When I first toured Duke, everyone told me about the exciting city of Durham. My tour guide proudly stated that Bon Appetit Magazine had recently named Durham “America’s Foodiest Small Town.” As I began my first semester at Duke, I found this boasting about Durham’s food culture to be well-founded. Downtown Durham offers a wide variety of locally owned, popular and healthy options.
Working on this campaign, I’ve witnessed much more of the human experience than I think I ever had in life before. I’ve met people at unbelievably diverse stages in their lives—from the tragic, to the happy, to the simply bizarre—and for a brief moment, engaged with them at those distinct and meaningful points.
My organization would still exist, and could absolutely still be as close, without its sophomore members living in the same space. And if you think that’s untrue for your organization, then ask yourself what that means about the depth of your relationships: if it is absolutely necessary for you all to be in the same physical space in order to be close, then are you really that close in the first place?
A local professor expressed concern over unknown activities occurring inside. “You see a kid go in there, and they seem completely normal,” he told officials, “but then they come out the next day, and they’re changed.” Upon these complaints, the Durham police gathered on Duke’s campus late Sunday night to investigate. But after entering through those dreadful Gothicc doors with expectations of a rescue mission, what they found was much, much worse.
When we live in an echo chamber, we never get the opportunity to understand the other side or to defend our own. We’re never pushed to substantiate not just what we believe, but also why we believe it. We’re never forced to test how our theories hold in challenging real-life scenarios.
If all my connections are really just one big circle at Duke that is derived from homogeneity in socioeconomic status, race, nationality, sexuality, cultural identity, etc., then how many people outside of my circle will I never be exposed to? Duke is an institution that remains proud of its diversity, which is a major reason I chose Duke in the first place. But I cannot help but wonder if I am truly making the most of my experience by remaining familiar only with the people I already know.
When activities no longer feel like conscious decisions, when the agency you originally exerted to begin them in the first place is gone, the enjoyment goes with them. There is a constant pressure at Duke to avoid free time and to make your day as obligatory as possible. But where exactly is the pleasure in that?