A few weeks ago, a student at Cedarville University tipped me off to the latest craze to hit college campuses: LikeaLittle.com. She only half-jokingly ended her e-mail to me with the warning to "creep with care." LikeaLittle is a new website whose tagline is, "dangerously exciting anonymous flirting experience." Currently it targets college students, but it appears that anyone can post a comment, including faculty and staff.

Although LikeaLittle debuted on October 25, 2010, it appears it's about to go viral. Site statistics show that the number of Facebook "likes" increased by ten thousand since I started researching it two weeks ago (jumping from 2,000-plus to 12,395 upon last inspection). At Cedarville, where I work, Facebook "likes" and "shares" have increased by over 100 percent in the past five days (from 129 to 245).

The website, the brainchild of 2009 Stanford alum Kevin Reas, allows students, in tweet-like fashion, to anonymously and publicly post flirts about people they encounter or hope to encounter. Reas and the other founders say the site functions as a "flirting facilitator platform." He explains that it "was born at Stanford in part due to my lack of game with women."

Once students sign in to their college's LikeaLittle site, they can anonymously post flirts. Upon posting, a student is randomly assigned the name of a fruit, such as "Kiwi" or "Strawberry." Each time a student starts a new comment thread, he or she receives a new fruit name in order to ensure anonymity.

Here are two comments that I plucked from the LikeaLittle pages of several Christian campuses. (The site has arrived at Calvin, Biola, Gordon, Indiana Wesleyan, Grove City, Houghton, and Geneva.) These range from the seemingly harmless:

Male, Brunette. I like how you walk soooo slowly. It's mysterious. And you have cool hair.

to the downright explicit (referencing a Bloodhound Gang song):

Male, Brunette. You and me baby aint nothing but mammals so lets do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.

Although LikeaLittle's administrators are adamant that the site is to remain "a fun and positive community," a place to anonymously flirt, comments can quickly deteriorate into the perverse—and even into sexual harassment and online bullying. To be fair, the site has taken steps to filter out such posts. They state, "If you see a comment that you think is inappropriate, you can either report it to us and we will review it or if [sic] you can immediately remove a comment if you click on abuse and then put in your email."

The other day in Cedarville's cafeteria, I ran into two sharp students, Kim Prijatel and Daniel Sizemore. The conversation quickly turned to LikeaLittle. We all agreed that while the idea of LikeaLittle seems innocent enough, in practice it can nurture destructive habits and mindsets. Kim pointed out the handmade sign she was toting around campus that particular day. It read, Female, Brunette. Already image-obsessed. Please sexualize/objectify.

Elaborating on her reason for protest, she said, "This website is harmful to our university on two accounts. First, it makes our students image-obsessed. Second, the people who are able to use this website are sexualizing and objectifying their brothers and sisters in Christ. The community is now encouraged to focus on sexuality and image and our ability to relate to one another in a genuine way is hindered."

Indeed, there seems to be a new paranoia developing on campus. I have talked to many students who have become increasingly self-conscious because of the popularity of this website. They find it hard to suppress the suspicion that as they walk across campus, somebody is posting something about them. In a follow-up e-mail concerning our conversation, Dan explains this new phenomenon:

Sexual innuendo, misogyny and blatant objectification hide any positive aspects this service might have had. I have to admit … the allure of this website initially got to me. When I first got on, I browsed through a few pages trying to find out if any of the posters were writing about me. The thought of someone possibly finding me cute enough to spend a few minutes writing a sentence about me was slightly enticing. If comments like these continue to spread, people who are susceptible to body image problems will have the idea that they are constantly being judged by those around them reinforced …. wherever they go they will continually be judged by how good/appealing they look.

Because of the potential pitfalls associated with LikeaLittle, some have suggested that Cedarville block access to the site. After thoroughly reviewing the matter, school officials decided against it. They maintain that blocking the site will not successfully stop use because students just as easily access the site via smart phones. In addition, school officials believe that the onus of social responsibility rests on the students. Recently, the school cautioned students not to waste time on this site. But if students choose to, they are to monitor the site themselves while seeking to live out their "values as a Christ-centered community."

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We are now in the season of Advent. It strikes me as ironic that as we celebrate the incarnation of our Lord—his putting on flesh to dwell among us—we have found yet another disembodied way to interact. Then again, it's not clear that those using LikeaLittle will even ever virtually interact with those they direct their posts toward. While some consider it a cute and hilarious concept, it doesn't seem to positively contribute to life together. Instead of wasting time on LikeaLittle, I think it more beneficial for us to practice being fully present to one another and to reflect on what it means to live incarnationally.