What is “involution,” and why is it representative of disillusioned American students?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Virginia Choy on Unsplash

With each passing day, the world appears bleaker. Joblessness, global pandemic, economic and political stagnation — depression is at an all-time high, and mental health care is cut as hospitals and doctors remain overwhelmed. The daily notifications I receive regarding full ICU beds where I live and record infection numbers in my state blend like the days I spend indoors, waiting in limbo for the world to return to normalcy.

Under this backdrop, high school seniors, many of whom have not been in a classroom since March of last year, are currently applying to colleges. A selection of items missing from their applications: standardized tests, summer camps, sports games, music recitals, a year of high school grades. Some students have transitioned to full-time caregivers, others taking on part-and-full-time jobs to support their families.


Why it is beneficial to guide those in the process of transitioning rather than put-downs.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞 on Unsplash

“If the Democratic nominee isn’t Bernie Sanders, I’m not going to vote in November.”

I often see self-proclaimed “free thinkers” who discriminate against peers who are not “free” enough. Present mostly on internet forums, under the cover of anonymity they judge everyone with a stubborn, gatekeeping mentality. An arbitrary bar is set: if a newcomer to the hobby, party, or sport does not fulfill it, they are not “real”. What even is “real”?

Every niche has these zealots — you can find them in disparate fields as veganism, gun hobbists, and TV show fandoms, pushing their message: “If you are not entirely for me, you are completely against me.” Though benign, if sometimes annoying when confined to fields with a limited real-world impact — Marvel vs D.C. …


CS applicants — more competitive and numerous than ever.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Christopher Gower on Unsplash

The question in the title might at first seem odd — what student applying to Computer Science (CS) doesn’t actually want to study it?

I’ll start off by saying — if you compete in Code Jam, go on GitHub more than social media, or spend your free time on Linux forums shilling for Arch — this article isn’t for you.

Where I grew up, however, students were by default a CS major. Unless you had firm beliefs regarding your major or intended career, the common consensus was “just study CS and you’ll work it out later.”

Perhaps they’re not wrong. CS pays well, with job opportunities in innumerable fields. Tech as a sector grows day-by-day, and the benefits of working from home only look more appealing in the time of a pandemic. Low-risk, unathletic, good pay, broadly applicable, easy-to-learn — who wouldn’t recommend CS as the go-to major for wavering high school students not yet sure of their purpose in life? …


Admissions officers see these as red flags.

Image for post
Image for post

The college application process for many students represents the culmination of their high school journey, where all the hard work pays off with a letter of admission to what they hope will be their dream college.

There is much discussion over what exactly to focus on or include on an application — do schools prefer quantity over quality? Should students focus on the breadth or depth of experience? Do readers prefer simple language or sophisticated prose? …


Stress, Isolation, and Metaphors in the Subconscious Mind.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Sudan Ouyang on Unsplash

I am walking down Broadway in the dead of night. Not a soul in sight — empty parked cars reflect the light of the neon screens illuminating the street. As I turn my head to look around, the only face I see is that of Conan O’Brien, affixed to the side of the building — a poster promoting his late-night show. I hear rustling behind me. I turn.

It’s Conan himself, walking toward me. He wears a macabre grin; his right hand hidden behind his back. I can feel him laughing at me, but his mouth does not move. …


The price of sacrificing accountability for efficiency and profit.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

When Amazon began its meteoric rise to power, no one could have imagined the company expanding from an online bookstore to the premier source of Nick Cage sequin pillows, real human finger bones, and everything in between. Amazon’s dominance, ascribed to its global shipping networks and logistics management, has allowed it to make founder Jeff Bezos the Forbes billionaire record-breaker and propel its quarterly profits to $5.2 billion.

In the past few years, however, Amazon has been hammered by advocacy groups and angry consumers for allowing the sale of counterfeit products intermingled with the genuine. …


Short Answer: It is what you make of it.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Em M. on Unsplash

It was my first day on my high school campus. Between the club booths on Orientation Day were crowds of eager children with parents in tow, pushing and shoving as they moved between the gym and the library (for the historians, this was a few years before social distancing). There were the usual suspects: Speech and Debate, Science Bowl, CSF, Music Boosters, Sports Teams. The one pitch they all gave to me?

“Have you thought of going to a top university? If so, join us!”

I suppose you could call my high school competitive in terms of college admissions; the demographics were majority first-generation, Asian, middle-class — the group most likely to be swayed by college admissions claims of questionable veracity. I myself joined countless clubs in the desperate attempt to achieve my admissions goals. …


The sooner we admit reopening schools will lead to disaster, the sooner we can begin a smooth transition to distance learning.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

In Georgia, a second grader has tested positive for COVID-19 after the first day of school, forcing the class to quarantine.

Every single epidemiologist, doctor, and scientist agrees: reopening schools is a ridiculous idea. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that, after plague rats, children are the strongest form of disease vector on the planet. They lick doorknobs and their fingers. Play in the dirt and shove pencils in their mouth. Don’t wash their hands, hawk loogies, and do all types of unsanitary things that without modern medicine I’d be surprised so many of us survive to adulthood. …


A timeline for how Kushner and the Trump Administration put politics and “good publicity” before American lives.

Image for post
Image for post
Jared Kushner, Wikimedia Commons

On July 30th, Vanity Fair broke the news of a series of fatal decisions and mistakes made by members of the Trump Administration which lead to a nonexistent federal response to Covid-19. Specifically, Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, was in charge of a brain-trust designed to find solutions to the dearth of testing kits. Instead, the administration axed the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan for testing and contact tracing and seized hundreds of thousands of privately-purchased tests and PPE. Note: The United States has 4.64 million confirmed cases to date. Why did Kushner abandon a strategy, which, if implemented correctly, would have minimized American lives lost? …


Congress couldn’t reset a WiFi router, let alone regulate tech giants.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

Yesterday, the titans of the tech industry: Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Sundar Pichai of Google, Tim Cook of Apple, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook testified before Congress. If you were instead busy looking at: Covid-19 death rates breaking records again, Donald Trump claiming he would delay the presidential election, or plain-clothed federal officials in Portland kidnapping civilians in broad daylight; yeah, let’s just say it’s been a long week.

Good news for those who eschewed: there was no reason to watch. A Google Search of the hearing brings up articles mentioning promising terms such as “grilled,” “roasted,” “attacked,” and “coming under fire” — one of them is even from The Washington Post (ironic). …

About

Kevin Fang

blogger, swimmer, temporarily-embarrassed millionaire.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store