2015 has been a long year. It has been a hard year. As it draws to a close I have reflected not just on the path travelled but prospected the road ahead. My time at university is drawing to a close with my graduation a not so distant elephant. I have been toying with notions of what this time has meant and what it will mean for my future. It is with these notions I have chosen the title of the post.
Homogenisation – the act of making something homogeneous, the same throughout, or the tendency of something to become homogeneous.
University has this effect on people. You are in a microcosm, partially isolated from the rigours of external society. For many this environ engulfs them unknowingly, having arrived fresh from school at the behest of parents and teachers. You are surrounded by individuals of similar ilk in an ark of naïvety and when you graduate you come crashing ashore in the lands of “adult” life.
I have done a bit of “adult” life and turned my back on it to board this ark, and this has granted me a somewhat uncommon perspective. However was not sufficient to stem the inexorable tide of homogenisation. From 2012 to now I have gained many similarities with my cohort. My spoken vernacular has shifted to a more casual and expletive peppered form. My attire has drifted toward the mean cultural dress and I have grown to appreciate “pre-drinking”.
My attitudes have mellowed out also, I have become more accepting of people, less aggressive in my opinions, and overall my views on the world have become more amorphous and greyed. I think in part being surrounded by people forming their first idealistic views on politics and culture has softened my cynical edge. I am surprisingly and profoundly grateful for that experience alone. These are good things, benefits of the mixing pot of university and the positive aspects of homogenisation.
However attached to these positive outcomes are some negative aspects. While for me, the softening of my hard edges has been positive, the softening and tendency to homogeneity for those already grey and unsure results in an echo chamber of prevalent thought. A hive mind of idealistic and ungrounded thought, thought that does not interface well with the world outside the university microcosm. If everyone is sharing experiences, to what end if all those experiences are the same?
There is no shortage of disagreement and dissenting views on campus, but there is a lack of nuance and experience that can come only with life experience. This deficit is probably a universities greatest loss. It can be seen in the press on the other side of the Atlantic with the crusade of the micro-aggression. But this is not about that. I look forward to re-establishing my vernacular, and my attire. Those aspects of my self expression are important to me, and I feel their loss.
The other problem with homogenisation is with work ethics. Many a studious young mind has been swept away in the social allure of university life. The worst part, although the studious may drift towards socialising, there is oft little pressure the other way. In the UK at least the equilibrium point is shifted far in favour of the student drinks deals direction. Ask a student here on ERASMUS and they will tell you that a year in the UK at university is basically a holiday. Some ignore the ease, and work flat out here anyway, but those individuals are often held up not with esteem, but ridicule.
I have a large amount of work to do. My grades so far this year have been good, but they could be better. I have tasted the world of possibilities available to those with drive and means and I will not rest until I get there. Everything I do is to an end, but the beauty of this end, is that it is the challenge and journey itself. Wisdom touted frequently that its not about the destination but how you get there; I think finding the right philosophical vehicle in which to travel through life is the destination. That is something I have spent time considering over the last few years, and is finally starting to make some semblance of a sound structure.
The message? Homogenisation has pro’s and con’s, the last few years have affected me with both of them. Throughout this tug of war between ideologies, I think I have begun to approach balance. You would all do well to spend some time evaluating how you evaluate the world, you may be happier for it. I sincerely hope you have a happy new year, and that 2016 brings you closer to your destination, whatever that might be.
John Darryl Bottomley