NewsPub Notes

Hey, Students: Enjoy Athens and Avoid a Life of Mindless Conformity

Why do all of us still left in the newspaper business feel it is incumbent upon us this time of year to give advice to students? That is absolutely the last thing they want to hear, and fortunately for them, they don’t read anyway, unless it’s on their phone (which this is—sorry, kids).

But anyway, the possibility that nobody is reading what she writes has never deterred a newspaper columnist, and that’s not the point, anyway. A newspaper column is like a writing assignment in college: You have to do it because it’s assigned, and you have to put enough into it to get a decent grade, so that the fact of having done it is more important than what you say.

In fact, you could say that applies to the whole enterprise of going to college. For most students, the fact that they have “gone to college” far outweighs anything they might actually encounter in the way of thought and ideas. So, you attend class and turn in the papers, and you keep on doing it until they hand you a diploma, and then you trade that in on a job, where you are already trained to listen to what the boss says and hand in your reports on time.

No wonder students attempt to postpone the inevitable by constructing social lives built on denying that they’re on a treadmill to the rest of their lives of sameness and repetition. Fraternities and sororities provide instant identification with other people who will help distract from the looming future and will also be friends for life to remind you that there was a time once (was there, really?) when you were carefree enough that you could go to class hung over and laugh about it 30 years later with some of your old frat brothers on a weekend off from work, except that you have that report due Monday.

Well, well, well: Many of us have been right there, too, and we can’t get enough of the nostalgia and football and all that ties us to the Golden Age. But there are some among us who somehow realize while they’re in Athens that there’s something about our town itself that can supply clues about an alternate reality not built on the assembly line. Those students who catch on find their world expanded in a way that not only enriches their time in college but also provides a lasting antidote to the soulless sameness that awaits them in corporate America.

And it’s not just Athens, because there are plenty of hints right there on campus of qualities that can be added to degree preparation. There’s good theater, dance, music and art that can open your eyes to other realities that make you feel more alive—good stuff that can enhance a lifetime.

Once you catch on to the possibilities of this added value, you’re prepared to explore what awaits you in Athens: something different, something that sounds, tastes and looks different from the same old same old—music that will blast your brain, art that will rip the scales from your eyes, beer that makes that stuff you’ve been drinking taste like swill, food that awakens taste buds you didn’t even know were in there. And all this stuff is being made by people your age or close enough to you that they’re still learning how to invent lives that suit them better than the straitjackets that await most college graduates.

So, you might say that your very survival depends on your getting out and finding yourself in Athens. Flagpole is here to help. We’re filled up every week with hot tips on cool music, art, theater, dance, food and drink. Grab a copy or find us at The Flagpole Guide to Athens is all over town, too, and gives a good overview. Do not go gently into that lifeless conformity that awaits those who fail to discover Athens.