Everyone knows that change sucks, but does everyone know that not changing sucks?
Nearing the end of my senior year, I've recently thought a lot about Luddites - the band of men in the 1800s who were so distressed by the advent of technology that they waged war on machinery all over the English countryside in the name of their lord and savior King Ludd. In the long view, they didn't win per se, but I've always thought there was something sexy about that stubborn idealism, their nostalgia for the old days and their handiwork with a torch.
For my part, I've always relished in a little anti-change angst. I'm not particularly good with computers. I played coy when the Facebook came around. I never really wanted to leave high school. I don't particularly want to graduate college.
I met Amy Gutmann recently with a group of seniors and she asked how we've changed since this time four years ago. My inner Luddite wanted to insist that I'm the same: I'm still pretty bright-eyed. It sometimes seems as though all my friends are sophomores, so clearly my maturity has reached no significant height. I still really think I'm going to be famous. I still sort of am.
As a retired Street editor, I need look no further than the DP archives to really know who I was a year, or two, or three, ago. And yet, rereading these old pieces, I feel estranged from these old writer-selves. Most of them need a good shake and a wall-to-wall rewrite. I can't help but cluck my tongue and lament the wiles of my youth.
The old Claire's that I could dredge up in these old articles are not, of course, really or continuously "me." I'm not even sure if I'd invite these characters out for coffee: what would we talk about? The Quad? Sex and the City? Ew.
I'm nothing more than a two-bit Luddite: I have changed, and maybe even for the better. If only for having replaced "hipster" with "Luddite" in my daily vernacular.
There is no continuity: things are only ever changing, or different, and yet that's somehow comforting. I've spent so much time this year thinking about change, and resisting it, but truthfully, the thought of going back there - to freshman year, to the Quad, to my days at the DP - inspires little else than some physical symptoms I'd rather not get into.
If I've learned one thing in college, it's that the more you love something, the more you sort of hate it, and for our narcissistic generation, this couldn't be truer of our selves. There's nothing that I love (and hate) more than my arsenal of identities, the me's of yore and the ones to come. I'm even thinking of devoting a Facebook album to it.
Change is a beautiful thing, so help me King Ludd!