Student argues that campus events emails are a necessary evil for colleges

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Every morning, Union students are startled by the sudden burst of pings from our Gmail app. It has become an “essential” part of our daily routine – the sound of the campus-events emails. As a zealous email sender myself, I know that the emails, originally a great way to communicate to the whole college, have become nuisances. When I hit send, I know that most of the emails I work so hard on either end up in the Trash folder or are left unseen for days and months. However, I also know that a rare few people will actually open the emails, or at least skim the titles; this is why I still put effort into making short, terse contents with catchy titles.If the campus-events emails are so inefficient, why don’t we just abandon it altogether? But if you think about it, there is no substitution. There is no other method to get information to hundreds or thousands of people. Text messages are too expensive and limited in space and media. Facebook is obsolete; Instagram is for the artsy and the sociable only; and Snapchat is for the private life showcases, not for news. Concordiensis? The number of readers is probably equivalent to the number of people who open campus-events emails. This is not to criticize those who ignore the emails. After all, it is more than understandable to delete all those annoying emails that muddle your inbox and send them to execution. But it is to shed light on a problem small in nature yet big in complications. The emails, as an attempt to communicate, somehow wrecked communication. There are so many emails, so much communication that no one cares enough to read them anymore. Our campus-events email system could serve as a miniature for the current global media system. The constant buzz of “breaking news” in all forms: texts, images, and videos. They all deserve attention, like our every event deserves a chance to be at least looked at. However, they are all so aggressively fighting for views that we readers got tired. The disconnecting communication creates an illusion of being updated, having access to new information every day, without an actual connection. We shut ourselves off from new events, and we go to those of our friends. We create bubbles on campus, cliques, and sub-communities. In a so-called community like the world outside, the creating of chambers of opinions: the circle of like-minded people who listen to one another only so they feel like they are right. And that’s all good, until it becomes extreme, until you realize when you go to these certain events, you’ll see the same certain faces, and those faces only. You start forming a perception of “your people” and “the others”. You question the mysterious the other side of the campus and answer your curiosity with your own invented stereotypes of the people you do not know. You go to a college of, say, 10 people: 3 of them are your friends, 2 are acquaintances, and the rest are strangers. It seems normal, probably because that’s the case for most colleges. That is until you realize you live with this random person for 4 years on a 100-acre piece of land, seeing his or her face here and there, without knowing his or her class year, because names require much more observation and interactions. It is sad, it is natural, it is not unchangeable. We can have a new communication system. One that all the writers, activists, scientists, coders, and engineers living on this 100-acre land can definitely create. To create a real communication system is to make Union a real community. After all, “communication” and “community” are from the same etymological root. There would be no community without communication.

1 COMMENT

  1. This article is toxic and endorses the sort of attitude that a person should wait for other people to solve our problems for us, which is the exact opposite of what I personally want to learn from my college education…

    Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Concordiensis… none of these services suddenly appeared with a million+ users out of thin air… they weren’t even the work of a PhD… They were literally all made by college students who wanted to make something for which there was “no substitution”.

    The problem we are facing is a matter of culture. Most people today think that if an app doesn’t have the potential to be worth a billion dollars, then it’s not worth paying attention to or not worth pursuing. And as a culture, we slum into passivity.

    So nobody tries to solve the email problem because we already start to think about how this hypothetical solution could scale beyond our school into neighboring schools, and eventually be adopted by every school, until not even that is enough and we need it to reach millions of users, and once we start thinking this… it becomes too difficult and unrealistic to bother and besides, theres pro and by making the problem as big as possible- we pick the safe option– nobody will fault a person who can’t solve a problem of this size.

    But if the problem was small, if it was as small as possible, then it can be solved and then it becomes risky. Because if you pick small and failed, then you really screwed up.

    There is a solution to the email fiasco and someone, shockingly, is working on it. You should find him.

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