An anonymous Twitter account run by three local high school students has been gaining popularity and spreading positive messages throughout Elkhart.
Ann Elise Taylor and J.C. Lee
Posted on March 11, 2014 at 10:59 a.m.
Over the past several months, a new voice has emerged in Elkhart's Twitter community.
At first, it started slowly, quietly – just another anonymous account with a few followers that doled out compliments and had a bio touting a mission to spread "good vibes."
Now, almost 640 followers and 1,000 tweets later, @Elkhart_Tweets has become a hub for positivity in the area's online community. The Twitter account, which has been around since early October, reaches out to locals who are having a hard time and showers them with compliments, positive thoughts and messages of encouragement each day.
The Elkhart Truth reached out to the do-gooders behind the account, who – believe it or not – are three local high school students on a mission to change the way people interact with one another on social media.
Elkhart_Tweets started when two 17-year-olds were sitting at lunch talking about other anonymous accounts floating around Elkhart. One of them was dedicated to negative messages and cyber bullying – something they didn't agree with.
"We wanted to put a twist on it," one of them said. "So we decided instead of throwing negative slurs around, we actually wanted to say something positive – make people feel good about themselves instead of making them feel bad about themselves. Pretty simple concept, you know."
The account's first tweet was sent out on October 2, 2013. Soon afterwards, a third, 18-year-old student was recruited to tweet for the account.
Personal experience also made the 18-year-old student appreciate the effect a kind message, a compliment or being there for someone – even just through an online exchange – can have.
"The main reason I hopped on the account was because, back when I was in elementary school, I got teased a lot," he said. "I had to go through psychological therapy and all this other stuff. And I just don't want to see anybody else go through that, so why not just throw a pick-me-up out there instead of bashing them via Twitter?"
So far, the community's enthusiasm about the account and the interactions it's fostered have been better than the three students could have imagined, they said.
One day, while one of them was manning the account, he noticed someone tweeting worrisome, border-line suicidal messages. After sending him a positive tweet, the person sent back a powerful response: @Elkhart_Tweets just saved my life. I couldn't thank them enough.
"I'll be honest, it brought a tear to my eye," one of the students said.
Another of the students' favorite interactions occurred when one of them was trolling around for locals to follow and reach out to. One Twitter user, @jadevira, had a bio he couldn't ignore: "Proud Mom. Two-time Stage 4 Colon & Liver Cancer Survivor. #blessedfromgod"
Immediately, he reached out to her. Their conversation is shown below.
The @Elkhart_Tweets three asked that The Elkhart Truth keep their identities anonymous. The goal, they said, is to keep the focus on the message, not the people behind it.
"We just wanted to do it for the sole purpose of spreading good vibes – not popularity," one of the students said. "We think concealing our identities contributes to the value of the tweet itself. If I were to say, 'Hey, this is ___, you look great today,' it'll be just like signing onto my Twitter and giving a compliment...@Elkhart_Tweets definitely has something special, and I just think concealing our identities is really important."
That's not to say the group hasn't come close to letting the secret slip. Though family members and one other student at their high school know they're behind the account, the three have to be careful when they're around friends – each had a story about having to cover up the truth when people heard their phones "blowing up" with messages to @Elkhart_Tweets.
Once, two of the students decided to see what their friends thought of the account.
"We brought it up, and they immediately started saying, 'Oh, I could totally see you doing that. I bet it's you that does that,'" one of them said. "We just kind of brushed it off, you know."
As far as the future of Elkhart_Tweets goes, the students are still discussing how to proceed. They might reveal their identities; they might pass the account onto other students. However, they have a central goal: To inspire people to spread good vibes to others.
"We would love to, at some point, not even have to tweet because all we do is see our followers complimenting people, doing what we'd want them to do," one of them said. "I think that'd be one of our goals is that we affect people to the point that they start complimenting people, they pick people up – they pretty much do it all for us."
In the meantime, the students will continue doing what they can to bring positivity to the community.
"It's what people do with the good vibes that we give them – it's what they do afterwards with them that really matters," one of the students said. "(I want them) to be uplifting. You know, life's too short to be unhappy. Just to be happy and have a smile every day and know there's someone out there who realizes they're worth it."