It's rare that I speak in more than passing comment about work on this blog, but I was moved yesterday by a series of incidents that underpinned either just how old I am or how much the world has changed.
It's the last day of term today and the students all go home - well, to be more accurate, the scant few that are still here go home. Last night was the Graduation Ball and it was really rather good. Well, up until the point where Liberty X had their flight indefinitely delayed and thus had to call off their last ever gig. Arriving at work today we all logged onto our computers and dreaded the catcalling and bitching on Facebook from the oh-so-indignent masses.
Lets just look at that paragraph again and some of the phenomena within it? First off, students leave university now just about the day that they finish their exams. They don't want to hang about and soak in those last few days of university life. They are -desperate- to get back to the bosom of their family or into the world of graduate employment or tromping off around the world. There seems to be very little sentimentality attached to the higher education nowadays. Whilst the Grad Ball was a great laugh, it just didn't seem to have the emotional resonance that I associate with the event.
Now that could have been to do with the fact that the headline act didn't turn up, but in the end from the views of the students I canvassed, it wasn't that much of a problem. There were some however, who were being very drunk and very 'I've studied law you know!!' . I find this aspect of it all so very amazing. There is a positive thinking culture to do with recruitment that generates a certain type of graduate - the one who thinks that what you learn at Uni equips you for everything in the world and that they can solve any crisis, because they have a degree. And boy do they let you know it!! Silly thing is that once you do get some post-Uni time on the clock you quickly learn that the world simply doesn't work like your lecturer says and there are a load of restrictions and complications and interpersonal things that you have to deal with on every level. Indeed, for Mr Lawyer Child, I think he should speak with some of my lawyer friends (waves at Andrew) and ask them about how free and easy they can be with their legal 'advice'. I believe they would be stunned.
However, I believe that the real source of the lack of emotional resonance is the proliferation of social networking applications like Facebook. I'm sure those of you that have been to Uni will be familiar with the question, upon meeting one of your old friends 'Are you still in touch with ...?' Well, despite being the loveliest person I know, I'm actually only in formal contact (ie. beyond Christmas cards) with ONE person from Uni! Thats quite sad but in the reality of things, you simply could not constantly phone and visit all of your friends around the country. Facebook (and MySpace and all of the other things like this) offer the opportunity to maintain relationships online long after the physical immediacy has faded. I was dragged onto Facebook so that I could evaluate it as a promotional tool for work, but in so doing I have managed to accumulate 33 'friends' from across the world, including a guy I used to live with at Uni, some folk that I met in the USA and some business contacts of old. And, of course, a slew of students.
Students that, in normal circumstances, I would never see or hear from again as of .... 5 hours time. Thats a thing of the past though. Through these applications you can instantly communicate with all of your friends, from a PC. You can maintain more than a passing 'relationship' with them FAR easier than back in the day. It's fascinating! The upshot naturally being the distinct lack of tears on Grad Ball night! Rather than going your seperate ways never to meet again, the kids will be tagging uploaded photos of drunken excess and starting a 'Lets Sue the Union Cos of Liberty X' groups.
Thats progress folks....