Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Follow-Up: The Graduates Goes Quiet

In a popular earlier post, I ripped on The New York Times' The Graduates blog for eschewing a reality of graduating college: Finance and the rest of life's nitty-gritty. Since then, I've noticed that the popular new TimesSelect blog has gone quiet, just before graduation for many, but not all, of the blog's authors.

Has the plug been pulled on the blog? Or is this one more example of how out-of-touch the blog is with reality?

Or, put it this way: If "Eight College Seniors Face The Future," why did the future stop at the end of the semester?

The last post on The Graduates was on May 1, days before the first commencement exercises of many colleges. Since then, I'm sure many of the eight authors of the blog have graduated, moved home, or even possibly had to figure out for the first time how to sustain themselves on their own income. Surely, many of them have had to search for their first jobs.

Isn't this the moment of facing the future?

Now that The Graduates seems to have, well, graduated, there's nothing to show for all the worrying. I myself just graduated -- and I can say that the week after is probably the hardest week thus far of my life.

I'd also like to take a look at what The Graduates did and didn't accomplish. I originally received some backlash for having passed judgment after only one author had posted on The Graduates. But now that each author has posted a handful of times, I can say with certainty that most of my forecasted judgment was correct: The Graduates was a noble endeavor that fell flat, due to (mostly) irrelevant daydreaming and out-of-touch topic discussion.

Were there good posts? Sure -- I enjoyed the truth in Michael Erler's "No Jobs in Sight, but We're Busy Already," Tyler Graf's "Three Paths Toward the Future" and Anna Weggel's "Not Following the Money."

But there were low points too: Amber Wilson's shallow investigation into college senioritis in "Another Kind of Spring Fever: Senioritis" and Anna Weggel's obvious, nostalgic "What I'll Miss About College" (of course you'll miss these collegiate things - tell me what you won't miss! And how about what are you looking forward to?) come to mind.

It's not that these students can't write -- some of them can write very vividly (this is seen in the comments, too -- the first comment on every blog is usually, "beautifully written, (author)"). But as I recently heard in a trip below the Mason-Dixon, "you can't put lipstick on a pig." In this case, the writing is indeed beautiful, but too often the ideas are shallow, underdeveloped, or just plain irrelevant to "facing the future."

As I mentioned before, I don't know who is editing these posts, and this problem might have been out of the hands of the blog's student authors. But either way, The Graduates is haphazard and scattershot -- sure, like a college graduate's thought -- but in a way that shows little unity among the posts and even less original, or at least refreshing, thought.

Which is arguably why the blog wasn't that necessary in the first place -- it didn't offer anything deeper than what I can find on someone's MySpace page.

I read the Times to get a more comprehensive, developed take on a common story. In this case, all The Graduates did was contribute to the noise.

Plus, now we're left with the unfortunate task of wondering how these kids are "facing the future" and attacking the challenges they've claimed they are facing. It's like watching the first hour or two of the film Titanic: You see a beautiful movie about a love story between Jack and Rose, but have no idea that the real challenges are just beyond the iceberg. It's the final and fatal blow to the ill-fated blog: The reality that the blog ends before its subjects actually face the future.


Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that you're just jealous that you weren't asked to write for the NYT as an undergraduate. Most of the writing was excellent, thoughtful, and through-provoking.

The Editorialiste said...

@anonymous: Thanks for commenting.

I didn't say their posts weren't thought-provoking or well written -- what my main argument was, as per my original post, was that the topic of their writing didn't really subscribe to the original goal of the blog. Furthermore, while it was an interesting and entertaining read, I found it to be (at times) too out-of-touch with the reality of post-graduate life. Sure, some dreamy musings are appropriate at times, but it's not all that, is it? So what did it accomplish, besides as a lure away from standard educational news? That's my point, and I'm sticking to it. It's no surprise that the blog was so short-lived...and left without fanfare. It became redundant and predictable on many levels. It was an interesting window into the thoughts of an educated 22-year-old, but not an upcoming graduate.

That said, I believe my point is valid enough to stand on its own without claims of jealousy.

As always, thanks for reading,

The Editorialiste.