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MIT blogger CJ Q. '23

someone’s gotta do it, but not me by CJ Q. '23

is it cool not to care?

i don’t care about things any more.

all these student groups i’m a part of, like tech squares or the assassins guild or esp or puzzle club or sipb? i used to care about them more. i wanted to fight for their existence, to make sure they kept going another year, and for more years after that, because i wanted other people to experience the joys that i did.

i wanted people to discover how cool square dancing is. i wanted to give students who’ve never touched a nerf gun before the opportunity to shoot one. i wanted to give middle school and high school students a chance to go to programs and take silly hour-long classes about fandoms or quantum mechanics. it’s not that i don’t want these things any more, but i don’t care about them enough.

i used to care about floorpi, and east campus. i cared about east side culture. i cared that undergrads could paint murals in their dorm hallways and build rollercoasters in their courtyards and get funding to throw parties at not-frats every week. i cared that east campus had a hall that felt like mine, one with two shelves filled with board games and people who liked playing them.

i talk to alumni about these things. how’s east campus these days? or, what’s going on with mystery hunt? they’d ask. i have a friend who used to live on floorpi, and he always asks me about it, and i tell him it’s not the same any more. he’s always sad hearing that. he said he wants others to call floorpi home, like he did years ago when he lived in floorpi. i tell him about how the culture and traditions fade more with each year, with nothing new coming up to replace them. he says that’s sad. whenever we talk about the topic, all he says is that it’s sad.

maybe i’m old. maybe these things don’t feel as new and colorful as they once did, to the wide-eyed first-year moving to a new country. maybe that’s why i leave meetings early and don’t sign up for games. i’ve been getting burnt out by many things, these days, whether it’s writing blog posts or talking to friends or walking outside. maybe it’s not surprising that i care less.

maybe it’s more than that? it used to be fun to care about these things. it felt like i was making a difference. by being president of this student group, maybe i could push for it to live a year longer. if i could recruit other people, get them to run for officership, get them to see my vision, maybe it’d last a few more months. by being hall chair, by running events, by pushing people to do things, i could keep the traditions going.

i’ve done all these things, and more. it never works as well as i want it to. it’s not like homework, where i know if i put in enough hours, i can do it. if i ask the right people for help, i can do it. it’s not like homework where people actively want me to succeed, because of course your professor wants you to pass your class, of course your advisor wants you to graduate. i’m in an institution that’s dedicated to student learning—

i’m not in an institution that’s dedicated to student life. in the end, mit has no obligation to the things i love. if tomorrow all east side dorms disappeared, and all student groups disappeared, then what does it matter if hundreds of years of history, tradition, and culture disappear with them? what does it matter if the students complain, as long as they study graduate and do research and donate?

it used to be fun to care. but now everything i do feels like punching air. i can punch harder, but i’ll only get tired faster. and i’m tired.

this year i will leave mit, like many of my friends before me. and while i can still care about these things even when i’m gone, what’s the point? i’ll be gone. i won’t be able to do anything about these things, nor can i participate in them. it’s always been easier not to care, to be apathetic. why bother with activism and lobbying and doing things when it won’t make a difference to me in a year?

some part of me still cares. not enough to do more, but enough to hope that someone else will care. that someone will keep punching and keep fighting. if i want all these things i love to survive, then someone’s gotta do it… but it won’t be me.