I believe that public radio could save the world. I believe in the unselfish simplicity that public radio provides in a world with so many distractions. With Myspace, facebook, youtube, the possibilities for self promotion are endless. I often worry that I am missing out on a large part of my culture and separating myself from my generation by not participating. I don’t have any blogs that I regularly read. I’ve never posted a video on youtube. In college, students use each other as frames of reference to discover what life is like and how to live it. Leaving was like poking my head out of a smoke filled garbage bag where I had been living for four years only to find an entire world going on around me. Now, two years out of college, as a 24 year old professional, I am left alone to sponge through the many cultural signals and pick my own path.
Unfortunately, college didn’t necessarily point me down the right path, in fact it is the perfect breeding ground for a generation obsessed with self endorsement. College provided me not only with an education but with constant affirmation through grades, sports and popularity. ‘Great grades, Phil’, ‘Nice SAT score, Phil.’ ‘Chug, Chug, Chug’ I surrounded myself with material possessions to define who I wanted to be like. Phish posters, Bob Marley rugs, drinking tickets, vinyl records, it was like creating a literal myspace page in my dorm room. Out of college, I find myself looking for affirming activities to participate still. I’ve tried running in a triathlon, I have a pretty decent virtual rating in yahoo! Online euchre, and, I suppose, I hope some of you might like this. Maybe I just haven’t gotten to that desperate point yet where I’ll need a myspace page for a daily stream of ‘Nice new photos Phil’ and ‘Nice list of friends, Phil,’ but I see it falling directly in my path.
The single element running through all this, whether it’s high school, college or myspace is an intense generational narcissism. Radio is different. There is nobody getting famous on NPR. It might just be the antithesis of college and my generation. People tune in to hear what other people are thinking and doing. There is not a line of people outside the station screaming trying to get their voice on the air (right?). There is no ‘win an hour spot’ promotion going on. It is entirely adult and incredibly mature. I believe that listening to NPR makes me feel like an adult. I believe that my generation needs NPR as a conduit to face the real world which is not available on the internet, at the movies or on television. When we finally stop snapping photo’s of ourselves in the mirror and start listening to the world around us, I know we will at last be ready to face the challenges which inevitably lay ahead. I believe that you should turn on public radio.
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