An Ode to Librex: the App you Love to Hate to Love
Connor Allen ’25 reflects on Librex, or as he calls it, “Dartmouth’s collective id.”
Every day on Librex is a new day: a few Tuesdays ago, the only topic of discussion was — as you might guess — it being Tuesday. We’ve now moved into 403 discourse, where all Librex users and abusers have (rather mystifyingly) given their thoughts on people who live in rooms with the number 403. Gone are the constant rush posts of yester-week, nostalgic artifacts of a bygone era; here to stay are self-therapy posts and 4 a.m. M4F’s (for non-users, this implies that the male poster (M) is looking ‘4’ a female).
I should back up: Librex is Dartmouth’s anonymous messaging board, akin to YikYak, but also linked to the rest of the Ivy League. Essentially, Librex is the combination of anonymity with high achievement, ambition and undoubtedly, high-intellect discussion — except no, not really. Librex is Dartmouth’s collective id, a relentlessly addictive hive mind representing everything about Dartmouth that is not seen but thought. It is inane, hard to describe and glorious.
Librex is an app that perplexes you before it grows on you. I wouldn’t go so far as to describe it as Dadaist art, but it retains those same core elements of randomness, meaninglessness and somehow ... meaning? I think appreciating Librex requires some sort of roadmap: first and foremost, it must be remembered that nothing really means anything on the app. It often serves the purpose solely of self-amusement; “hey, let’s see who can get the most upvotes!” Or even better, “how about downvotes?” My submission to that contest won handily: “Let’s make this the most upvoted post on Librex!” Surely enough, betting on Librex’s endlessly contrarian spirit, it received hundreds of downvotes over the next hour. I won, I guess?
The point is, Librex is an unwieldy beast, always willing to make fun, downvote, belittle and confuse. Similarly, the rumor mill must be disregarded almost entirely. It is incredibly easy to lie when it has no effect on your credibility — and in this way, Librex should not be considered a particularly reliable source. I think there is beauty in Librex’s chaos, so long as it is recognized for what it is: a cesspool with no redeeming value other than some level of cynical self-amusement.
I do think Librex responds well to tone. In fact, there exists a sort of collective vocabulary and voice that suggests Librex might be dominated by one person with too much time on their hands. This tone, characterized by absurdity, nihilism and odd non-sequiturs, dominates 80% of the posts, and is responsible for the jumble of ideas, thoughts, resentments and accusations of impersonating another person (known as psy-ops) that make up the heart and soul of the Librex community.
Still, serious posts generate marginally more serious responses — and all-too-often calls for help are met with authentic concern. It becomes clear that Librex is a sort of act we all buy into, wherein generally less-acceptable-in-public behavior is tolerated up until real people illustrate real concerns. Similarly, Librex responds swiftly to racist, misogynistic, sexual violence-related or otherwise unacceptable comments — as immediate, numerous downvotes very clearly illustrate that the spirit of callousness on the app is all well and good until obvious lines are crossed. In this way, despite existing as a means of venting, disrupting and reflecting with no repercussions, Librex is — against all odds — a welcoming place, where anyone can be mean to anyone. Like some jarring piece of avant-garde art, Librex takes time and effort to appreciate. Maybe that’s giving it more nobility than it deserves; or maybe not enough.
Equally important is the Ivy League side of the app. For those not as hopelessly addicted, Librex is divided into two sections. One is composed solely of anonymous Dartmouth students, while the other is open to any user in the Ivy League — what could possibly go wrong? As you might expect, far too many discussions focus on the relative rankings between the colleges. This perhaps epitomizes what Librex does for us all: It allows us to indulge in discussions and arguments we’d ordinarily know better to ignore — but with anonymity, anyone with thumbs can make fun of Cornell without consequence. The app is objectively toxic, but it only infects to the extent that you let it — and at best, such discussions are non-productive and harmless. I think Ivy League students are all intelligent enough to recognize this, and Librex might simply allow us to just say dumb things for a change.
My absolute favorite genre of posts are the ‘M4F’ types of romantic calls that appear in the Ivy League side of the app. Several logistical concerns are thus presented: First, none of the schools are near one another. What advantage would therefore be gained by begging for a link-up in the Ivy League channel rather than the single-college channel? Second, what happens when someone (the mythical F 4 whom the M searches) actually matches with the poster? A quick trip to Ithaca? I’d love to see some statistics on these types of posts to piece together the larger narrative and calculate a success rate.
There is also the looming threat of merging with our rival: Calibrex, the exact same thing but with elite West Coast schools. Personally, Librex is already a wonderful mess — and I can’t see anything going much worse by including a certain Palo Alto University and a few others.
Yes, Librex is a wasteland of half-baked jokes and random cynicism, but as it stands, I revel in its chaos. At the end of the day, it is fully a community — for better or worse, and I think that gives it some level of merit. So long as the moderators keep doing their job in giving zero tolerance to legitimate hate of any kind, may Librex live on.
I yesterday posted a request for a moderator to briefly explain to me the guidelines and standards for Librex for the purposes of this article (i.e. what crosses the line). What I received, however, was the most Librex-y possible reply from a non-moderator: “anarchy, f**k you.” I should have expected nothing less — and as an admission of my own naivety, upvoted it.
Of course, I’m a ’25, and the app will likely get old very quickly (as I’m sure it has for many upperclassmen). But as of right now, when consumed in moderation, my experience has been largely positive — of course, I can’t vouch for everyone and it is clear that the app could lead to real harm. I’d welcome a follow-up explaining how my own detached amusement regarding the app might not be possible for everyone, especially those who’ve felt more personally victimized by certain discussions. I’m almost certain this article will find its way to the app, for all roads lead to Librex — in that case, please give me an upvote.