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MIT student blogger Rachel F. '12

Blogging Is The Salt Shaker Of My Life by Rachel F. '12

thinly veiled platitude included free in box of metaphors

Though I usually try to avoid being serious on the blogs, I’ve always felt truly honored to be an MIT admissions blogger, and by ‘always’ I mean ‘since I became an admissions blogger’. To this day, I maintain that both the freshman admissions and blogger selection committees plucked me from the masses purely for comic relief.

But what drives us bloggers and our tireless devotion to describing, in unnecessarily sordid detail, the microwaved ramen we ate last night while trying to finish slews of problem sets, and how, through an unnecessarily labyrinthine analogy, the caked MSG coating every mouthful of cheap sustenance reminded us of the importance of balancing work and fun because fun is the seasoning of life but needs to complement the substance of our life experiences, or something equally contrived yet somehow ambiguously true? What fuels our persistent struggle to uncover the truth and beauty behind depriving ourselves of sleep to slog through our scientifically rigorous work, for the sole purpose of clearing away enough free time to do more science? Is it vanity? Is it masochism? Is it all an elaborate conspiracy, and have our thumbnail pictures recently been replaced with cartoons due to copyright infringement because we are, in fact, fake people made up by MIT?

A lot of bloggers are fresh with the residual excitement of being prefrosh. They remember how intriguing that little glimpse into MIT through the blogs was, or how curious they were about the Institvte. That’s still true for me, although I wasn’t hired until I was a bitter, jaded junior, when I’d completely forgotten that the blogs existed and only happened to see the 2010 blogger application because it was posted around the same time as an entry Yan shared on Facebook that I clicked on while bored.

But this is what I get out of blogging.

Within the Secret Blogger Handbook, issued to all baby bloggers upon their inception, there is a lone yet chillingly effective guideline to blogging propriety: “Imagine you are writing a letter to your grandmother. And not your cool grandmother who has purple hair and a Harley, but rather your lovable but easily shocked grandmother who loves you very much and always bakes cookies for you but who only rents PG movies and thinks MTV is disgraceful.”

This, combined with the underlying knowledge that I am writing to tens of thousands of prospective applicants, their parents, and potentially anyone who knows how to use a search engine, particularly future employers, obviously means that I have to impose some kind of standard upon myself. I can no longer rely on ‘your mom’ jokes to distract from a lackluster turn of phrase, or to propel a drowning post inherently doomed by a lack of substance. I can’t be boring. It’s started to carry over into real life, too.

But sometimes, I’ve just about had it with the Institvte. It’s been a long three days. I don’t really care how space optimization in C memory allocation works any more. I just want to go to sleep for 36 hours and then wake up and microwave some leftovers and spend the rest of the day in a bathrobe with my cat on my lap, reading weird postmodern literature.

Stumbling toward the nearest couch, I am about to do just this, when someone runs down the hallway with an exciting idea. It is something as straightforward as doing algorithms homework outside instead of hunched over a table, or riding on someone’s shoulders while wrapped in a Snuggie so that we look like an unwieldy, pregnant, fleece-coated giant, or learning Haskell, which is one of the most intimidating programming languages that has actual practical uses.

Or it’s something as completely ridiculous as scripting a comedic mockumentary about two Asian-nerds-turned-rappers soul-searching through the streets of NYC and complaining about their first world problems, and then getting someone who works at Media Lab to break us into the lobby in the middle of the night so we can film it.

Often, when faced with this dilemma, I think briefly of you, and of Chris’s frequent email reminders to the bloggers to post more often. I possibly microsleep while standing for half a second, and have a brief, vertigo-inducing dream about carrots baking cakes in the interim. And then I decide that today will be a day worth blogging about, even if I don’t end up blogging about it.

Literally every time you ask an MIT student how their week was, they’ll say, “Crazy,” and the next week, the circles under their eyes will be even darker and they’ll say, “Crazier.” So I figure, if MIT is going to be crazy, it had better be crazy in a good way.

You don’t have to keep an high-traffic online log of your MIT experience to motivate its awesomeness, but having one subconsciously reminds me, whenever I’m feeling down, that an experience worth blogging about is not often one to regret. So welcome, baby bloggers. I hope you enjoy the world’s greatest part-time job. And welcome, prefrosh. I hope the next four years are everything you dreamed of and much more.

9 responses to “Blogging Is The Salt Shaker Of My Life”

  1. Kim says:

    If there’s anything to smear your due notice for a blog update, this is definitely one with ‘substance.’ Keep up with the posts, Rachel! You’re awesome.

  2. Yoni Miller says:

    Keep up the amazing work!! I am going to be looking forward to more blog posts from you, you are now my 2nd favorite blogger (after King Chris of course)

  3. Snively says:

    I was never the joyful recipient of the secret blogger handbook, primarily because I joined on in January of freshman year. I didn’t attend meetings about blogger rules or any of that. It was great, I got an e-mail from Ben Jones and all it said with regards to rules was “Don’t get me fired.”

    I can’t say I’m a big fan of the “write for your grandmother” policy. I feel like it can damage the effectiveness of some entries. Sure, everybody can read entries that you write, but blogging shouldn’t necessarily be about saving face and making sure you portray yourself in a good light. It should be about showing what MIT is about. If you’re super pissed at MIT and you want to warn people, let that anger come through in the blog entry. Not only are you describing the problem but you’re showing just how it can make people feel.

    By sugar coating the emotional aspect of the entries such that they’re grandma-suitable you are taking away the “read between the lines” aspect of the blogs.

    Just my two cents.

  4. Anthony says:

    “You don’t have to keep an high-traffic online log of your MIT experience to motivate its awesomeness”

    It’s really too bad, since I would’ve liked one. Oh well; will a low traffic one suffice? :D

  5. Justin says:

    If I was asked to meet in person with my favorite MIT blogger of all time, I would most likely choose you. I kinda do miss the real pictures though (and the old site in general O.o) But addressing frequent posting, I think I speak for every reader who frequents this site- quality over quantity, just like you’ve done here. What has become a salt-shaker to your life has become a salt shaker to ours. Maybe one day I’ll be on the other side of the glass. But until then…

    _JTC ’18

  6. Rachel F. '12 says:

    @Snively: the ‘grandma’ policy is quite succinctly accurate when it comes to propriety, but I don’t think it deters bloggers from being honest about their MIT experience. most of this entry, in fact, is about being jaded and tired.

    @JTC: i’ve been trying to steer toward blogging more mundane, daily-life snippets of MIT, which doesn’t necessitate sacrificing quality.

    @Chris: I LOVE SALT TOO
    but not MSG so much

  7. Rachel F. '12 says:

    @Snively: also, I just so happen to NOT be super pissed at MIT! surprise! lol

  8. Chris Peterson SM '13 says:

    @Rachel –

    I LOVE SALT.

  9. When I see that photo ALT-texted “I couldn’t make these things up if I tried”, I realize how much I miss the ‘Tvte. Only in hindsight…