Becoming an Individual
We all share this world with seven billion other people, which can seem extremely overwhelming when trying to stand out as an individual especially with the influence of pop culture looming everywhere you turn. How many different identities could there possibly be in a society where the media is in control of the population? When it all comes down to each of us as individuals, it’s not necessarily about what identity you choose, but what identity chooses you. It’s about finding whatever identities you feel a connection with and making them your own. Everyone has the chance to define their own unique selves despite the media’s influence. I personally believe that a person cannot simply choose a single identity. There are a collection of identities that make up each of us in a unique thread of characteristics that no one else could ever recreate. For the purpose of this essay however, I have chosen to elaborate on part of my identity as a college student, and how the media has affected that part of me. The “college life” that I am now living is much different from the “college life” I had expected based on what the media portrayed it as.
A lot of different media artifacts had influenced me before I experienced college for myself, but one of the most prominent was the TV show Undeclared. I watched it a lot during the summer before I attended PSU which made it interesting to compare the media’s version of the first year of college to the real life version. In the TV show, the main characters were constantly worried about what parties were coming up and which fraternities to apply for. The only time education was a factor was when there was a big paper or a midterm that was put off until the last minute and a montage of coffee drinking and hasty studying followed as they tried to get their work done in time to turn in the next morning. Although I too have suffered a fair amount of all night projects, I have never been too concerned with the party scene. A lot of this has to do with the fact that PSU is a more dignified school made up of generally mature people with education as their highest priority.
One aspect of Undeclared that I have found to be somewhat true was the separation of students into individual cliques. My second artifact really focused on this subject. It is a YouTube video called Wicked Accurate College Stereotypes made by two female college students who playfully act out the many different college cliques. They covered nerds, jocks, preps, stoners, and many more. The way they acted out each part was exaggerated and meant solely for entertainment, but there was some truth in it. Students do tend to identify with groups of people that share the same interests as them such as school work, video games, sports, art and so on. Finding this sense of belonging is what everyone yearns for, especially in a new environment such as a college campus, so although the aspect of a clique may seem stereotypical, it is often accurate. The media may have created or influenced these cliques, but at some point the media didn’t have to do anything but support the reality that it had created.
My final artifact was an educational video called College Life that was made up of real student interviews giving advice and sharing their experiences of what college life really is all about. Most of what they talk about has to do with financial struggles and the fear of not getting hired after graduating. A lot of them also elaborated on how scary the first year of college can be right out of high school since it is usually the first time that students start living on their own. Getting used to doing your work on time and going to class without being told while also trying to fit into an entirely new group of students can be difficult for some people. A few of the interviews even talked about past roommates or classmates that they knew who committed suicide due to the pressure. Things that are often glazed over in the media are usually what affect people the most in real life.
In each of our lives we will all encounter many obstacles. The way that we choose to overcome these obstacles is what builds our true identities over time. A lot of who we are will be influenced by the media since it is everywhere you look. This can also affect how we are raised and what we believe, but we each have the opportunity to be whoever we want based on our outlook on life. In this world of so many individuals, we should all try to stand out as the best people we can be.
Apatow, Judd, dir. Undeclared. Fox: Television.
Frayer, Ariana. Wicked Accurate College Stereotypes. 2013. Video. YoutubeWeb. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIpoB9vTAYs>.
Hamilton, Patrice. College Life. 2013. Video. Films Media GroupWeb. <http://digital.films.com.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/PortalViewVideo.aspx?xtid=50120>.