There is a certain creature of collegiate life whose existence will soon be obliterated. It’s appearance is rather plain, leaving room for human modification. It attaches itself to the doors of residence halls where it feeds on the thoughts of passing strangers and the inside jokes of unsuspecting room occupants.
Oftentimes this versatile being is accompanied by a small, black utensil which acts as a distraction to prey, luring them to the white plastic void. A few subspecies have been discovered which pair themselves with a spongy surface that attracts loose pieces of paper.
Unbeknownst to the wider public, this secretly social critter is losing its place in the world of modern communication.
That’s right folks. The whiteboard is slowly but surely growing extinct in the halls of college dorms.
At least, it seems that way based on my quest for the elusive creature earlier this evening.
Yes, I really did walk around looking for whiteboards with my roommate. And yes, my own room has a white board, which we use for leaving messages about dinner, our whereabouts, silly quotes, and seasonal doodles. I don’t know what impression my neighbors have of me based on that board, but I’m sure it’s an interesting one!
If you based all your assumptions about college on movies and TV, you’d think every door has a whiteboard and no one has anything better to do than leave cute messages for each other. It’s like in those middle school TV shows when the girl finds a mysterious note in her locker shoved in through the air slots. Everyone has a secret desire to find that note, or in college, the “Sorry I missed you, call me -(name)” scribbled on the board. It shows that someone’s thinking about you.
So, if we all go into college expecting to see whiteboards, and bringing whiteboards with us, then why aren’t they actually used?
Of the eight floors (I believe 152 rooms) I searched, there were only 19 rooms with whiteboards. Seven of these were blank.
Some of the boards had welcome back messages, but many had goofy jokes and drawings (like my own room’s)
The interesting bit is that as I worked my way down from the first year to upperclassmen floors, the number of boards decreased. Well, with the exception of the floor for Ad Finitum, which actually had the most whiteboards.
Why this change? Why are there so few whiteboards in the first place? What has caused this change in communication?
It’s very easy to say technology, but is that all? Sure, blame it on the instantaneous text message, the Skype chat, the faceless email, but I feel like there’s something else to this picture.
The human element of interaction. Whether it’s a physical handshake or a physical note, it’s something that is becoming less and less prevalent in our culture. I’m not saying technology is bad, or we should stop texting and start writing missives to our friends. I’m just making an observation.
If you’re wondering how I came to make this observation in the first place, or at least to look into it, well, my boss asked me to. At first I thought “What? Whiteboards? Really?” but it slowly grew on me. I got excited to look into this seemingly random yet relevant topic and I think the results were worth it!