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Column: Word To Live By: We'll Do It Live

Heights Columnist

Published: Monday, December 3, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

For my last column, I would like to harken back to the immortal words of Bill O’Reilly, famously uttered to express his extreme frustration. I have given them much thought in the past few years, and I feel like they have come to encompass so much of what I have done and what I still do to this day.

In my high school days, this phrase encompassed my entire class’ approach to homework. Whatever the assignment was, we did in the morning (or in the classes) right before it was due. Math homework? We did it live. English presentation? We did it live. Government debate? We did not prepare notes–we came up with our points in class during the debates. Whatever the occasion was, we applied this philosophy to get us through the daily grind.

Luckily for me, I had enough foresight not to apply this philosophy to my work here. As I have gone through my year and a half here, however, I have found this sentiment is more applicable than ever before. While I do my homework more in advance than I ever did in high school (still usually the night before, but it is an improvement), the attitude is more all-encompassing of my college experience than it was of my high school one. In fact, I would describe the phrase as the call to arms of our generation.

In more ways than ever before, everything we do is done “live.” Our actions and often ill-spoken words are liable to be tweeted at any moment. In an age when everyone’s phone has not only a still camera, but also a video camera, you never know when something you do will end up on Facebook. If politicians today have to worry about some of their indiscretions from their college years being aired, I cannot imagine how much my generation will have to worry when we are running for public office.

While human indiscretion has not likely changed in the last 50 years, the way it can be disseminated has changed immensely. Rather than shunning the changes as an invasion on the privacy of college student’s (sometimes) intoxicated shenanigans, my generation has used these newfound powers to achieve notoriety and their “15 minutes of fame.”
Perhaps, today, in the age of the Internet, is the future that Andy Warhol was unknowingly speaking about when he said that we would all be famous for 15 minutes. Unscripted humor has always held a high place in people’s estimation of what is really funny. With YouTube, there is a place for everyone to post their successes and, often funnier, failures at humor. With smartphones, everyone has the ability to capture those unscripted moments of life.

In many ways, however, I don’t think there are substantial differences in how we approach life. Do we have a more casual approach to our academics than the students of the previous generation? Does this current generation B.S. more and do less legitimate work than the previous one? In speaking with relatives, teachers, mentors, and friends’ parents, it feels like we do, but this could just be because they are no longer college students and are now adult members of society. I am not sure that I can really answer these questions.

At the end of the day and the end of the column, I can only ever really speak for myself. Sometimes I like to humor myself and I try to speak to movements that are larger than my own experiences. Moving into a new role with The Heights next semester, this is really my last chance to express my own view, so for the last time, I’m “doing it live.”

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