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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Apt Caricature of the Internet Generation

There has been an article floating around the internet called "20 Ways to be Popular at an Expensive Liberal Arts School." While I technically go to an expensive research university, not liberal arts school, I think it's a pretty funny microcosm of the type of vapid contrarian counter-culture that the left has morphed into in this generation. The list is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but it wouldn't take long on any campus I know of to find some pseudo-Marxist who would agree with the principles presented - "The more things you take offense to the better. Throw terms like sexist, racist, and homophobe at everyone/everything that has the audacity to disagree with you. The more you use these terms the more valid they become, so try to squeeze them in every other sentence."

Of course, that is probably a timeless principle of campus lefties. Maybe one item on the list more particular to my generation would be the "rise of the hipster" or our modern day spoiled-brat-turned-hippie. Characterized by their obsession with fetishizing the 'authentic' (largely through trying too damn hard to be authentic) number 17 of the list hits the mark quite well:
"Remember those shirts you wore in 4th grade? They’re definitely cool again. People will find your Spongebob Squarepants shirt refreshing, ironic, and above all absolutely hilarious. Match it with a scarf and nonprescription glasses (the thicker the frame the more serious you are) because you’re not all fun and games. You’re an academic, a political activist, and a poet/author/musician/artist."

The sixties had hippies and anti-war protestors, but my generation just sort complains about ... well, not much. But by golly we are good at complaining (see 5 & 4)! Since I have been in college, I have seen multiple "takeovers" of college buildings on campuses (Berkeley and NYU, most notably) and riots over tuition costs rising. Say what you will about hippies, but at least they stood for something other than whining about their student loans. My generation lazily bemoans the rise in cost of college, but doesn't even consider that state subsidies and an overemphasis on attending college - even when it is wholly unnecessary - may be at the root of the cause.

In short, if you'd like to know what it is like to be a right-of-center philosophy major (see also, #14) the "20 Ways" list is a pretty apt window into my world.
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  1. My oldest is a history major at an expensive liberal arts college. He doesn't quite care what the other students think, and he does give his professors a run for their money. Luckily too the professors don't seem to pick on him or down grade him because of his politics...so far at least. He is also that one Jewish student who defends Israel vociferously, he doesn't think its cool to play at being stupid.

  2. Thank you for this post. "Lighten up" is good advice, my guess is that it had already occurred to you.

    The Psalms beseech the Lord to forgive and forget the sins of our youth. I needed that.

    Congratulations, Mr. Patriot for your son's proper formation!

    Keep up the good work

  3. Does #2, "Smoke Parliaments", refer to the cigarette, or to bombing legislatures? I suppose it could mean both.

    Way back when I was in college, the school was relatively conservative. Still, some of my friends and I decided to embrace the stereotypes of conservatives, at least amongst ourselves. Our unofficial motto was "Nuke the Gay Baby Whales for Jesus!"

  4. Hilarious! The "wannabe" hippies are nothing new...my ex-wife did her student teaching way back in 1988 at a high-school that was in a more well-to-do section of our small city and contained a disporportionate number of just the type the list refers to. One thing that was left out, though....actually three...a love for Che Guevara, the cry to "utilize the hemp" and the ability to recite a Jello Biafra spoken-word performance from memory.
    One other thing....what is this sudden preoccupation with Pabst Blue Ribbon? We always regarded that as the ultimate badge of the redneck. Even so, we drank them anyway as you could buy them in 1985 3 for $1 at the local country store. We even had a tree on our favorite dirt road drinking spot decorated with Blue Ribbon cans as some sort of weird homage to the rusty-skunky brew.

  5. Great link, Kathleen!

    Can't wait to mutter a few iterations of these within earshot of the insufferable twentysomething anarchist hipster in our office at work. I greeted him once with "Hey, Hipster!" and he looked like he wanted to strangle me. Hipsters don't like to be called "hipsters." The authenticity of their studied coolness seems to come into question.