Weekly Passport: Ivy Leaguers—Elite & Lost, Funeral Selfies, and The Crime of Nostalgia

EA Weekly Passport_jul22_jul28-01

Ivy League Schools Are Overrated. Send Your Kids Elsewhere
So says writer William Deresiewiczand I couldn’t agree more.

William Deresiewicz‘s somewhat notorious assessment of our elitest (*wink*) higher learning institutions isn’t much different from Paulo Friere’s assessment of traditional pedagogy—i.e., the “banking concept of education“, wherein the student-teacher relationship (or teacherstudent, rather,) is a strictly one-dimensional process with a strictly one-way “narrative”: The “teacher as narrator” expects students to “memorize mechanically the narrated account,” reducing them to “receptacles” to be “filled”. Hence the banking concept; education is just a simple, despotic, and “dehumanizing” arithmetic involving depositors, who hold all the knowledge, and depositories, who are expected to take in and accept everything they’re told. And “the more completely she fills the receptacles, the better a teacher she is,” while “the more meekly the receptacles permit themselves to be filled,”—to be dictated,—”the better students they are.”

From what Deresiewicz has witnessed firsthand (having been not only a student, but a teacher of Ivy League ilk), our most prestigious institutions are guilty of this narrationimparting unto the brightest young minds some pretty insipid concepts of success, not to mention narrow outlooks on lifeif you can’t be Gordon Gekko, at least be a “$400,000-a-year, working Wall Street stiff flying first class and being comfortable.” That’s making it. As Deresiewicz astutely puts it, “it’s considered glamorous to drop out of a selective college if you want to become the next Mark Zuckerberg, but ludicrous to stay in to become a social worker.” Increasingly socioeconomically uniform kids, otherwise full of real talent and exceptional promise, file into their increasingly socioeconomically uniform Ivies just to walk out four years later with increasingly socioeconomically uniform ambitions—dispelled with a capacity for self-awareness, for imagination, for extracommercial, extrafinancial, extraconventional passion, that has, in the words of Sahhgeant Dignam, “more f**ckin’ leaks than the Iraqi Navy.”

They graduate with weak and unpenetrating lenses for a world with so many dire needs and thus so much to offer than their expensive schools, let alone their supposedly exceptional country, let on. (The New Republic)

*language NSFWbut it’s a perfect, pre-Wolf of Wall Street, representation of what we worship

Google, the Ultimate Confidant, is Everybody’s Secret BFF

The new oracles are online and digital. You can believe that the infallible digital oracle on the other side of the screen will tell you the ultimate secret, the final answer, the bit that doesn’t make sense in your life. I don’t think it’s a sign of desperation at all—it’s us.” So writes Kate Bussmann, quoting Luciano Floridi, professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at Oxford Internet Institute. Google is our modern day oracle; we ask it literally everything—even things we really should be asking real people in real life. Like doctors, for instance. You know—professionals who’ve gone to school for seven or more years to study medicine so that we may consult them if ever we have health problems? “One of the reasons we like to treat Google as a triage nurse,” writes Bussmann, “is that it spares our blushes.” Google, with its “promise of anonymity”, apparently sees more erectile dysfunction (not good), incontinence, and weight loss patience than general practitioners do, and I’ll bet that’s as true for yanks as it is for the redcoats (Bussmann is based in the UK). “You can’t believe everything you read on the internet” is starting to sound a little old-fashioned… (Telegraph)

Ya, She Seriously Took a “Selfie in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp =)”
Oh, yeah. In case you didn’t know, kids are actually taking #funeral selfies…

They often vary between pathetic, bemusing, and nauseating, (or a combination of all three,) but what the pics in these two utterly ridiculous TumblrsHashtag Funeral and the discontinued Selfies at Funerals—have in common is hilarity. People are hilarious (albeit self-absorbed, senseless, narcissistic, etc.). Kids these days…” is too easytoo insensitive a dismissal; when it pops into my head, I usually wonder thereafter if I’d do the same dumb things if were a kid today. Honestly, if I had a bangin’ body, a good voice, my famous daddy’s permission, a lot of money to fall back on if I ever “messed up”, and my whole life ahead of me, I too would contemplate swinging ass-naked on a wrecking ball in a music video. If I were a ditsy, teenage, American tourist walking through Auschwitz with my iPod Touch and those crappy Apple buds in my ears, unable to help my restless boredom as I listen to RiRi and feel about as removed as I’d ever felt from an atrocity that has absolutely nothing to do with me because it happened sixty years before I was born *sighs*…I might make the mistakeand it is an unfortunate, tasteless mistakeof taking an ill-advised (and inordinately happy) selfie. *shrugs*

If there’s one thing every generation has in common, it’s that it doesn’t come into its own. Stop shaming kids who don’t know any better and start teaching them. #empathy (Washington Post | Huffington Post)

Hence “inordinately happy”.

What is “Public”?
We are ALL public defenders.

Public is not simply defined. Public is not just what can be viewed by others, but a fragile set of social conventions about what behaviors are acceptable and approrpriate. There are people determined to profit from expanding and redefining what’s public, working to treat nearly everything we say or do as a public work they can exploit. They may succeed before we even put up a fight.” So begins technologist Anil Dash in an incisive and relevant-as-ever discussion regarding the boundaries between public and private domains, particularly in the realm of infotech. The bottom line is that people must be wary of private businesses abusing private information in public spaces, not to mention the fact that almost every new technological tool designed to make life more shareable, convenient, and exciting has the potential to further misshapen public and private lines at your expense. He also reminds us that “public information exists in a context of power and consent, and we must construct our ethics in that context.” (Medium)

No, No, Nine-Ettes
The Truth About Nostalgia

This anxious, ravenous speedup of nostalgia—getting wistful over goodies that never went away—is more than a reflection of the overall acceleration of digital culture, a pathetic sign of our determination to dote on every last shiny souvenir of our prolonged adolescence, and an indictment of our gutless refusal to face the rotten future like Stoic philosophers. It’s also a recognition that September 11, 2001, and the Iraq war cast a pall over everything that has come after. The millennium has been a major letdown. Yet let’s not con ourselves. It’s not as if the 90s were some belle époque either.

Everyone should read this, and I mean that it like Gary Oldman in The Professional (a 90s gem, of course). Read it to let it remind you of our two worst qualities: We’re Forgetful and Denialistic.

For whatever reason, our social memory is extraordinarily selective. Two great recent examples of this in pop culture are the making and taking of Mad Men, with its creators glamorizing 60s corporate culture (e.g., the smoking, the boozing, the rampant sexism) and its faithful viewership buying into it all. “What makes Mad Men so compelling is that we long for an ideal that we are simultaneously reminded was not real.” (Lane & Wilson) We’re “golden age thinkers“; we prefer the more convenient albeit incomplete vision of a “better time”, no matter how warped and incom- patible with reality it may be because the whole picture is inconvenient. And depressing. I quoted the Wall Street earlier; the truth about that movie is it’s fans usually won’t watch its third act. Hungry young guys want to be Bud Fox, to rise and make it big like like him; they don’t want to see him (grow a conscience and) fall in the end. They want to be ruthless corporate raiders like Gordon Gekko, talking tough and making millions of dollars a day; there’s no “pleasure” in watching his empire crumble. 

Reality is hard. Learning is hard. Kindness is hard. Abstention (or at least patience) is hard. Too bad our collective tolerance for hard is pretty slim. Religious mania is easier, so we do that. Anti-intellectualism is easier, so we do that. Anonymously trolling the internet with pessimistic, ignorant garbage is easier, so we do that. Materialism is easier, so we do that. Nostalgia can be just as bad because, like all that other crap, it’s denial. And denial is never progressive. (Vanity Fair)

*Another relevant 90s gem. (This one’s about consumerism/materialism.Language NSFS

*…Aaaaaaand another relevant 90s gem. (This one’s about apathy & ease.Language NSFS


“Weekly Passport” is a series curated by Everyday Ambassador writer and editor Michael Nebab. Every Tuesday, we will post a round-up of meaningful media tidbits and Everyday Ambassador must-reads. To stay current with our latest edition, follow #weeklypassport on our other platforms, and check back for updates.

Author: Michael Nebab
Writer. Learner. Thinker. Realist. American.

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