OLAYEMI: Students’ inhibitions leave for spring break
Opinion Column: Life At RU
As Rutgers embarks on its "do not ask, do not tell" week of trouble-making, mischief and potentially poor decision making, I cannot help but think about how significant the concept of spring break has become to our age demographic. A conversation that I was having with a few friends led to one of them posing the question: Is spring break really an excuse to wild out? By “wild out,” I mean go nuts, behave in a substantially less concerned manner, partake in scandalous or taboo activities, etc.
I believe we have been socialized, especially as college students, to regard spring break as the time to disregard inhibitions and throw caution to the wind. But is this much-needed break from school enough justification for what goes on during the week?
I am especially thinking about this, as many people I know are preparing to go to Florida and California for the break. Now, I am not saying that spring break has not always been a staple of debauchery and mild recklessness. I am sure we all remember MTV’s annual coverage of spring break, along with all of its vivid messiness. In fact, I used to eagerly anticipate finally getting to this age so that I could partake.
But, there is no doubt that this generation of youth is a little different. It is not that we are necessarily any more or less wild, but rather that it is much easier to be outed for our spring break recreational activities. With the growing role of Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat as tools of exposing individuals and their shenanigans, it feels as though no one is safe. This advancement in surveillance, and consequent increase in nosiness, also brings to light the possibility that maybe we go a little too far when it comes to this particular vacation.
Last academic year was the first time that I saw, first-hand, media’s relentless exposure of individuals just “having fun.” No gender, school or region was spared. If you made the bold decision to step foot on a beach at any point in that entire week, you were at risk. It was like prom weekend on crack. Alcohol, drugs, nakedness: The whole shebang. Twitter chronicled the launching of relationships as well as the public and messy deterioration of others. I was awe-stricken and confused as to whether participation in this college ritual was really worth all of the resulting drama.
Instagram and Twitter timelines were bombarded with pictures and videos of us — “us” meaning people of our age, area and even our school — for lack of a better term, wildin' out. I saw singing, dancing and regular partying, which is to be expected. But I also saw a countless amount of alcohol-induced fights. I saw stripping of an already negligible amount of clothing due to what I presume was a combination of substance use and adrenaline overcoming restraint. I even saw individuals’ scandalous relations with strangers that can be characterized as about everything but sex.
There has even been an ongoing joke at my job as spring break approaches, that those who are going to Miami should be careful so that they do not get stuck in the elevator with people having sex (a reference to last year’s very real Twitter scandal).
Because I am a little older, and less removed from the college shenanigans that often surface around junior and senior year, I cannot help but jokingly ask myself: Why are we doing so much? Has spring break really always been this untamed? Would spring break really be spring break without this kind of enticingly problematic behavior?
One could argue that spring break is incomplete without this isolated but nonetheless deviant activity. Whether you are one who actually goes on these trips over break, or if you are like me and live vicariously through the people who do via social media, it is fair to assert that one of the perks of being in this prime stage in life between childhood and adulthood is that we can do this. We can live as a more reckless version of ourselves for a week, not fearing the consequences of our actions, and return home as if none of it ever happened.
Others may contrast that opinion in saying that social media has eradicated the anonymity and lack of consequence that was once associated with spring break tripping. As for me, I will not lie and say that I am necessarily turned off to the idea of experiencing this college tradition before I graduate, in fact I do plan to next year. But that does not make me any less fearful of what foolishness I may be exposed to in this exertion of my post-adolescent freedom.
Yvonne Olayemi is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in biological sciences. Her column “Life At RU,” runs on alternate Wednesdays.
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