Campus zombies: Get out of your bubble
One sees many things while walking around a university campus. A college is home to people of all ages and nationalities, beautiful buildings, tall trees and green grass. We’re lucky that our college campus is as beautiful as it is. We’re lucky that our college campus is as intricate, diverse and special as it is. As a college student, something I am particularly fond of is the ability we have to encounter various people on campus. We encounter people every day that are vastly different from us.
We aren’t secluded to one way of thought or only one particular type of person while in college. We work, study, party and learn with people who believe differently than us, were raised differently than us and are interested in different topics than us. Diversity is the essence of a college campus.
However, if we’re all so different, what is the one thing that 99 percent of all college students do? What is the unifying factor in us all, if there is one at all? It’s something we see and never quite notice, something that seems so normal to us: We’re all plugged in.
I challenge you to walk around campus today and count the amount of people you see with headphones in, on, or around their ears. Count the number of people you see talking on the phone, texting, scrolling, typing, Snapchat-ing, FaceTime-ing and so on. I promise it will be the fastest you will ever count. I promise it’ll shock you to notice something that you’ve always known and seen, but never particularly thought about or focused on.
Everyone, I repeat, everyone, is connected to something in some way or another.
Whether it is to a cell phone, music player or another type of technological gadget, why is it that part of the college lifestyle requires us to block off the outside world and focus in on ourselves, our inner thoughts, our immediate needs only? That’s why we constantly need to be plugged in, listening to music or otherwise; we need to be personally fulfilled with our personal pleasures, goals, ambitions and needs on a constant basis.
This is something I believe is not new to our generation because I believe people have an innate quality to be self-centered and narcissistic. But I believe technology has allowed to be endlessly consumed with ourselves. With social media becoming so integral to life, I think there is no end in sight.
Being selfish in some degree is good. It’s necessary to be selfish in college, to an extent. College teaches us to be selfish. But is it also teaching us to lose focus? Is it creating a system that facilitates disengagement and self-seclusion? Why are we all doing the same thing? Is it really because we want or need to, or because we feel the need to fit in? Are we all mindless zombies just following the next zombie and the other?
We trip, stumble and run into things around campus because our entire senses are devoted to an object in our hands or pockets. We go blank as we walk from one place to another on campus. We are mindless for a few minutes because we automatically plug in and block out the world.
Are we losing the ability to enjoy our surroundings by constantly creating our own personal bubbles?
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Don’t get me wrong, I love music. I love listening to the perfect tune with the perfect tempo that will raise my rhythm, my walking speed, as I walk to class. I love being able to communicate with others on the phone through headphones while doing something else like walking to class or doing homework. But I also like hearing the sound of the leaves on big trees when there is very strong wind. I love listening to birds sing exotic songs, even when they sometimes just sound like annoying shrieks. I love listening to other people’s conversations, yes I know, this is shamed upon, but still.
College allows people the ability to share a space with highly intelligent educators, students and intellectuals. When else can we say we’re completely surrounded by some of our world’s most intelligent? Shouldn’t we embrace our surroundings then, at all times? Shouldn’t we stop trying to block them out?
We shouldn’t be mindless zombies. We shouldn’t be dependent on brightly-lit LED screens. We shouldn’t just do things because others are doing them. We should be our own individuals selves. We should strive to go against the norm.
Follow Julian Cardenas on Twitter.