We've noticed with amusement that the New York Times has recently begun to report on collegiate "trends." Our friends at "I'm Schmacked" got 700 words last week. There was this hand-wringing blog post on the 19th about whether hazing should make a high schooler think twice about a school. And, in a baffling example of ivory tower idiocy, there was this profile on college graduates who work at farms, presumably written by someone who has never heard of a fucking agricultural program.
But this article yesterday, wow. If there is a God and He is merciful, this should be the last time the Times writes about college "trends" for a while. Just take it easy, Grey Lady. Why don't you stop talking for a while? Sit the next couple plays out, if you know what I mean.
Titled "Last Call for College Bars," the trend piece attempts to make a case that college bars are dying because of social media. Because of Facebook and Twitter and Grindr (?), kids don't meet up at bars anymore, the article informs us. Kids these days are instead using the Internet to organize their nights out. The pull quote below is essentially the point writer Courtney Rubin's is trying to make, before her article literally devolves into explaining to people who still read newspapers what a pregame is (no really, that's what page 2 is about.)
Once upon a time, in the Pleistocene epoch before cellphones and social media, students used bars as meeting places, heading there after class to find friends and to plot evenings over beer.
These days text messaging, Facebook and Foursquare make it possible to see if a bar is worth the trip (translation: who is there) without leaving the dorm. Meanwhile, location-based mobile apps like Grindr, which point to the nearest available candidates looking for sex or not-quite-sex, are helping dethrone college bars from their place as meat markets.
Got that? The New York Times is actually trying to make the case that college bars are dying because of Facebook, Twitter, and Grindr, the gay sex app. Yes, Grindr.
Two things: One, anyone who has attended college while also possessing a Facebook account over the last 5 or so years knows that while you don't meet at bars early in the night to map evenings, you still go to them, spend money, and probably end up staying out much later than your parents did while in school. College bars have long since mimicked city clubs in that regard—this isn't the '50s, when college kids had two beers at 9 p.m. then called it a night.
Which brings me to point two: Pregames last later than in the past, because, let's face it, there's less money going around than in brighter pre-crash times. This doesn't take away from the fact that nights spent staying in are still considered unsuccessful. People just have to be a little more frugal with their money, which has nothing to do with Facebook. They're just broke and the student loans don't help.
(Also, what was her sample size here again? Cornell? The same school that is severely cracking down on underage drinking after a kid died last year? You think that might be a not-so-hot place to look at broader trends pertaining to the overall health of college bars? Here are other randomly selected college towns showing healthy late night scenes: Here are the owners of Ann Arbor's Good Time Charley's opening another club near Michigan's campus. Here's Illinois chalking up its recent addition on the Princeton Review's Top Party School list to a thriving bar scene. Plenty of other examples exist.)
Now, finally, let's look at where her piece really falls apart: the quotes. As Ivygate reported yesterday, six of the people identified in the story gave fake names to the Times. The story now carries a correction because, shockingly, the Ivy League-educated kids were underage and didn't want to use their real names. It's almost like they heard of employers' Googling names or something! Hey, maybe they read about it in the New York Times? If there ever was a sign at how out-of-touch this institution is with the people it covers, it's thinking that underage kids are going to use their real names.
Bars are fine. New media is not destroying them. For something new media is destroying, the Times should take a gander at itself.