I had a strange day yesterday. Maybe it was a lack of sleep from the night before. Maybe it was my no-less-than-four homework assignments that hadn’t been touched. Maybe it was the barrage of emails saying things like “you’ve missed a lot of classes…” or “take a moment to fill out this survey about…” or “vote for your class president…” Whatever tripped the scale, I was frustrated.
It’s all so pointless, I couldn’t help but think.
After stumbling half-awake through my day, I came at last back to my dorm room. The bed was so close and the past 15 or so hours were about to be written off, until I made a colossal mistake. I read a Thought Catalog article.
All the warning signs were there. “40 Things Every College Girl Needs To Be Reminded Of Once In A While,” the title read. I clicked through.
A grammar error on item #2. I kept reading.
40. Items. Long.
Every time I scrolled the mouse I twitched. Disgust and confusion made me squirm in my seat. I couldn’t find the cathartic release of tearing my eyes from the screen.
So maybe I was a little dramatic. But in all seriousness, this article encapsulated every single thing that is wrong with young, college-aged millennials.
Presumptions about heteronormativity, hookup culture, drinking culture, objectification of women, objectification of men, wealth, entitlement, and general vanity were pushed without care onto the reader. If fulfilling every stereotype of a rich, white, sorority girl (not that I personally hold the Greek community in particularly high regard, but damn, at least give them a chance) was the goal of the article, then it was a roaring success. I thought it was an April Fool’s joke, until it wasn’t.
If the article was so bad, then, why did I waste my time reading it? I don’t have a good answer.
As much as I may criticize and rant about articles like this, I am a part of the group that the author is representing.
I’m no sociologist, but it seems obvious that when that representation is spread across social media (as so many smarm-based media companies design their content to do), the members of the represented group are pressured to conform. Which, in the context of this particular article that I read, makes me sick.
I wish the world were different. Or at the very least, I wish I could make my immediate world different. To make it a place where people choose to hold the content they consume under a modicum of scrutiny before sharing it along. To have historic debates or to build an experience that no one else has or to form a personal bond with someone, at any time. To make that the norm, not the exception. Intellectual freedom and expression can be hard to find in academia when the ivy-lined walls are surrounded by groups glittery girls screaming “SHOTS” and chatting about which frat has the hottest guys. But here’s the rub. Even if the author of this article saw the gravity of her sin of being a walking cliché and repented, it wouldn’t matter. Other writers would keep writing, Thought Catalog would keep publishing, and people would keep clicking “share.”
Call me a pessimist, but I don’t think I can change this particular culture on my own.
So instead, I’m leaving.
Yes, dropping out of college.
Some stupid article on the internet isn’t the only reason for me to drastically change the course of my life, of course, but it makes a pretty justifiable case. Things have a funny way of looking smaller from a distance. Maybe soon I’ll be able to shake my head and smirk at the hordes of new people soaking up the vapid college lifestyle, instead of having my heart break each and every time I watch someone near me fall into it. The wasted potential and missed opportunities are sad and constant reminders.
If anybody cares to follow suit in my quest to live an interesting and, dare I say, valuable life, they are more than welcome. But to my peers in college who would rather choose to live according to the whims of their news feed, my middle finger bids thee farewell.