Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Education vs. Competition

Emory is rich in diversity and abundant with differences in both opinions and priorities.  There is one goal, however, that all Emory students should have in common: education.  No matter what letters you wear, clubs you join, or places you spend your time, you should not be here if you do not value education.
Yesterday, student groups were giving presentations in one of my classes.  Part of the requirements was a Q&A session, and the professor kindly requested that the audience ask informative, but respectful questions of their peers.  Instead, many of the questions were vicious and obnoxious, setting the presenters up for failure.  A few selfish students ambushed their classmates while they were defenseless; they seized an opportunity to make themselves look smart and their competition look weak.  These selfish individuals attacked their fellow students when they were vulnerable, and that was not in the spirit of the assignment.
This ugly air of competition, however, is most definitely in the spirit of the Business School.  After every test, the weak students walk out crying while the strong ones emerge with villainous grins.  Not a word is spoken between the two.  Likewise, in the library, students study in tiny coalitions—hardly a helping hand is given to the enemy on a project or before an exam.
The blatant disrespect of these students, not only towards each other, but more importantly, towards education, is baffling.  We pay $60,000 a year to learn, yet we do everything in our power to impede others’ learning.  Instead of fighting for A’s, we should be fighting for education.  We’re not savages; we’re students.  We should start acting that way.
I envision a community where question and answer sessions are challenging, rather than intimidating.  I envision a campus where students actively offer their assistance, rather than reluctantly request that of others.  I envision a student body that celebrates dialogue and teamwork, rather than witty remarks and GPA’s.

Don’t get me wrong; I couldn’t be happier that I’m in the Business School.  The coursework is interesting, and the opportunity is endless.  Nevertheless, at times I am embarrassed and even appalled by the constant necessity for competition, and the dizzying disrespect that accompanies it.  In the grand scheme of things, where you lie on the curve is pretty insignificant.  It’s about time the students here figured that out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Take Out The Garbage, Facebook

Facebook sucks. It really does. The idea is brilliant, the infrastructure is powerful, but the users are consistently underwhelming in the content that they provide. How many statuses have you seen that make you question the progress of human interactions? How many photos have you seen that make you wish camera phones were never invented?
To be clear, this is not an attack on the concept or technology of Facebook, this is merely a commentary on the careless nature of our generation. I know I've certainly made posts, comments, and statuses (many regarding this blog) that have polluted all of your newsfeeds. We are all culprits in the growth of this vacuum of meaningless content that has consumed countless hours of our otherwise busy lives.
 The breakup status. The drunk selfie. The generic happy birthday post. Not to mention the endless likes, pokes, and shares. These are all things that have absolutely no relevance to my life, yet I often spend hours mindlessly perusing the uncensored trivialities that my peers constantly share.
Our generation is so overtly concerned with the attention and approval of the public that it has no qualms spewing nonsense that pertains to only a small fraction of the likely audience. Rarely do Facebook users contemplate the notion that all of their "friends" will see their status. The result is a glaring disconnect between the content available on Facebook and the users who actually see it.
There is no simple solution to this problem. Self-policing is the only way to ensure that garbage doesn't constantly fill my newsfeed. After all, it only takes a handful of perpetrators to infest our beloved digital playground. So, here is my recommendation. Think before you post. If it's not interesting the first time you look at it, it certainly won't be when we do.

Moreover, if you find yourself scrolling through the desert wasteland that is your newsfeed, helplessly seeking an end to your inevitable boredom, do yourself a favor. Close your computer. Put your phone back in your pocket. Open your front door and go experience the world. There are interesting people all around us, and you won't find them on Facebook.