October 10, 2018

"Advice From a Formerly Lonely College Student/Last fall, I made a viral video about having trouble making friends. Here’s what I’ve learned."

A NYT op-ed by Emery Bergmann, a Cornell sophomore who made this video when she was a freshman:



I like the way in the video she reads a NYT op-ed and — a year later — she's writing a NYT op-ed. The op-ed she's reading is "The Real Campus Scourge" by Frank Bruni (September 3, 2017). The "real campus scourge" is loneliness. What was the "unreal" campus scourge? I can't help thinking: rape.

Bergmann's viral video shows her as a freshman imagining that other students were having so much fun together, and the video clips show drinking parties. I'm surprised the NYT published Bergmann's op-ed so close in time to our immersion in the story of Christine Blasey Ford's teenage drinking party nightmare.

But what "unreal" campus scourge did Bruni allude to? You can see from the last paragraph it's drinking too much and eating too much:
We urge new college students not to party too hard. We warn them of weight gain (“the freshman 15”). We also need to tell them that what’s often behind all that drinking and eating isn’t celebration but sadness, which is normal, survivable and shared by many of the people around them, no matter how sunny their faces or their Facebook posts.
What’s often behind all that drinking and eating isn’t celebration but sadness....

I'm so sure the NYT does not want us going back into old Frank Bruni columns that will get us empathizing with teenage males who drink too much! (Poor Brett Kavanaugh! He must have been sad and lonely when he got stumbling drunk with his so-called friends!)

But it's very easy to see why the NYT published Bergmann's op-ed, and I'm probably the only one who looked up and read the article we see her pulling out of an envelope in her viral video. Bergmann's op-ed is phenomenally publishable. It fits the season of going back to school. It's about understanding social media. And we see a young woman who's charmingly attractive and suffering just touchingly enough from a problem that almost anyone can relate to.

49 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

A comment from last September at the Frank Bruni column: "I remember sitting around my college dorm freshman year in 1968, with all of us lamenting how home sick we were. It was nice hearing the same thing from others, and that what I was experiencing was normal - it wasn't just me. We were not as lonely as our classmates however, who were lonely in Vietnam. I joined the Army after graduate school, and had it easy compared to them. My advice to college freshmen - exercise a lot, don't drink alcohol, don't join a fraternity, and talk to others in your fields of interest, especially your teachers, and TA's. Take time to talk to people, take your ear buds out, stay off the phone with texting your old friends - meet new ones. University of Wisconsin college students walk down State Street, texting their high school friends in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and they just walked by hundreds of students from Tokyo, China, Germany, Russia, etc. Without leaving Wisconsin, the world has come to them for four years at least. Take the time to "see the world" in front of you. The advice that my brother gave me was study really hard to get your GPA high early - he explained that a GPA was like a batting average, once you get it up early in the season, it is harder to bring down, and vice versa. He was later killed in Vietnam after he graduated from college."

mccullough said...

College Lads,

Don’t date any Lass who reads Frank Bruni. Better yet, don’t date any Lass who reads The NY Times.

Gahrie said...

What was the "unreal" campus scourge? I can't help thinking: rape.

Then why won't you denounce the whole "25% of women who attend college are raped" accusation?

traditionalguy said...

Too bad colleges and schools accepting Federal aid long ago out lawed Christianity.

mccullough said...

Don’t take advice from Baby Boomers.

gg6 said...

What is this, Whiny Millennial Recognition Day?

Kevin said...

It's not just college kids...

Kim Jong Il: I'm so Ronery / So ronery / So ronery and sadry arone / There's no one / Just me onry / Sitting on my rittle throne / I work rearry hard and make up get prans / but, nobody listens, no one understands / Seems rike no one takes me serirousry / And so, I'm ronery / A rittle ronery / Poor rittle me / There's no one I can rerate to / Feewr rike a biwd in a cage / It's kinda siwry / but, not reawry / because, it's fiwring my body with rage / I'm the smartest, most crever, most physicawry fit / but, nobody erse seems to rearrize it / When I can the worrd maybe they'rr notice me / And untiwr then, I'wr be ronery / Yeaaaaah, a rittle ronery / Poor rittle me...

Lash LaRue said...

She needs to learn to do the Hustle. The dance she did at the end was not the Hustle. Problem solved.

EDH said...

But what "unreal" campus scourge did Bruni allude to? You can see from the last paragraph it's drinking too much and eating too much.

"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

Gahrie said...

"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

It worked for Ted Kennedy.

Bob Boyd said...

Since her freshman loneliness story had a happy ending, I expect her to be attacked for her white privilege.

The Crack Emcee said...

"A problem that almost anyone can relate to."

Almost.

Fernandistein said...

White people don't get lonely, it's part of the privilege stuff.

The Freshman 15: Is it Real?
"The authors observed an average weight gain of 2.7 lbs. About half of the students gained weight, and 15% lost weight. Men gained more weight than did women."

I wouldn't trust anyone who publishes w/NIH but doesn't know how to use google, so take their results with a grain of fat:

"A Google search of the term in November 2006 yielded 203,000 links,"
Google may have returned that fanciful number, but it didn't return that many links: now there are only 246 google results for "the freshman 15" which have links.

The Cracker Emcee Rampant said...

“My advice to college freshmen - exercise a lot, don't drink alcohol, don't join a fraternity, and talk to others in your fields of interest, especially your teachers, and TA's”

Yes. Being serious about success has a cohort that finds each other fairly quickly. Indifference and indiscipline leaves you adrift and unconnected? Who knew?

Mr Wibble said...

Finding a social circle is critical no matter if you're in college or out in the real world. For me, in school it was a group of geeks with a shared interest (anime club). Once I graduated and joined the Army, I usually had some social interaction with fellow officers. I also got involved in social dancing, especially Argentine tango. The nice thing about tango is that there are groups in most decent-sized cities, and it's a little bit older crowd which means less of the childish drama.

mccullough said...

Kavanaugh drank a lot and joined a fraternity.

He’s now Justice Kavanaugh.

Obama and W drank, smoked out, and did blow during college.

Both were president.

traditionalguy said...

Phi Delta Theta cures lonliness. The Pledges must be hazed. The trophy girl friends must be introduced around. The SAE lion must be painted. The intra-fraternity athletics must be played. Who has time to be homesick.

JHapp said...

Universities should require 2 semesters of public service.

Bay Area Guy said...

How can you be lonely in college?!!? Your parents are paying, you got 3 classes a week, you gotta bunch friends, and the girls wanna party.

If I may paraphrase Milton Friedman, college is that pleasant interlude between high school and the real world.

Ann Althouse said...

"Then why won't you denounce the whole "25% of women who attend college are raped" accusation?"

I think the statistic refers to sexual assault, which I would assume happens to at least 25% of women and men. What's to denounce? Who denounces a statistic? You sound like a lunatic.

Ralph L said...

He was later killed in Vietnam after he graduated from college
A horrible, distracting ending to some wise advice.

The Hustle was a thing when her mother was a young girl. Gak!

The Crack Emcee said...

Fernandistein said...

"White people don't get lonely, it's part of the privilege stuff."

Blacks, too, but for just the opposite reason.

We should talk.

Ralph L said...

The freshman 15 is defunct because they arrive already overweight. We need more smokers in HS, or the cheerleaders will be too chunky to launch into orbit.

Ken B said...

Ann plays dumb. A poster asked her to denounce the use of a false statistic— 25% of college women raped. Ann pretends it’s the *number* she was challenged to denounce, not the lie.
Really, must you vindicate Hardin so fucking often?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Ken B said...

Ann plays dumb. A poster asked her to denounce the use of a false statistic— 25% of college women raped. Ann pretends it’s the *number* she was challenged to denounce, not the lie.

Why is it her job to denounce any particular false statistic, one which I've come across far more often from opponents demanding it be denounce than from advocate actually claiming it.

Rick Turley said...

Gahrie said...

"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

It worked for Ted Kennedy.
---------------------------

Well played!

CJinPA said...

"I went to Cornell. Ya ever hear of it?" -- Andy Bernard

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBUz4RnoWSM

wildswan said...

The two, (video, editorial), together are sort of window on how Gen X has the experiences we all have, loneliness, transition - i.e. the fact that she looked at her old friends' social media postings, that she made a video of her experience, how she visualizes the same essential feelings we all have had (I think this is what Crack is saying), how she had a viral video so strangers knew how she felt before she made her new friends, how her mother wrote an op-ed in NYT on it all and then she did. The whole experience was in a digital way all sort of villagey and gossipy and open. Yet all these people were really far away from each other. In the end the digital story was about leaving a real place and people and going elsewhere and finding new, real, non-digital people, as this Gen Xer realized quite well. I was glad to find out that she made friends at last.

Bruce Hayden said...

I don't know if everyone gets lonely their first semester in college. But a lot do. I had prepped my kid for it, but still had to buck them up at times. I told them my stories, that included most of a week spent in the student health center with some sort of flu, or probably, more likely, a fugue caused by loneliness. They eventually recovered, went Greek that spring, and had to cut their FB Friends down to 300 around graduation. Back up over 500-600 now. Again. On the way down to AZ, we were talking about my partner's youngest sister, who quit college about Thanksging her freshman year. She walked away from a full ride performing arts scholarship, and as a result, spent her career working for people who were not as talented or smart as she was. She was in an industry where you could do joy advance so far without a college degree. My partner blames it on their mother missing her baby, her youngest, and not demanding that she go back to school, as she had done with the older siblings.

gahrie said...

Why is it her job to denounce any particular false statistic,

She cited it in a paper.

Ralph L said...

My sister got mono a month into her freshman year and spent weeks in the school infirmary. I think it's the only time in her life she's been really ill.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Ann Althouse said...

I think the statistic refers to sexual assault...

It refers to rape, and comes from a Department of Justice report from the Clinton era.

The number includes both rape and attempted rape. The survey asked about rapes that occurred during a time period of a little over half a year ( starting at the beginning of the school year ) then extrapolated that to five years ( their stated average time in college ( which can include grad school )

This extrapolation is problematic, since rapes are probably not evenly distributed throughout the year, nor are they evenly distributed from year-to-year. ( Grad students were specifically listed as having a lower rate. )

LYNNDH said...

I did a Freshman 10, but then I lived in a dorm and the food was high carb and Mystery Meat. I also was only 115 lb when I started college so the weight was welcome. Of course now that I am 72 I can't get rid of damn stuff!

gahrie said...

"Then why won't you denounce the whole "25% of women who attend college are raped" accusation?"

I think the statistic refers to sexual assault,


It's widely cited as a rape statistic. I believe even you did so.

which I would assume happens to at least 25% of women and men.

You believe that 25% of men and women are sexually assaulted? What world are you living in?

What's to denounce?

A lie used for partisan political reasons.

Who denounces a statistic?

People interested in truth.

You sound like a lunatic.

No..people who say that 25% of men and women are sexually assaulted are the ones who sound like lunatics.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

gahrie said...

No..people who say that 25% of men and women are sexually assaulted are the ones who sound like lunatics.

What definition of sexual assault are you using? The legal definition generally includes things as minor as a quick, but unwanted grope of the butt. Based on that, I suspect a majority of people have been sexually assaulted

robother said...

Statistics are the devil's work. When denouncing statistics, it is necessary to repeat thrice the phrase, "I denounce thee, statistic, and all thy components!"

readering said...

Seems like a few years ago there were a lot of articles about epidemic of college suicides.

n.n said...

The real campus scourge is a demand to reconcile priorities, interests, and expectations.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The real campus scourge is tuition.

PM said...

Funny, I worked as men's dorm janitor at the college I went to. A horrific job. I probably was lonely but I was too GD busy to wallow in it.

Howard said...

only the boring are lonely. being alone and being lonely are not the same.

readering said...

By the way, did she have a huge single room as a frosh? Murdered her room mate?

Roughcoat said...

Be thou a lamp unto to thyself, O Ananda.

Ann Althouse said...

“It refers to rape, and comes from a Department of Justice report from the Clinton era.”

That link is about a survey done in 1997. My article, published in 1992, cited a book published in 1988. My footnote takes account of the problem of definition. Nothing I wrote does anything that depends on what the actual number is, and it’s obvious that the real number is unknowable.

Ann Althouse said...

The 1988 book is “I Never Called It Rape,” which is clear about its agenda to define rape as unwanted sex. Do you think 25% of college women have had sex that they did not want? That would include giving in to a persistent partner, for example a boyfriend who threatens to leave you, and sex where you’re too drunk to think about or express what you want. With that definition, 25% sounds like a low estimate to me. I took my number from a published survey, and I see nothing to apologize for.

Ralph L said...

That would include giving in to a persistent partner, for example a boyfriend who threatens to leave you, and sex where you’re too drunk to think about or express what you want.

But they blame men for women being push overs. #MeTooLate.

The Godfather said...

"Do you think 25% of college women have had sex that they did not want? That would include giving in to a persistent partner, for example a boyfriend who threatens to leave you". That's called "consent".

Gahrie said...

Do you think 25% of college women have had sex that they did not want? That would include giving in to a persistent partner, for example a boyfriend who threatens to leave you

No woman must ever be made to feel bad about, or responsible for, anything, ever.

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