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July 29, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Editorial – Conscience

Universities were once supposed to act as the critic and conscience of our societies; the little voice in New Zealand’s head. But just like our own consciences, these little, sensible voices are all too often drowned out by the loud, obnoxious ones.

At Victoria, the desperate need to attract fee-paying students leads the University to spend exorbitant amounts of time and money on a fancy new Campus Hub, or painstakingly rebrand everything from University cars to free pens (because it’s no longer about ‘Getting Amongst the Best’, now that ‘Knowing Your Mind’ is in), instead of helping to craft what our society should look like.

For us, our rapidly reducing attention spans are constantly drawn in by even the smallest of distractions. The modern era hasn’t been kind to us: with changes in technology, our generation expects everything to happen as quickly and efficiently as possible. Why form your own well-reasoned arguments, when you can employ a hashtag to do the thinking for you?

Generation Y has become generation YOLO. A disclaimer for being apathetic to consequence; for silencing that voice in your ear like you dismiss a nagging Mum. When you really think about it, this catchy reminder of our own mortality should be a reason to care about things, not a synonym for apathy. Instead, it’s become the real life version of ‘no offence, but’—a throwaway comment that precedes doing something you know you’re not supposed to.

Sometimes we need a jolt to put everything in perspective—to get the synapses flashing and heart pumping again. Maybe last weekend’s earthquake made you reconsider what’s important to you—or at the very least, inspired you to store a Pump bottle and a roll of toilet paper in your cupboard. But one week out, and the earthquake is already forgotten; the books are back on the shelves. Our news section is irrelevant. Our short-term memory is occupied with new events—maybe it only took you an hour to replace #eqnz with #XFactorNZ.

And just like that, the little, sensible voice inside your head—the one which told you to run to a doorway, and call your mum—was drowned out by three loud, obnoxious ones.

Perhaps the problem is that our consciences have just become a bit lazy, and need more of a challenge for us to really re-evaluate things. Rather than using this conscience to be critical about the things we should be, our inner critic is—just like us—too self-centred; too often we let the little voice turn on us, and choose to doubt ourselves, rather than the world around us.


Molly & Stella

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About the Author ()

Molly McCarthy and Stella Blake-Kelly are Salient Co-Editors for 2013, AKA Salient Babes.

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