By: BRENDAN McDANIEL
Guest Angry Ranter
Hi, I’m pissed. Everything sucks, and as a young twenty-something with opinions that people for the very first time seem to be listening to, I want to have someplace to yell about it. And while my regular segment, Not Quite News, is the perfect medium for me to sound off about things while documenting my descent into madness, not everyone is a weird politics goblin with a news column.
If you are a member of that exclusive group, “People Who Are Not Me,” then you are likely lacking in a reliable way to have your voice heard across the campus of Indiana University South Bend. Or at least, you were lacking.
Do you have something that needs to be said, but do not have a place where you can say it and be heard? Well delete your Twitter and get off Tumblr, because we here at the Preface are proud to introduce “The Student Soapbox!” Here is how it works:
You, the person reading this, can send us a letter of approximately 500-750 words about whatever topic is rattling around in your head and just won’t go away. For reference, this article clocks in just over 800 words. If you or a loved one just will not shut up about a particular subject, then you may not be entitled to financial compensation, but you are entitled to send it to us.
We’ll follow up with you, and after a few edits, we will get it published in the Preface. Why make a long, ranting post on Facebook that someone could scroll past when you could get it printed here, both legitimizing and signal-boosting your concerns while also providing you a physical object which you could use as a projectile to throw at whoever you’re mad at?*
There are a few reasons why we want to do this. First, as young adults, we understand what it is like to feel as if your voice isn’t being heard. Lord knows I’ve always had things to say, and one of the great tragedies of childhood is the feeling of being told your voice matters one moment and having it promptly ignored by adults the next. It is intensely frustrating for one, and the feeling that nobody’s listening to you breeds distrust of others.
That sort of thing should have no place in any community, and it certainly shouldn’t have a place in a modern democracy that values the freedom of speech. This ties into the second reason we wanted to make the Student Soapbox: to foster a stronger sense of community amongst our readership and to become a vehicle for collective action.
If you would kindly, allow me to speak from personal experience here: I’m a pretty opinionated guy. Furthermore, I grew up around a family and community that, while always ever kind and supportive, I was frequently at odds with in terms of views and beliefs.
I felt incredibly alienated because it seemed from my perspective as if nobody in the world thought or felt like I did. The loneliness and estrangement that came from it produced a great deal of aloofness and shame; I thought I was just crazy, and this was going to be my life.
But then I got to college. I was bombarded with new ideas from every direction, and for the first time met other people who shared some of my views.
I remember, earlier this year, catching with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. The discussion soon turned political; a difficult topic to navigate. I let one of my more radical political views slip, and he told me that he also held that view.
For the first time in my life, I felt seen. Here, I had a confirmation that someone else felt the way I felt. A great relief washed over me, shattering my insecurities and giving me a sense of validation.
As I pitched the idea for the Student Soapbox to Katelyn and the rest of the staff, it was this feeling I had in mind. We want to help people connect with each other, and open doors that people may not even have seen before. I have been selling The Student Soapbox so far as a way to vent anger, but it’s more than just that. Your anger is valid, and your ideas have power.
And do not let anyone tell you that you cannot make a difference. It is demonstrably untrue. History is full of young people using their voices to change the world; from Greta Thunberg and Malala Yousafzai to Alexander Hamilton and Louis Braille. Most of them were even younger than you are now, probably.
So what are you waiting for? Get your voice out there; the Student Soapbox is waiting for you. Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.