Taking it to the Street
Students in the Street: love it or hate it, it's probably made you laugh; it's probably made you cringe. It may have even distracted you from that oh-so-important paper or--God forbid--a healthy binge of Facebook stalking. (We like to think that our particular brand of college humor elicits only your laughs, but these other side effects are just as likely to occur).
For those of you are unfamiliar with this part of the Echo, it's located in the FORUM section and asks a question to students in order to solicit a funny response and corresponding picture. Every Tuesday night, you may see a gang of mischievous looking Echo editors making their rounds in Miller Library, the Spa or even the Quad on a sunny day. Or maybe you just look at the Jokas' ad and happen to see the provocative pictures above it. Then, of course, you wistfully litter the pages on the floor of a bathroom stall; that, or you toss it into a nearby garbage can (we all know it's not going to be recycled).
You're probably already bored with this rhetorical moment and I'm tired of continuing it, so I'll cut to the chase: we are--dare I say--oppressed. Oppressed! Every day I roll out of bed, crushed under the brutal weight of academia, socialphilia (and phobia) and the infamous (that-which-should-not-be-named) disease known as politically-correctnephoria. Of course we are here for academics more than anything else, but it appears that the social atmosphere of college demands that we learn not only to hold our alcohol but also our tongues.
It appears that discourse (civil and uncivil) always ends in the persecution of those pariahs that wish to raise important issues. Often, the discussion strays into assessments of personal character more than anything else. This degeneration from intelligent discussion to catfights appears to boil down to tastes in appropriateness, and I feel that this causes a police state effect on the status of humor. But, alas, I am crippled by my own vantage point: I would like everyone to know that I am not trying to colonize anyone with my standards of humor by telling them what is funny and what is offensive. Rather, I'd propose that a grain of salt should be taken with the practice of taking of too much salt. Remember kids: too much sodium may lead to heart disease. That said, I fear for everyone's humanity if we lose our hearts.
Stasis appears to be a socially-accepted value on the Hill. Translation: don't rock the boat because the undercurrent may kill. I get the vibe that we are expected to cycle through the standard social jargon rather than express what's on our mind. Such normative phrases include: Are those new Uggs? Did you know A and B are hooking up? Dude, I'm on my tenth-- wait eleventh--beer! You don't understand--I'm SO much more screwed for MY work. You get the idea. I am no social anthropologist (I am relying heavily on Colby stereotypes here), but I think you get my point.
It seems that the free play we do possess is poured into a red Solo cup at the end of the week. Students get tired of fitting the mold and thus transform into people of the bottle on weekends. Well, if the state of things requires us to consume massive amounts of alcohol in order to say something base and fall over ourselves, then I think we have a larger cultural issue. (Well, I guess that's kind of obvious if there's a committee on that, and a nifty hard alcohol ban to match). Our options are either drunkenly act out, or you say something completely outlandish, both of which impede being true to yourself. We are faced with radical individualism or the anonymity of fitting in. It seems as if these are our only options besides attending an Improv Club show (by the way, your services are appreciated).
We live in a fairly self-conscious community within which our visceral reactions may impede the truth and the intent behind the words of others. We pride ourselves on the openness and close-knittitude (here's another made-up word to add to the list) of our community on the Hill, but it appears as if our conversations are polarized into silence or shouting contests. By doing either of these, we convolute our idea of reality, with our ideals of how the world should be.
As I said, I can't define another person's reality as to how they experience humor, and I don't want to. I would, however, like to lobby for a reawakening in humor tolerance. Before you laugh and before you criticize, process the intent; then communicate your concerns after you have done that. If you come to the same conclusions, then you have every right to voice your opinion.
Yet therein lies a major volatility in this line of reasoning: laughter and lack thereof can educate and it can also instigate. But then again, I am a child of darkness: hear me roar. Hear me complain. Perhaps channeling poet Allen Ginsberg can help me craft my last thoughts.
I see the best minds of my generation destroyed by silence, starving quietly humorless, dragging themselves through their perfectly angled streets looking for a happiness--nay a let-me-get-by--fix. So you're probably feeling cheated by my lure of Students in the Street. I'll address this: next time you read this section, I would like you to laugh. If not, then I hope you aren't offended. At least, that wasn't my intent.