Feeling Fine, One Week At a Time

By The Columbia Chronicle

Billy O’Keefe

College editorials are a lot like teenagers. They present a multitude of different beliefs and standards in a variety of styles, colors and catchy presentation, each week taking on new battles and challenges with unlimited possibilities. Yet everyone hates them. Even teenagers.

It’s no secret why, either. No one likes a whiner, and the Op/Ed pages of most college papers are loaded like a banana cream pie with arguments that tear into you like a Supersoaker. The gloom that looms in today’s college pages makes the 60s sound like a psychedelic fairy tale, an impossible slice of life buried in the sands of time.

Why are journalism students so cranky? Actually, the dreariness is not unique to one group of youngsters. Rather, it has enveloped a massive chunk of America’s high school and college-age population, an incurable disease alleviated by apathy, an invisible career in activism or good ol’ disillusionment (however that works).

So why the long faces? The fact is, most young folks find out the hard way just what a prodigious pain in the ass changing the world can be: not everyone agrees with your cause, not everyone cares (a vast understatement), and even those who do agree and care don’t always feel it’s their duty to take action. Seeing the solution as improbable and the cause as pointless (rather than in need of some hard work and not-so-hard luck), most folks give up, grab a burger and spew bitter mutterings for the rest of their lives.

Ask most high school and college students about human nature, and they’ll tell you that people can’t be trusted. Ask us about our leaders, and we’ll tell you they’re just pure evil. Use nineties buzz phrases like “faceless corporation” and “sellout,” and we’ll (supposedly) understand what you’re talking about. Tell us about the voice we have in American culture and politics, and brace yourself for so many dirty looks.

Thus, the argument us youngsters often present, as reflected in these editorial pages, is a big bowl of a problem without even a dash of a solution.

And so the arguments live on, from paper to paper, from year to year. The government doesn’t care about us. Corporations don’t think about their employees (or their customers, for that matter). The money’s the thing. Good race relations? Good indeed, but they’ll never materialize. Rich people are all greedy. Democracy doesn’t work. Organized religion in America is a joke George Carlin couldn’t even write. Celebrities are, like, soooooo incredibly stupid, and athletes are brats. Television sucks, movies suck, music sucks. And everything else suck sucky sucks too.

It’s not that we’re all stupid, spoiled or even entirely ignorant. The world is so complex, with so many gears spinning so many hands at one time, that the answer is never simple. This complexity is the same reason that problems take so much work to treat in the first place. But while the code is a tough one to crack, the solutions are out there, or we wouldn’t have come as far as we already have.

So what to do, you say? Well, for starters, keep reading. Throughout this year (or until I get fired), this space will be dedicated to unlocking the not-so-secret secrets of the world and what it takes to make it turn. Maybe we’ll learn something, maybe I’ll just look stupid. In any case, it beats talking about television, because as we’ve all been told, television sucks.

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