Contributed by Amad Ahmed
Although the Speedo brand is relatively unconcerned about the elasticity of their swim briefs, high-testosterone teens are committed to exploring the nature of it. The subject of these experiments is usually an unworldly kid, dangling from the pegs of a P.E locker room in an atomic wedgie after swim class. This experience translates as an important life lesson, there is a heightened awareness of what’s expected and accepted in social circles. By being aware of the boundaries of certain circles, personality can be regulated to ensure we exist successfully in them. Having been chafed red for wearing Speedo’s, our unworldly n00b now knows that its better to retweet a Fernando Torres joke than one about how ‘real’ Khloe Kardashian is. This fictitious, well serving n00b has compromised his individuality by diluting it with the image his peers expect of him – spiked hair, cigarettes and trainers with air bubbles in them.
Whilst this all sits well in the peer-sanctioned groups of high school, its inherent limitations are realised when set against the diversity of a University campus. This ‘grey personality’ is paradoxically highlighted when set beside the colour of fellow students – those uninhibited in thought, opinion and experience. It is the colourful ones that find each other in niche fresher’s week societies; soft eye contact bringing couples together as they contest uninformed interpretations of Nietzsche. The Islamic Society is by far the funniest, with oddball liberalists quoting scholars to justify sitting next to a hotjabi in a segregated room. To this polished crowd, it takes more than a vague reference of Noam Chomsky to impress and a sense of not belonging creeps in, bringing out the nebbish that lingers in us all.
Having fallen short of hipster-y activism and realising that general knowledge is too general to be relied on, the highbrow circles are dismissed. This is where the Student Union Rave attracts its minority crowd, those that want the duel function of socialising with girls whilst maintaining the façade of intelligence. Though it may seem to be the case, the rave is not exclusive to attractive people – there are no regulations against acne or wimpy arms. The dark room is forgiving to the pale complexion achieved from scrolling 9gag posts all day and the random flashes of strobe lighting do little more than reveal homo sapien taxonomy. For those with an insipid disposition, 18” speakers boom out the latest MTV tripe, letting conversation to comfortably plateau at the lameness of Meg Griffin and the epic killing spree’s achieved playing COD.
As uninspired as guy talk may be, it’s the safe platform from which lecherous phoarr-ing and corr-ing can de indulged in. The crude, noncommittal nature of these remarks is employed because women at a rave are by default, cold and indifferent; a historian friend described it ‘as if she were Siberia and I, an exiled revolutionary’. If ‘porridge personality’ does manage to strike a conversation with Siberia, a broad and generic disposition is adopted; with conversation limited to how rubbish WhatsApp is and whether Cheryl Cole is getting too skinny. If inanity isn’t prevalent, rejection often follows –in an excruciatingly loud voice, echoed by a less attractive, more animated, somehow involved friend. Following the shameful walk back, Burnt Porridge has two options. The first is to stay and take pictures with platonic female friends, giving the impression of a fun night with hot chicks. Alternatively, he can come prepared for chit-chat with uninterested and uninteresting woman, hoarsely exchanging celebrity drivel picked up from last week’s Grazia.
As it is a primarily shallow environment, Porridge has to simply fit in and get by – the lessons learnt from the atomic wedgie are again relevant – the special snowflake must fall into a bed of superficiality. However, once a porridge persona has been adopted and accepted, approval from Siberia is transitory, effortless and essentially meaningless. Life gets tedious in this cycle of hackneyed relations and it is only when a woman of substance slips in that the snow globe of banality is shaken up and a journey of belated self-discovery begins. There’ll be no flirty cackling coming from her; her cheeks will glow in candlelit delight as she laughs at your Dumbledore impression. The University campus thrives on people leaving their comfort zones in the effort to be well-rounded individuals, but rave night success does little to get you there. If it’s not a social setting that that is natural to you it’ll require a one-dimensional commitment that comes at the price of other, more worthwhile ones. Time is better spent in the Philosophy society; even if your contributions don’t go beyond making jokes about Nietzsche being German with a moustache.
Contributed by Amad Ahmed