“My hope is that Loma students can be honest with themselves and make the best choices,” said Gilbertson. The future of Fizz and its presence on campus is still up in the air, but for the time being it will be up to each student how far they take the jokes on this anonymous app.
Written By: Nick Hancock