Hey y’all. Hey especially to the girl who is currently selling chocolate-covered strawberries to lazy dormdwellers, who asked if the name on the door and the person with the columns and the person buying the cake pop were the same person (they were), and who likes the columns very much. Thank you. And everyone reading this should support the Magnolia Project, I think it is? Something like that. That was an amazing cake pop. Like, wow.
Hey especially to the guy in the cab on the way back from Satis, to the girl selling “socially just” cookies on the plaza, to the alumni who’ve Facebooked, emailed, recommended. To everyone who’s linked something I’ve written, even if it was just to complain that you couldn’t believe someone ACTUALLY THOUGHT that way. Yeah, I couldn’t, either. To every person who has introduced him/herself to me with, “you don’t know me, but.” To the Facebook stalkers and the Vondy regulars. To the dude at HuffPo who wanted me to write when I was anonymous but never got back to me when I was named. I know that sounds bitter, but it’s not. I’m honored just to have been read and noticed. Thank you all so much. I’m a writer, everyone! Everyone, that’s me! Only my face isn’t that fat in person, really, I swear. (I hope.)
If this is supposed to be a senior column, I suppose we’re all prepared for some contemplation of navels. I don’t have much of an oeuvre to look back on, but what I have is quite varied, I suppose. There’s a big difference between anonymously playing someone who is ill-informed and having to suddenly be myself but, well, actually informed. When I was writing as CGC, I had to pretend to know as little as possible, to keep the tone real. But now, trying to have actual opinions, I have to know even more than I pretend to, and that’s scary. The world is full of scary st. Andrew Lohse told stories about wading pools full of st to that Rolling Stone reporter (didn’t Hermione Granger out her as a secret animagus and put her in a jar after that “article” she wrote about Duke? I’m confused), but we’re in a whole world of it. It’s everywhere. A person walks into a news outlet—and gets covered in s**t. I don’t like it.
That’s why I’ve kept this light, here. I don’t want to acknowledge the world beyond leggings and Facebook and drunken bus encounters. The recent bravery of anonymous guest columnists and Develle Dish writers has shown us that even that world is scary enough. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t read my Facebook newsfeed. I hurt so much for these women. I hurt for my friends who’ve told me similar stories. Maybe I hurt for myself. Maybe one of those women is me. You don’t know. You can’t tell, looking, not about anyone.
This column is called “having a sense of humor” because I approached column-ing with the idea that I could attack important issues with a smile. And in some sense, it’s true. If you start up angry about something, the other party just gets angry back, and no one is listening to anyone. It’s like watching a Yorkshire terrier pick a fight with a goose. Everyone makes a lot of noise and no one wins. Internet arguments are like that. What you have to do is duck in with a joke. Make someone laugh, lower their defenses. Then say what you’re going to say.
Which works fine for frat-party invites and Internet activism. Those are humorous in and of themselves. But what about the things I just can’t crack a joke about? I refuse to buy into the idea that you’re not really funny unless you can make everything funny. I hate political correctness, yes, but there are two kinds: There is the political correctness that frowns upon certain jokes, but there is also the political correctness that frowns upon explaining why the joke is frowned upon. Why do we hate PC? Because it obscures the truth. But if the truth is something you can’t talk about without being overly sensitive, then where are we? (An aside: Since I waged a small, moderately successful war on campus PC, people think I’m naturally in love with racist jokes. I’m sorry, but I just don’t find them funny. I never have. There’s no originality in them, and they’re still too true to be ironic. Besides, well, here. Q: What do you call a fat old Mexican who’s hard of hearing? A: My grandfather. Comedian, know thy audience.)
I’m not sure where I stand on changing the world through humor, right now. I’m not sure how much getting people to talk about it really helps. I hope it does. I’m certainly going to keep trying (in between irredeemably dry papers on igneous rocks). For now, thank you all so much for reading. You’re the best audience a girl could ask for.
And my face really isn’t that fat in person. Really.
Mia Lehrer is a Trinity senior. This is her final column of the semester.