Friday, February 01, 2008

Talkin’ ‘Bout Your G-G-G-Generation!

If you're between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, are enrolled full-time in college (especially if it's an art or design program), and you're reading this right now, maybe you can help me out with something.

My classes at the Art Institute have taken an unfortunate turn. For the first three years, the camaraderie was great. But then most of them graduated. The past year has consisted mostly of guys who barely speak a word to me, and gals who don't even know I'm there. That takes a certain amount of effort when the average class size is a dozen, and you're having critiques of each other's work at one time or another. The last quarter was the worst. I had an instructor whom I've come to respect over the years. But the class was disrupted by one fellow who kept coming in late, arguing with the professor, and laughing in her face when she tried to correct him. For an experienced professional with a desire to learn, it was unbearable. At one point, I attempted to intervene, threatening to take the matter "to the next level" if it didn't cease. (I did not specify what that meant, nor did I have to.) The professor got defensive with me and left the room, but later came back and apologized (for which she gets credit where it's due), the troublemaker found a way to blame ME for the incident (and should consider a career selling oceanfront properties in Arizona), and one of his classmates could only say, "Dude, you'd better watch the way you talk to her, man." As a sign of my great benevolence, Surfer Boy left the class that day with a full set of teeth.

Did I mention I have a 3.6 GPA?

That's when I decided to drop the associate's degree program, in favor of the diploma option. I love the assignments I'm doing, and I enjoy the prospect of a career transformation in midlife. I have nothing but disdain for professors who demand from me what they cannot demand from themselves, and hide behind their piss-ant titles when they're (politely) called on it. Do they think I'm some punk-ass kid who's still wet behind the ears? I was cutting my teeth as a designer when most of them didn't know a point from a pica. Yet in class, I give them the deference and decorum their position requires. (No, I don't lord my experience over my classmates; that would be too easy.) But my patience with their bureaucratic buffoonery is wearing thin. One less year of this crap, and I can move on by this time next year. But not before...

This quarter I'm enrolled in a class taught by another department entitled "Marketing Basics." The instructor is the Advertising department head, she actually loves the subject and teaches it like she knows it, and the twenty other people in the class are mostly women. Most of them actually talk to me as if I am just another student, and they laugh at most of my jokes (completely unaware of what a sucker I am for any woman who does that). After we split into groups of four to role-play as competing ad agencies, two of the women came up to me and said they would have wanted me in their group. (???) I'm actually enjoying myself, I don't have to take extra medication before walking into the room (Don't ask!), and I don't wake up with a start in the middle of the night.

Paul (who's reading this now and shaking his head, for reasons known only to him) tells me a number of his friends read this blog from time to time. I hope they're reading this now, because I'm talking to them too. It doesn't happen often, but it's from them as well that I could use a little guidance here.

NOW... here's my question: Is it me, or is it them?



Dad29 said...

It's them.


corrine said...

david. guidance as to what? --corrine!

David L Alexander said...

Read the next line down: "NOW... here's my question: Is it me, or is it them?"

corrine said...

i get it now having re read it four times cause i can be thick sometimes....its mainly them. one person rarely brings weirdness on themselves, its the group mentality of eighteen to twentysomethings that does.

ask paul, we've got our own thing...but most people our age fail to understand that you were the same age and felt exactly the same way then. ya know.

people my age, as a generalization, have stopped learning how to relate, and everything just stinks for them...does that make sense?

David L Alexander said...

Actually, it makes a lot of sense. When I got out of high school, one of the first things I had to learn, was that age was less relevant than previously, in determining those with whom one would have any dealings. You were an adult now, so you had to learn to live with other adults, regardless of age. That epiphany seems to be occurring later in life, especially for guys. You read a lot about delayed adolescence and sitting around with buds playing Halo 3 until you're pushing 25 or even 30. There may be something to that.

I recommend the Rod Dreher column that "dad29" found, which can be linked here. It underscores the result of the insular mentality of a lot of young adults.

But not you, Corrine. You're special.