College is a wonderful incubator of ideas. A 15-minute coffee break in the cafeteria can turn into an hour spent chatting about gender theory with that girl who never wears shoes. A quick trip to the dorm drug dealer can turn into a long, long discussion of the idea that—just think about it, man— we are all living inside a computer. The nation's universities are places of experimentation, where kids try on various adult skins to see which one fits. One week you're trying to get into scotch, the next you're attempting serious conversations about Kant and Foucault after half-listening to lectures about them.
As graduation season nears, many of these child/adult hybrids will be moving on from this comforting cocoon and entering the world of the workforce, where most conversations are about the weather, how you get to and from work, and how much you want to quit your job. So, class of 2015, stop for a second of reflection before you embark down the same road of toil your forefathers and foremothers trod down, and look back at the conversations that you only ever have when you have the naive confidence and enthusiasm of an undergrad.
The Argument Over Who Is More of an Alcoholic
"Did I get shitfaced every day since Minal's 'Why Is This in My Closet' Party? That was so long ago. I'm like officially an alcoholic."
"I'm drunk right now. And I haven't eaten anything this week except for Everclear and coconut yogurt. I'm way worse of an alcoholic."
"Yeah, but I woke up drunk from last night, then had a beer to get rid of my hangover. I just went to my professor's office hours, and I was drunk for the whole meeting."
"I was drunk for four of my finals."
Once you know someone who has done terrible shit while drinking and gone to rehab and made the AA-mandated apology rounds—or if you become that person yourself—jokes about alcoholism get a lot less funny. At a certain point, if someone says, "I'm an alcoholic," you get quiet instead of smirk-bragging about crushing a case of Busch.
That One About the Nature of Truth
"Um, actually, I don't think you can even make that assumption about Goddard's quote-unquote artistic intentions."
"Right? Like, what is art, even, until someone interprets it?"
"This couch could be art if I just said, 'Hey, this couch is art.'"
"As long as people believe you, that counts as art."
"As long as people believe in anything, it's true. Like, what is the world if not, like, a bunch of ideas people had that everyone goes along with?"
"If we all agree something is blue, it's blue, even if no one is seeing the same color."
"Totally. TOTALLY. Like, all words are just these empty signifiers, right? We just fill them in with whatever, our own bullshit."
This sort of thing is the undergrad-just-took-an-intro-to-philosophy-course-then-did-a-bong-hit version of that thing when three-year-olds ask "why" over and over again.
Bragging or Worrying About Your GPA
"I clearly did the research. I clearly put the works cited page in perfect MLA formatting, and she still gave me a fucking A minus!"
"Right, but she wrote on the front, 'unclear thesis.'"
"She clearly does not care about consistency in grading. In fact, she's probably sexist against men."
"Uh, OK. Well, I think you're gonna be fine. I'm getting a C minus in this class…"
"Yeah, well you don't know what it's like to have parents with high expectations."
Full-grown adults aren't dicks to each other about grades, because they have other things they can lord over one another, like marriages, children, jobs, and homes.
Your Close Readings of Hollywood Movies
"So, Rocky is obviously an anti-Nietzschian parable, with the strong man being overcome by the weak, but it gets really explicit in Rocky IV, with the blonde superman being knocked down by this avatar of conventional morality. It's total slave morality, this notion that the hero is this schmuck who is just this beaten-down nice guy. I mean, come on. Apollo Creed is so obviously the cooler one and the better fighter and just oozes charisma, why aren't we rooting for him? Doesn't he deserve to win? Why are our sympathies always attached to the so-called everyman?"
"Also, Quentin Tarantino movies are racist."
Any Serious Conversation About Slavoj Žižek
"I like how Bernie Sanders sounds like a total Socialist."
"Bro, did you even read Žižek's The Sublime Object of Ideology?"
"Uh, most of it."
"Then you must know the fundamental theory error in Sanders's assumptions about Marxism."
"Maybe. But could you refresh my memory?"
"Žižek would say his brand of socialism doesn't explain why a commodity can affirm its social character, only the commodity-form of the product."
Slavoj Žižek is a charming, goofy man, and probably the world's most famous Marxist intellectual—but unless you go on to a career in highbrow journals or academia, you'll probably never have to pretend you've read him again.
Related: Watch our own Alex Miller have a heart-to-heart with Žižek.
The Master Plan for Rebuilding Society
"I think I just figured out how to fix political corruption."
"Why is there a congress at all, or a president? We could vote with our phones, multiple times per day if there were direct democracy."
"Every decision would be in the hands of the people."
"No political offices to abuse, no officials to bribe. Government by the masses, for the masses."
"You'd still need some people in charge."
"To like, sign treaties, carry out orders. If people phone-voted to go to war, you'd have to have generals."
"One word, dude: robots."
The only place where this kind of conversation happens outside of college is Silicon Valley, where it happens every day.
The Fantasy About Never Needing to Make Money
"You know what? It may be 3 AM, and this vape made me higher than I've ever been in my life…"
"But this, right here? This is truer happiness than you can buy with a fucking American Express card."
"Money is a total trap. It's like Buddhism. A cycle of desire or whatever."
"All you need to do is start your own farm. Just on some abandoned land or whatever. Grow some carrots, lettuce, or just grow weed, barter for what you need. Hook a generator up to a bike…"
"You can power things with your foot pedals. Just like Occupy Wall Street."
"I bet we could go to Detroit and set that up right now."
Many people fantasize about building an autonomous growhouse-commune-farm in America's Rust Belt, but only a few have enough follow-through to make those plans come to fruition. Soon you'll be buying non-IKEA furniture and things for the kitchen, then eventually a car, and other tokens of responsibility. Pretty soon, you'll have a house, and probably kids and before you know it you feel completely justified complaining about how much it costs to build a deck.
How Society Disrespects the Young
"That cop only chased us out of that park because we're young, you know."
"Oh, I know. When our generation gets older, we're gonna end some of this discrimination."
"Yeah, it's bullshit that we have to buy a keg from a creepy guy in a parking lot instead of from a store, but we can legally go to war and kill people."
"You know what else is bullshit? We can't rent cars until we're 25."
"Also renting a car is like 50 bucks a day."
In less than a decade, you will be physically uncomfortable when you realize that the bar you're in is mostly populated by kids in their early 20s on Tinder dates.
Reminiscing About Something and Slowly Realizing You Have Done Something Terrible
"Oh man, you were so wasted you went out in flip-flops when it was below zero!"
"I know man. And then we found that tarp, and that tent in the woods…"
"Yeah. That shit was filthy! And we lit it on fire!"
"Haha! That was probably someone's home!"
"Hah. Man. It was really cold that night."
The One About the President Being "Actually Worse than Hitler"
"Voting for Hillary? You would probably vote for a fascist like Obama too, right?"
"Obama is literally the only man who kept an out-and-out psychopath like Romney outside of the White House!"
"Whatever. Obama's a mass murderer. I read an article that said Obama deported more people, and arrested more journalists than any other president ever."
"He patched up the economy, didn't he?"
"They said the same thing about Hitler!"
Your brain is sharpest when you're young and relatively unencumbered, but soon you'll have a job that wears you down to the point of dullness by the evenings. You'll also have seen enough politicians come and go not to get too excited over individual comings and goings. For most media consumers, the president just starts to feel like any other TV personality. Pretty soon, you can't seem to muster more emotion about him or her than you can about Mario Lopez.
Oh, and you'll start to really like Mario Lopez.
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