A new article points to a troubling trend in higher education. Don't worry boys! It don't effect us!
Would you like to know the best part about co-owning a li’l surf website with the great Derek Rielly? Lazily passing along unsubstantiated rumors! Would you like to know the second best part? Reading something amazing that is only very tangentially related to surfing yet posting about it anyhow!
There is, you see, an amazing article that just came out in The Atlantic called The Coddling of the American Mind (give yourself a gift and read here). It begins:
Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses. Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.
In short, it discusses the fact that college students in the United States have turned into giant sissies, vindictively lashing out at concepts they disagree with and, at the same time, wanting to be protected from them by their complete removal from the public sphere. The authors of the piece, Greg Kukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, give an exhaustive account of this phenomenon and attribute some of its birth to kids, now college-aged, who grew up as “natives” of social media where, “(It) makes it extraordinarily easy to join crusades, express solidarity and outrage, and shun traitors.”
This social back and forth has been a part of surf media since the very first message board popped up and has continued, unabated across multiple platforms like FaceBook, Twitter and below BeachGrit’s always fascinating posts. What was refreshing to me, though, as I read, was surfers still feel ok about being racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, jingoistic, small-minded, prejudiced, awful across these multiple platforms. We lob grenades back and forth all day long. Brazilians vs. Australians, old vs. young, fans of the WSL vs. detractors, Adriano de Souza haters vs. Other Adriano de Souza haters etc. And while the discussion is often base, it is very fun, no? And maybe closer to some kind of meta-truth than a clean scrubbed utterly inoffensive narrative. The Atlantic article points out that the way college students think today mirrors patterns that cause depression and anxiety. As shit as surfers can be, we ain’t that and I hope our dialogues stay loose, fast, generally uneducated, ill-informed, wildly opinionated and, above all, fun.