Seeing the gaggles of bright-eyed, pamphlet-carrying, not-yet-hungover prefrosh walking around campus for the past few days has me thinking back to my own Bulldog Days, during which I spent three days in Swing Space with a non-drinking host who insisted on going to bed by 10. I spent most of the time looking longingly out the windows of my hotel-furnished prison at the clumps of prefrosh who seemed to all be friends with each other already, and wondering how that was possible.
What had I done wrong?
My despair was made worse by the conviction that I knew who these cool, fun-having prefrosh must be: the Online Elites of the admitted students of 2012. You know the ones I’m talking about — each grade had theirs, whether it was the boy wearing a suit in his Facebook photo who had friended over 300 new Yalies by 7:00 p.m. on April 15, or the girl who started the “POST YOUR SAT SCORES!!!11!” thread (eternally bumped to the top of the list) on admits.yale.edu.
Maybe it was just me — I tend to be easily impressed — but I was in awe of these people. They were so cool; they knew everyone; they totally already had a hundred friends and were going to go to the coolest parties and meanwhile I was reading YPU pamphlets despondently in the kitchenette of a temporary detention center. (I didn’t even WANT to go to Yale anymore at that point, but, bribed by the free 2012 prefrosh T-shirt, I had confirmed my admission weeks ago.)
Or maybe you weren’t impressed and intimidated. Maybe you just thought those Prefrosh Elites were super-weird, like my suitemates did (I say they’re just bitter: I don’t remember any of THEM from the Yale 2012 Admits Yay! Facebook group). Regardless, they were personalities. They were recognizable, like little prefrosh Dean Saloveys before he became provost and lost the mustache. Even once freshman year started, the fame lingered — for months, I felt a little thrill go through me when I saw the pre-eminent Queen of the Facebook Group in Commons, sort of similar to how I feel now when I pass Sam Tsui in the walkway between Branford and JE.
The difference, though, is that anyone with a soul totally still feels that way about Sam Tsui, whereas no one remembers anything about those people who seemed to devote their lives to threads like “Gilmore Girls!” and “Why Harvard SUCKS” back in the summer after senior year of high school.
Here’s the thing: Prefrosh, despite what you might want to believe while you’re streaming porn on Yale’s awesome broadband, the Internet is not actually real life. The people you Facebook-friend now, unless they’re your future suitemates, are not the ones who will end up being your actual Yale friends. The classes you talk about excitedly on the admit boards are not the ones you will actually take, mostly because they’re all junior history seminars and the professors just laugh when they see you trying to get into them. And the people by whom you’re intimidated — or weirded out — will have sunk into the morass of anonymous, coffee-stained and sleep-deprived undergraduates by the time you hit the spring of your junior year.
And while that may be sad for those once-famous people, it’s nice for people like me, who have emerged from our sad Bulldogs Days isolation to find that maybe it isn’t too late, after all. Just because you’re not the most popular person on the Internet-based version of Yale right now doesn’t mean you can’t change that. Maybe you’ll record YouTube videos that involve clones of yourself singing ballad-versions of current pop songs, or maybe you’ll just be YCC president: Either way, it’s not too late to get into an awesome society that you’re never allowed to tell people anything about.
No pressure, though. If all else fails, you can always write a biweekly YDN column that is vaguely about the Internet and Yale (two things that have much less to do with each other than the rest of this column may have led you to believe). It’s nice to know that there’s a place for all of us at this great university.