“Tired of people being so down in the dumps amid the worst economy in decades, [Purdue University] sophomores Cameron Brown and Brett Westcott—better known as the “Compliment Guys”—have taken it upon themselves to cheer up the campus. From 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. every Wednesday, they stand outside the chemistry building in the shadow of the university’s Bell Tower with their ‘Free Compliments’ sign.” Read the full article at the Chicago Tribune.
Kate Harding over at Salon.com’s Broadsheet writes, “I don’t doubt that Brown and Westcott’s intentions are pure — they sound like friendly young men trying to do a nice thing. And several people interviewed, male and female, said they enjoy the Compliment Guys. But still, if their reasoning for doing this is that “not enough people do nice things anymore,” I can think of a zillion ways for them to give back to their community that don’t involve mimicking street harassment, with only a sign to distinguish them from the jerks who will turn around and call you a fat fucking skank if you don’t act sufficiently flattered.”
I agree with Kate that it’s a tough call deciding if their behavior is appropriate or not. Most people in the Chicago Tribune article said they liked the compliments. But as I’ve said before, even if it’s a “compliment,” not everyone wants to be shouted at or commented on. If it was my campus, I’d probably avoid the area where they stand on Wednesday afternoons. I’d feel more comfortable if they were standing with signs with positive messages or they could hand out gender-neutral, person-neutral messages – “enjoy your day,” “good luck in class,” “have a nice afternoon” instead of loudly calling attention to certain aspects or characteristics of a person passing by. But maybe I’m just more introverted than most.
What are your thoughts?