I secretly hate New Year’s Eve celebrations.
I usually don’t let people know this about me, as it might affect their appreciation of certain moments in our shared lives, but there it is. The drinking, paper horns, and butchering of Auld Lang Syne are all celebratory of a moment that feels oddly similar to closing a coffin lid for the last time at a long funeral. You’re glad the process is over, but there’s a bittersweet moment where the passage of time hurts more than you’d like to admit and all you want to do is fall out of reality and never let anything pass from your life ever again.
In spite all that morbid heaviness, I celebrate every year with all the expected pomp and circumstance. I happily don pointy hats, count backwards from ten with unmatched revelry, and occasionally pop champagne party poppers at the night sky to remind the universe that no happy moment deserves to pass silently. In my head, it sounds a bit like this video.
Here’s to you little, wonderful reminders of existential defiance.
If there was one particular attribute I possessed as a college student, it was a propensity to weigh in too often. I would have much rather been the best writer, the most insightful, or the most well-read, but those weren’t my strengths. I’m a talker. I think quickly and I form conclusions with considerable speed, which inevitably led to sharing those conclusions if no one else wished to speak up. I couldn’t really help it. After a professor asked a discussion question, most of my classmates would sit quietly, even in certain grad school seminars. The silence hanging in the air would electrify my mind into voicing a position.
Sometimes, I wouldn’t even actually support the position I presented. Being a competent devil’s advocate was as exciting as being the voice of insight. When a free exchange of ideas occurs, I’m irresistibly inclined to join in the discussion. I used to become embroiled in facebook discussions, laced with bluster and ignorant fallacy. I’ve learned my lesson there and now most of mpackaged but fierce exchanges take place with strangers on Reddit. Now that I lead a great many discussions with unwilling, captive participants, I’ve learned to better obscure and mute my own personal position of a topic when necessary.
I’ve been reticent to weigh in on the fracas surrounding Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson and his candid comments in an interview with GQ. Over the last week, I’ve watched unproductive arguments unfold between politically-opposed friends and passive-aggressive status updates appear about knowing who to unfriend or unfollow because of the controversy. I enjoy listening to a vibrant debate as much as I used to enjoy classroom discussions as a student, yet there’s something troubling about this controversy and, by extension, these contemporary conceptions of free speech.