Casual Friday: Anti-Social experiment
The Editorial Board takes its position as the voice of Spectator very seriously. However, in keeping with Spectator’s effort to put the “college” back in college newspaper, the board, which does not take itself quite so seriously, submits to the consideration of the University population a different sort of editorial each Friday. A casual editorial.
This past week saw the first—and hopefully last—Social Experiment on Columbia’s campus. For those of you who have been living under a rock, or around well-adjusted people: We were supposed to spend the last five days being assigned passwords randomly and running around talking to people for 10 seconds at a time trying to collect them all (the passwords, not the people). Whoever collected the most got $500 (and a ruined reputation, but we digress).
The Social Experiment did not really affect socialization at Columbia at all, but it did titillate media outlets throughout the region. New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser informed us that our administrators set up the experiment—which has nothing to do with dating—because they’re worried that, if we don’t date, we won’t be able to perpetuate the genre of “the self-flagellating memoir.” (She’s right, of course.) And the Harvard Crimson’s esteemed editorial board, kindly taking an interest in its big-city cousins’ social plight, noted that “efforts to increase social interactions on large campuses are welcome,” but “undergraduates are better off making new friends in friendlier atmospheres” (slow news day in Cambridge, guys?). But then, they are sympathetic, noting that our difficulty socializing is “intensified on large, unenclosed urban campuses like Columbia’s.” If only we lived on one of those enclosed urban campuses, like the Bronx Zoo.
In order to fend off our journalistic inferiority complex, we, too, would like to comment.
This was ridiculous, Columbia.
This was more ridiculous than that professor’s proposal to put blue umbrellas for smokers up around campus. More ridiculous than the decision to turn tiny Ferris Booth into a dining hall. More ridiculous than allowing the loss of the self-flagellating memoir. Are you getting it, Columbia? This was absurd.
We do not understand what the point was. Yes, students here could stand to say hello to each other more and be nicer and write less vitriolic editorials. But those kinds of changes—the ones that speak to campus culture and the nature of the student body—are going to arise organically from the students. If we are anti-social, it’s not for lack of “a college social initiative that does not depend solely on virtual interaction,” which the Crimson wisely prescribes us. Of course, it doesn’t help that we spend so much time on Facebook—where was that developed, again?
Like everything else at Columbia, our social tendencies are too complicated to be reduced to something so simplistic. We hope you remember this, Columbia, if and when you design a hypothesis for your next experiment.