I remember learning in Intro Psych that a baby’s cry is perfectly adaptive. Its pitch is just irritating enough that you pay attention to it, but not so irritating that you feel the urge to crush the baby’s skull.
I feel the same way about my future. It’s overwhelmingly scary enough that I think about it sometimes, but not so overwhelmingly scary that I feel the urge to crush it. I may not have acquired any “employable skills,” but I still untag incriminating Facebook photos.
This Thanksgiving I had a peek into real world life. I spent my break in San Francisco with my sister, who moved there post-graduation. She has worked for three months now at her first real world job, at Google.
There are benefits to working life in Silicon Valley. My sister’s friend, who works at Facebook, was able to explain to me why the new Facebook deleted everyone’s wall-post totals, even though it was such an excellent way to judge people.
You see Facebook, like most Web sites, makes all its money from advertisements. Even though Facebook gets 20 million hits a day, most Facebook users aren’t clicking and finding out more about that ultimate spa experience. There are too many other distractions. Like your ex-boyfriend just went from “in a relationship” to “it’s complicated” with that girl who, in “OMG fall semesterrr MANIA 😉 pt4,” had obvious body issues.
New Facebook means more ad space means more money. And money in Silicon Valley, like the rest of the country, is pretty tight right now. Google, my sister lamented, just cancelled their free annual trip to Disneyland. Their sushi chef also left for a couple weeks. He’s back now though, making complimentary maki to complement your goat cheese soufflé and probiotic Naked Juice.
My sister gave me a tour of the Googleplex, a grown-up Discovery Zone of napping podules, Guitar Hero game zones, a real T-Rex skeleton and free Chiclet dispensers.
“You don’t understand, Claire,” my sister warned, taking a tortured sip of her zucchini-kale detox smoothie. “The economic crisis is real. My share-value has totally gone down.”
“By how much?” I asked, “How many shares did Google give you?”
“I don’t know,” she replied. “If I had any idea about any of that, I’d probably be a lot more freaked out right now.”
It was good to learn that the Yale cult of knowing nothing about the financial crisis endures past graduation. Other Yale cults, like the Yale cult of awkwardness, the Yale cult of chronic fatigue and the Yale cult of putting tons of energy into improving Yale even though it has no real-world effect or value, fare less well.
Romantic relationships are also different in the real world. College provides an infinite array of excuses to back out of relationships, like “I’m in college and I don’t want a relationship” or “you tried to have sex with me even though your roommate was in the room.” In college, all dating is expiration dating. Every relationship is a maximum four-year contract, which, at the end, requires renegotiation and usually a pleasant settlement.
This isn’t true in the real world, even in the fee love mecca of San Francisco. My sister and I passed a topless woman on the street with the sentence “Kiss me if you voted no on Prop 8” painted on her torso. We made eye contact with her. We kept walking. “That seems a little unfair,” my sister mewed from a safe distance.
The next night we passed a fully nude man standing on a street corner. I scanned his body for any political messages. There were none. There was a penis though. And a beaming grin. That’s some kind of message.
At Yale, we take for granted the pool of pre-screened dating potentials we’re surrounded by every day. But then I realized that my sister spends her working days in a similar universe of over-achieving nerds. Older, more self-assured nerds. They also pay you there. They also blast Damien Rice in their cafeterias along with other 2006 Grammy Nominees.
The tech intelligentsia, so sickeningly bourgeois! Making our world a peachier place with bubble writing and sherbet hues. Lubricating our interpersonal friction with art, commerce, technology and unlimited condoms labeled “I’m Feeling Lucky.”
One of the great benefits of an Ivy League education is that, if you navigate it right, you never actually have to live in the real world, ever.
One of the posters hanging in the Googleplex reads: “We have it easy, but do we have it right?” Google is a self-conscious study in self-perfection. The vending machines, for example, are priced according to fat content. A Lindt extra creamy chocolate bar: $1.50. Famous Amos chocolate-chip cookies: $4.55. Chiclets: free.
The probability of me finding a job that will have some positive impact on the human race: SHHHH BABY!!! I’d be quiet if I were you. Your skull bones haven’t totally hardened yet.
Perhaps I should tend to the piercing cry of post-graduation. My sister’s future, spoiled by Google candied almonds, is one diabetic beast of a baby. My baby right now is pretty neglected, anemic and rashy.
On the cab ride from JFK to Grand Central, the driver told me that he had given Macaulay Culkin a lift the night before. “So much make-up! He looked like a puppet,” remarked the cab driver. “Too much marijuana! Too much cocaine! But that baby faith. He still got that baby faith.”
I replied with a vague affirmation, the way you reply to cab drivers when you don’t really want to talk. “Yeah, you gotta keep that baby faith,” I said.
This time, however, I felt the cab driver and I had stumbled upon a kernel of truth.
I only realized later that because of his accent, I had heard “faith” when he was actually saying “face.”