Biochemistry freshman Adriana Yarkin thought she was the only bagpipe player at Cal Poly. As she practiced, electrical engineering freshman Sophie Guzules heard the music, opened the Facebook app on her phone and posted on the “Overheard at Cal Poly” page.
“I just overheard bagpipes practicing in the parking lot … I just wanna say thank you to that musician,” Guzules wrote. “I was having an emotional day and your music totally brightened my mood! Have a good one!”
The post received over 160 reactions. One of the comments happened to be another bagpipe player.
“Another piper was tagged in the comments of the post, and I messaged him (this was the first that I had heard about there being another bagpiper at Cal Poly),” Yarkin wrote. “He gave me the email of the pipe major of a local street pipe band, whom I then contacted. I went to their band practice last Tuesday.”
On June 16, 2017, Cal Poly biological sciences alumnus Thomas Eldib created the “Overheard at Cal Poly” Facebook page. Since then, the page has grown more active and now has more than 8,000 members. The page has gained 1,200 new members since September 1 alone. In the last 60 days, there have been 61,800 reactions to posts and over 3,000 comments made.
“It’s my pride and joy,” Eldib said regarding the page.
On the page, members post quotes from other people’s — often strangers’ — conversations without their knowledge. Members will only find out that they have been listened to if they discover their quote on the page. The posts oftentimes include the location where the poster heard it, as well as a vague description of the quoted person.
Cal Poly was not the first university to create an “Overheard” page. Many other universities — such as University of California (UC) Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, UC Los Angeles and Yale University — have similar pages.
Quotes are not only limited to Cal Poly students, either. Phrases that professors and parents say are also commonly posted. On November 2nd, a parent volunteer who runs the Cal Poly SLO Mustang Parents Facebook page, Traci Holmes Libby, found a quote about herself on the Overheard at Cal Poly Page.
“The post, ‘the Devil works hard but Traci Holmes Libby works harder,’ is I think intended to be a compliment alluding to the fact that I work hard to reduce some of the frustration of the Cal Poly’s Byzantine processes by explaining things in careful detail and providing timely info. It’s kind of analogous to the “Not today, Satan!” meme, which I think is a terrific (and hilarious) compliment,” Libby wrote.
The Cal Poly SLO Mustang Parents Facebook page has over 14,000 followers and is not affiliated with the university. Although it differs greatly from the content found on the Overheard at Cal Poly page, Libby wrote to Mustang News about her passion for the sense of community at Cal Poly that she has experienced through running a Cal Poly Facebook page.
“I love the close community of the Mustang family and that students and parents help each other and are kind to each other,” Libby wrote. “The world needs more of that, so anything we can do to help each other out and reduce a little stress along the way is a good thing.”
Chemistry junior Morgan Moretti recently discovered that someone posted something she had said on the page. For her, the Cal Poly Overheard page is a unique way to relate to other students on campus and find a sense of community.
“I think that the page is a really fun way to kind of bring campus closer together because we’re all in the same place so it’s nice to know other people are saying things that you can relate to, and it’s a fun way to see what’s going on around campus!” Moretti wrote.
Eldib wrote that, since creating the page, people sometimes recognize him as the administrator. But he has noticed that people will deliberately try to get their quotes on the page when they are around him.
“I get recognized all the time in classes and parties and stuff. ‘Hey! You’re that Overheard at Cal Poly guy!’ But no one I actually know treats me any differently, other than constantly saying crazy things in an attempt to make it onto the page,” Eldib wrote.