A few years ago I woke up in a pool of drool at a desk at an insurance company. I had been there for two years and well…I was so freakin bored that I had actually fallen asleep! So I quit and volunteerly stepped into the realms of poverty and unemployment. It’s funny, but I look back on that time with fondness, aren’t I weird? Let me tell you why…
I rediscovered the public library. I set out to find out about things I had always wondered about like the whole Middle East conflict and The Cold War. And one day I found Jean Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulation” and the rush I felt was amazing! I started remembering the thrill of feeling my mind exploding with ideas, opinions and new ways of looking at things. I remembered my inspirational teacher Tiziana Terranova (at UEL) and the way her enthusiasm for New Media was just intoxicating. I started re-reading a lot of the literature from my Bahcelor Degree and well…ended up applying for a Masters Degree here at UiB. While most of my friends were starting their careers, businesses and family life….I decided to go back to studying. And to be completely honest with you, I think I told family members and friends a bunch of yooo ha like “Prospects of getting a job here in Bergen will be so much better” and blah blah blah!! But this wasn’t what I was thinking! I was looking forward to two years of discussion, research, writing and being introduced to new wonderfully exciting ways of looking at society, community and technology!
Now, most of those who have met me (and I suppose read this blog) know that I’m not very good at hiding excitement! I was overflowing with ideas, opinions and I wanted to share all this with just as passionate students! He he! Any idea where I’m going with this?
I was so distraught when my fellow students at their first semester were already thinking about jobs. I mean…ambition is good, sure! I just felt it was such a drag to start thinking about such things! We were there to study media and write mind blowing thesis’! We were going to dig deep into things that only a University will give us the freedom to do! Explore, analyse, research, discussion! I for one was not going to pick a topic that would guarantee me a job! I’m certain I quickly gained a reputation as a ‘know it all’ at the department because I would ask people what they were looking at and get genuinely intrigued and share stuff that I had read or seen! I’d ask questions! But I was always met by this wall of insecurity. Perhaps it was my age that was a problem, I was exactly where I wanted to be! I mean, sure! I had my insecurities as well! I’m not exactly the brains of my family and I’ve always been somewhat of a lazy (save things to the last minute) mediocre student and I was completely convinced that my surroundings were ten times smarter than me (still am actually).
So…where is this ‘Dear diary’ post really leading? I suppose I’m frustrated by the lack of enthusiasm for academic research in general! Ofcourse these students are scared, because society is telling them that what they’re doing is useless! I read an article, ironically in the MIT Technology Review, the ‘European Institute of Technology Is Deferred‘. And then there’s cut backs at the university and well…my impression is that there is no investment either from government or private spheres because they see no use academic research. What bollocks! Apparently there needs to be shown proof of practicality before research projects can be justified!
I am so saddened by the thought that such bright wonderful colorful minds are going to be dragged into a system where their thoughts and ideas are being forced into a closet! Where’s the explorational thrill?!! The practicality of research? Are you freakin kidding me?
I was at a meeting a few months ago that was supposed to be a discussion between the business world and the university. I was appalled when university members were suggesting that maybe their courses should cater more to local businesses…that students should be writing thesis’ for businesses…yeah! That’s going to really boost new ideas!!! Jeez! After the meeting I introduced myself to some people representing a new business here in Bergen that’s supposed to help university graduates come into the business world. And I told them that I really didn’t want businesses holding presentations for me…if they truely wanted us to integrate…well…I thought maybe it was a good idea to have a forum so I could tell the business world my research and my thesis! I’d rather educate them on what I’m doing than them educate me about how the business world works. They thought it was a bad idea and when I told them my field of research and they actually laughed at me! I got some reponse like “What the hell is THAT going to be good for?!”. My response to that situation? I looked at them wide eyed and laughed at them back, shook my head and left.
Yeah! I guess what I’m saying is that there seems to be no pride of students’ work! There’s really nowhere to get enthusiasm and encouragement from! There’s no sense of intrigue and curiosity! Most of the students I’ve met are doing some fascinating things! They’re discovering stuff I never would have thought to look for! And the sad thing is, they feel worthless! There’s this overwhelming sense that what they’re doing is not important because it’s not related to a career somewhere! And I hate that! What they’re doing is important! What they’re discovering is EXTREMELY important! Academic research is important! Fresh new ideas and minds are important!!! How the hell can a country survive without them?
So…I could go on and on…but now I need to go to my bank and beg for money! Yay!! I’m just going to have to publish this without reading it through again or else it’s going to be eating away at the back of my mind for a while! If I’ve wasted your time with confusing arguments and not made myself clear or am not justified in my tantrum, please excuse me!