Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

That’s So Deep

“Dude, that is so deep.”  

“Dude, I know.”  

And whatever that “deep” statement was, it’s forgotten and never brought up again.

Whitman College prides itself as a top liberal arts college in the country. Here is where students are taught to think critically, to question their assumptions and to become global citizens. It sure reads well on a brochure, but is it true?  

Instead, after something is labeled “deep” it’s often buried and forgotten. In conversation, it’s enough to just say that something is profound and then change the subject. Now why is that the case? If we students bring a plethora of beliefs and experiences to this small campus in order to make us tolerant, open minded and diverse, then why does the act of labeling an idea profound or deep often silence it?

It’s because we are too comfortable with the present. Life’s pretty good right now so let’s not talk about something that unsettles it. We’ve got a good education, healthy organic food, and all the fun in the world; why run the risk of ruining that life?   Instead, that “deep” conversation never continues once it’s labeled deep precisely because it is “too deep.”    

Our culture emphasizes one thing above all else: what you buy, what you have, what you wear, what you possess is an expression of your individuality. Tobacco companies, after they stopped talking about smoking’s health benefits in the 60s started talking about how “cool” it is to smoke. What a stroke of advertising genius.

“The strangest thing about this whole phenomenon of dismissing ideas as “too deep” or to “cliché” is that this very dismissal reinforces the status quo; it keeps us comfortable in our bubble of belief and banality.”

Associate your product with a lifestyle, with an image, with a fantasy and you associate it with a particular identity. Customize the color of your Ipod to reflect the true you.  

Now, what you’re probably thinking is the following: Oh no, the Pio is publishing another column bashing materialism, capitalism and all the things I like. That’s so boring or even worse, cliché. Right?  

Yeah, you’re right but so am I. Dismissing the idea that “deep” conversation is dead because it’s been said over and over again just reinforces the point. Instead of talking about “deep” things, we talk about cheap things.   By making people into consumers, we reduce the possibility for this “deep” conversation to take place.  

For many students here, including me, our lives are the product of incredible privilege, at least compared people our age in other countries. We don’t have to deal with hunger, dirty water, or a civil war.   Wait, I just made another hippie, cliché and idealistic point.  

So, I must be wrong? No. But, what I say must not matter right?   Because it’s cliché because it’s been said before.

The strangest thing about this whole phenomenon of dismissing ideas as “too deep” or too “cliché” is that this very dismissal reinforces the status quo; it keeps us comfortable in our bubble of belief and banality. Isn’t it bizarre that when someone questions something like our materialism, our reliance on technology or some other hippie mantra, we don’t argue that it’s not true but rather say that it’s “too deep” or too “cliché” or that it’s too “naïve”.  

We don’t let that “deep” idea implicate us. That “deep” idea is dead on arrival, it never changes us because we don’t want it to. We may know that we’re privileged and that we are not responsible for that privilege and so we should be grateful and socially responsible, but that knowledge doesn’t stop us from enjoying that privilege with no concern for those who were unlucky enough to not have it.      

This way of thinking, or not thinking, is responsible for our forgetfulness. I have a hard time remembering the last “deep” conversation I had. Have I ever had one?   Have you?

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  • D

    Dan CrytserMar 7, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    This is sublime. On the day when our beclawed, mouthless descendants patch their nervous systems directly into the irradiated mainframe of the Pioneer website, they will look at each other and try to smile.

    But they won’t be able to, right? No. Because it’s in the future, because they have no mouths.

  • P

    Peter RIchardsMar 6, 2009 at 3:08 am


    You have an ineffable control of syntax.