A piece ran in the NYT recently, in the Fashion & Style section, no less, which seems odd. What isn’t considered fashion?
I get it. And to some extent, I’m on both sides of the fence. As a faculty member at a public university, I want people to go to college so that I can stay employed. I want more state funding to go to higher ed. But I also understand that this obsessive push for college readiness is misguided. Not everyone should go, we shouldn’t propagandize college for children as young as seven, and I can only assume that universal college participation is going to line the pockets of major online operators, who happen to largely run the USDE right now.
But this article oozes with white male privilege. I don’t want to burst anyone’s Internet bubble, that’s been done for me: not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur or be the next Zuckerberg or whatever. Some people just want to get a paycheck to pay the bills so they can afford to do whatever the hell they like. And this doesn’t mean working a McJob. There’re numerous highly skilled and well-respected positions that are J-O-B-S. That’s it. Not everyone really cares about finding their life’s calling. They’ll work a steady job, or not, so they can go skiing on evenings and weekends.
So if you decide college isn’t for you, the message here is, well, you can always build an internet start-up. That’s it? Our heroes in this regard are Gates, Jobs, and Zuckerberg, all white men in the tech industry, which also happens to be more open to white males anyway.
I don’t mean to push the racial or gender issue here. These are my initial reactions and I’d have to think about this more to get a real handle on their significance. And one person mentioned in the article isn’t white, at the very least, but I’d be willing to argue that he’s of a certain economic class. Ultimately, not everyone has the means or access to treat the world as his or her own classroom. Hell, not everyone even has the desire, they’re not self-interested or self-important hacks who use volunteering as a means for social-climbing, and not an end in and of itself.
This article, even though it does profile one young woman, is a self-aggrandizing handjob for the tech industry, for those who work the TED circuit, and pat themselves on the back for programming an App. Not everyone’s going to play for the NBA, not everyone will invent the next big thing to steal our private information. The rest will end up on farm teams in Moldova with bad knees or in the basement of some IT firm updating bank software for the 2000 switch.
We live in a pretty messed up world where you have certain privileges to even attend college, and you must possess certain privileges to even reject it. Here’s the sad, cruel joke we play in our so-called meritocracy. Take your average low income individual. We pump them full of hype, name their classroom Princeton, and they have a small chance in Hell of getting into a place like Princeton. If they do, they’re so hopelessly out of place, in over their heads, that college is a traumatic experience. If they reject college, then there’s something wrong with them. “What gives, person of color? You’re from the streets, you have a young TFA person to inspire you? We can lead a horse to water I guess, but why won’t you drink?” Then, some young white amateur programmer “rejects” college and now he’s some kind of folk hero, sticking it to the man by going off and doing what millions of other little programmers are doing: selling their souls to Apple on the App market.