An Endangered Inanimate Species

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!

A Famous quote

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)

Whiteboard2Whiteboard3

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!

Deadboard

Walls Can Speak Louder Than Words

When I started blogging I was told “Write the way you talk. Have a conversation with your readers.” When I sat down to write, my brain filled with cliches of introductions and I stared at a blank screen for a very long time. And then I stared at my wall, which is far from blank.

Some college dorms are decorated so they look like they came out of a Pottery Barn ad. Others bear resemblance to an insane asylum with white walls and overly bright light fixtures. There are a lot in between, but it’s safe to say that my wall is a fairly accurate depiction of myself: my interests, humor, loves, hopes, and eccentricities.

Which is why I have come to the conclusion that maybe by explaining my wall I can describe myself to you lovely readers.

And so it begins.

The first thing you’ll notice on my wall are all the art postcards. I’m (probably) a double major in English and Fine Arts, with a minor in Entrepreneurship. I really enjoy beautiful things, from sunsets to sautéed chicken, or violets to Van Gogh.

After you get over the 100+ postcards interspersed on my wall, you’ll notice 4 large posters. The first is an illuminated copy of “The Tyger” by William Blake I made in high school (I like writing poetry, not just reading it!). I grew up on the West coast of New Jersey in a very small town and went to a medium sized high school that strongly encouraged the arts and reading (my first love). But before that I was homeschooled for 6 years, which included the watching of PBS as part of school, taking history tours of the cities my parents visited, and going to a lot of science museums (along with normal schoolwork).

Of course, you can’t watch PBS for years and not see some late-night Monty Python or go to museums and avoid the dinosaur exhibit. Which is why I have “The Ministry of Silly Walks” and “Dinosaurs of Distinction: Pittsburgh” posters. The fourth and final large poster is of the TV show Doctor Who, one of my favorite productions of the BBC. If you like British accents, ridiculous plot twists that defy the laws of physics, and traveling through time and space, you should watch it.

The rest of my wall is made up of smaller posters, like The Beatles, Extreme Ironing, and some of my friends’ and my own art work. I also keep a map on the wall covered in pins of where I’ve been and where I want to go.

Are you feeling overwhelmed?

I know it seems like a lot to have on a wall, something that is usually taken for granted as simply a building’s structure. But my wall is an extension of myself. Its bright colors and memories held up by thumbtacks make me smile after a long day of classes or an evening meeting of Philosophy or Knitting Club.

No matter how busy and stressed I get, I know I always have a place to call home. My room and my roommates are part of that, as is the Loyola community as a whole. Speaking of which, I have some homework to finish up before I watch 500 Days of Summer with my friends.

I know I haven’t told you as much as you might want to know, but there are many more posts to come!