Monday, September 30, 2019

How to Talk to Graduate Students


G. Verloren said...

When talking to a Baby Boomer or aging member of Generation X, try rephrasing your answers to their questions to give them a more positive answer.

Would you like a coffee?
God, yes! I'm just so tired! I'm never not exhausted! I sleep twenty hours a week!
Nah, I'm fine.

Can I buy you a coffee?
God, yes! I haven't been able to afford coffee for months! I'm $40,000 in debt!
No thanks, I'm fine.

Want to see a picture of a dog?
God, yes! Anything to distract me from the constant crippling anxiety of the future!
Oh, is this your dog? Oh, how sweet they are! And what a lovely job your groomer did! They come to you? How convenient! And it costs how much? Oh really! Why, yes, I guess two hundred dollars a month really is a bargain! And "only" another hundred for the pedicure? How nice!

G. Verloren said...

I mean, it's not remotely funny in either direction, but it's at least marginally less terrible when the "attempt at humor" is punching up, not down.

It even has some insightful criticism that way - the entitled and privileged older generations are miopic and hypocritical, whining about things like graduate students enjoying coffee and pictures of dogs, as if they themselves don't share those tastes, and as if young people focusing on those things wasn't a sign of desperation and seeking relief in the face of great anxiety and stress.

There's a total lack of self awareness in this sort of "humor".

It is making the case that the biggest problem here is that graduate students are too negative - not that there's something deeply wrong with our society and education system which is causing those students to respond negatively when asked about how their work is going, when they are going to graduate, and how they will survive after graduating.

It mocks young people for being anxious about their difficult circumstances and grim futures, on the assumption that such anxiety simply MUST be the unfounded hysterical overreaction of "kids these days". Rather than caring about whatever might actually be causing said negativity in grad students, this kind of "humor" cares only about the "burden" of the older generations feeling awkward when they ask personal questions and get honest answers they're not terribly fond of.

John said...

This circulates among graduate students; older adults had nothing to do with it.

szopen said...

My students would prefer rather "Would you like a C?" :D