Sarah is a junior majoring in Government and Information Science in the College of Arts and Sciences. Culturally Shook appears every other Wednesday this semester. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writing about endings tends towards the cliché. I want to preface this by saying that it’s impossible for me to write about graduation without feeling uncomfortably self-aware of the redundancy of my feelings. Of course I’m sad that a “chapter” of my life is over. Of course I’m “excited” about “what the future holds” for me. But all that has been said before and felt before, by almost 4,000 of my fellow classmates and hundreds of thousands more across the United States and the world over.
I glare at myself in the mirror. Maybe if I stare at my reflection long enough, critically enough, I’ll finally see myself the way the U.S. government sees me: white. After all, when has the U.S. government ever been wrong? I’m Arab-American. My family is from Syria, but I was born in the United States.
That quote about being a tiny speck of dust in the infinite span of the universe—intended to be a comforting reminder that our actions do not merit the importance we delude ourselves into believing they do, and that we should really just relax—is actually quite demoralizing. Maybe it’s the leftover traces of teen angst that have dutifully followed me into my twenties, maybe it’s just how I’m feeling this particular rainy Thursday night—but that quote just makes me kind of sad. If I’m just an insignificant fleck of dust traversing outer space on a marble of a planet with millions of other equally insignificant flecks of dust, then what’s the point? Why are we setting our alarms for 8am, gaining significant leadership experience in a myriad of educational campus organizations, and forming meaningful relationships with our peers? Why are we doing anything, really?
Last week, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the new White House Press Secretary, read a 9-year-old boy’s letter to President Trump during a press briefing. This lucky 9-year-old boy is Dylan Harbin, also known by the nickname Pickle. Pickle is only in the 3rd grade, but he doesn’t know “why people don’t like” Donald Trump—he likes Trump so much he even had a Trump-themed birthday party!
I don’t need to tell you that Pickle’s childlike fascination with the rude, noisy NSFW animation that is Donald Trump—while troubling—is clearly not rooted in any nuanced understanding of Trump’s domestic and international policy decisions. Liberals, leftists and anyone else who grows nauseated by the mere mention of our traffic cone-tinted Commander-in-Chief traipsing through the White House with all the grace of a tactless Neanderthal can agree that Pickle’s object of obsession is, to say the least, unfortunate.
Recently, CNN published a story—a love story that, CNN insists, “defies borders.” Carly Harris, a Mormon college student, was volunteering at a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, when she met Soufiane El Yassami, a Muslim fast food worker. El Yassami had studied industrial refrigeration and was seeking a better life in Europe, fleeing the dismal economic situation in Morocco. “After several weeks of flirty conversations with Harris,” the article states, El Yassami was denied asylum into Europe, arrested and sent back to Morocco. The two continued to converse through Facebook messages, trying to find a way for El Yassami to visit Harris in the United States. Yet they soon realized the possibility of El Yassami obtaining a visa was bleak, if not impossible.
If you tell me you’re in pursuit of happiness, I’ll tell you you’re awfully misguided (@KidCudi, wyd?). Happiness itself is simply a concept—a crude abstraction, nebulous by nature. People say it exists. I say: pics or it didn’t happen. A journey to a more ambiguous abstraction there never was.
I have inadvertently heard the song “Closer” so many times that sometimes I hear it even when it’s not being played. What I once took to be a constant in my life, an allegedly reassuring acoustic verification of my ongoing physicality—my heartbeat—has been aggressively replaced by the song’s superficial, Day-Glo, Capri Sun beat. In a sense, I admire the song’s ambition, its desire to aspire higher—apparently, permeating the airwaves is not enough for “Closer.” It wants to extend itself into new psychological realms, infiltrate the cerebral networks of the adolescent masses, leak its toxic sugar into every crevice of our collective consciousness until one day suddenly we are not living our lives anymore—we are just living in the imagined idyllic lifeworld of the song, intangible figments residing in the corporeal actualization of the self-obsessed chart-topping hit. No longer will we be independent autonomous beings — we will exist only in relation to this aural “simulacrum of human feeling.”
Maybe this thread of self-reflection is what makes the song so popular—maybe the reason it has been re-re-replayed is that it arguably can be perceived as a reflection on universal human feelings that are difficult to directly acknowledge. Maybe converting these difficult truths into fruity electronic beats is how we tacitly learn to confront them.
I want to dissociate. Split myself into two bodies, break myself apart into two corporal entities. It would be a twisted ode to nuclear fission, except instead of dividing the nucleus of an atom I would just be dividing myself. Just imagine! I could exist in two places at once, think two thoughts at once, do two things at once.
Hello, world! I am the iPhone 7.* You might have heard about me. Apple—my divine maker, God of contemporary consumer electronics as ordained by the capitalist super-state—released me into the free market a few days ago. I am here to converse with you about—that’s right!—the dreaded “us.”
In an interview with ABC this Sunday, Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate, likened Donald Trump’s encouragement of Russia to hack into Hillary’s emails to the infamous Watergate scandal. Kaine’s comment was his way of deflecting negative attention off Hillary by pointing out just how much worse Trump is. And it’s true. I hope you don’t need me to tell you this, but Trump really is so much worse than Hillary. That’s why it’ll surprise you to hear that he was actually kind of right.