Friday, September 30, 2011

Off campus, online

Spent the last day writing this column for the Yale Daily News.

Off Campus, Online

“Yo dawg, how’s it going?”

These days, that’s how it always begins. After a few seconds of “John is typing …” he’ll respond, “nm homie, not much.”

Often, we’ll skip the platitudes. “dude those Asian guys playing piano and guitar is [sic] so good. [insert YouTube link]”

“wow manila sounds crazy.”

“yo look at facebook. the girl who just posted on my wall.”

That’s how post-Yale conversations begin — on Gchat. It’s 1 p.m. in the Philippines; 1 a.m. on the East coast. Both of us should be doing something else: John, P90X; me, working.

But we keep talking, because post-Yale, that’s how college relationships are. John is typing …

“she definitely posted this of her own accord. without any provocation from me.”

“what did you say to her?”

“we had a conversation about how we compulsively check our facebooks. i check it for the small victory of seeing that absolutely nothing has changed since the last time i checked it 10 seconds ago. (it was funnier in person, i did a whole one man sketch scene).”

“oh nice. you should keep it up. but don’t give her too much. so obviously, don’t respond tonight.”

“s--t. I literally just posted on her wall.”

In many respects, 2011 and 2010 are very, very similar — except now, my social interactions have moved online.

Instead of tossing the football against gentle autumn winds on Cross Campus, I’m tossing trade proposals on ESPN fantasy football (Cadillac for Fred Williams? Seriously, Warren?). Instead of meeting up for a jam session on Old Campus, I’m sending out YouTube links of acoustic covers. Instead of flirting in Commons, I’m eating take-out dumplings while sending OKCupid messages. (“So … how do you feel about jeggings?”) Instead of hanging out in a common room, I’m hanging out on G+. John is typing …

“this girl is mad chill. like she’s super into college football and nfl. and she’s also super super into tennis. she’s like just an ideal chick.”

“you’re so set. just dont screw this up.”

“lol. but i really don’t wanna be distracted iwth this s--t. dammit.”

After college ended, I’ve gotten distracted a lot. My summer in New York, I was distracted offline: shows, street fundraising, busking, Argentinian women on the subway, basketball at Rucker Park. In Manila, I’m distracted online: Quora, Tumblr, Twitter, Ravelry (don’t ask), Athletics Nation, Reddit, Hacker News, Spotify and Blogger (shameless plug:!), literally all of which I either didn’t know about or barely touched back at Yale.

This is to be expected. It is part of the transition from college. As natural as learning to cook (revelation: eggs can be microwaved), using a plunger (no Yale “super-toilets” anymore), or even — God forbid — flipping through the UCS guide, “Life After Yale: A Survival Guide for the Class of 2011” (with useful tips like, “don’t expect to be the CEO after a week”). It is as natural as maintaining relationships through gchat. John is typing …

“i almost feel like she’s too much of a woman for me to handle.”


“i don’t even have her number yet. how do i go about getting her number?”

“you get her number by, one day, in the middle of a conversation, without provocation, taking out your phone and looking at it, while saying, ‘Let me get your number.’”

These are the vestiges of Yale. Without the near-frictionless social environment of college, maintaining friendships becomes more imposition than convenience: it’s 100 percent on you. Otherwise, as a 2010 friend puts it, they’ll become “nonexistent. so sad. I haven’t kept up w yale at all.” You can’t take the chicken tenders or Master Chun with you, but you can take your friendships, even if they are wedged in a small box in the corner of your Gmail account.

What is life after Yale? One friend says, “Sitting and eating and then making enough money to sit and eat some more.” He adds, later, “rambles and shambles.”

Another says, “it’s the sense of relief when your ego comes flooding back when you are back on top out in the ‘real world.’”

Another says, “It means being cast out of an edenic garden of earthly delights into the wilderness of responsibility.”

Or, maybe all Life after Yale means is having to email your friends with the question, instead of yelling it across the common room.

It’s different for each of the 1,251 graduates of 2011. There’s no statement of pure pith. Well, except for what my suitemate told me, two days ago.

I asked, “Quick q. What does ‘life after yale’ mean to you?”

He replied, “it means never having to bs my way through section again.”

Now that, friends, is something to look forward to.

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