Exeter, Devon UK • Jul 14, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Comment How to become an Exeter BNOC

How to become an Exeter BNOC

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I hate you if, in reading this, you actually harbour the desire to attain the promised status. But I do wish you well in your quest to become a Big-Name-On-Campus, because it sounds like you deserve to be unwittingly wasting your own time. Nobody is going to remember you because you were the once the president of Muay-Thai. Nobody cares that you were once the dirtiest of all the dirty beats.

For those of you unperturbed by my splenetic hello – keeno future BNOC’s ironically called Pete or Kate, even Sam or Amy – there are a couple of titbits that even someone as obscure as myself can feed you. Heed this advice, because your path to glory will not be easy. This is no high school playground where ‘edge’ brings with it notoriety. In Exeter, ‘edge’ is all anyone can ever see and the only thing edgier than going to Hijacked is not going to Hijacked. Future BNOC – don’t waste your time with edge, for to do so is to spend your university days sharpening your razor to prove you have green blood. Instead, enjoy your time at university for what it is, because soon enough you’ll be finishing your third-year and staring with baggy eyes, as the fatidic verse of Tom Lehrer once promised us, at “that slide down that razor blade of life.”

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Social-media generates a continuum in which each of us has the potential to open ourselves out to an audience. And my is it an audience. From university onwards a Facebook friend might be a friend of ten-years but is more likely to be a Facebook friend of ten minutes; and, given this mass of peer peepers, our obsession over the likes on our posts and our total amount of friends – which we collect as the elderly collect stamps – is understandable. Each stamp stuck into our never-ending scrapbook is another tick of social success, as if each interaction is another victory, another Exeter hill climbed. This social hierarchy means that we judge each other on volume, not on quality. It doesn’t matter whether someone is a firm friend or not because they take equal place besides your best-man. It doesn’t matter how much you actually enjoyed the event within the photo, all that matters is that the photo was taken because without it it might as well not have happened.

Forget bitcoin. This is the currency that we actually pay into through our screens. I think that this cash has extra value at university, and the reason for this is because university is a self-contained space: the accumulation feels more tangible. If this is true, then we are losing our golden college days in exactly the same way our generation lost the internet. Think about the internet. You scroll through Facebook, ignoring the Guardian’s clickbait titles – ‘My husband masturbates on me while I’m sleeping’ – and then someone unknowingly invites you to play a game of ‘Stick Wars II’ so you close the tab (and then the Tab) and open up YouTube, only to be reminded that you cannot frolic in the wild-west of bitten fingers and undiscovered talent, as instead you are once again confronted by the yellow line of adverts breaking up those clickable-clips of Late Night TV which try to keep themselves afloat on the revenue of public space.

Forget bitcoin. This is the currency that we actually pay into through our screens.

Batman once told me: “you either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Wanting to become a BNOC reeks of a twenty-seven year old about to start their third undergraduate degree: nostalgic and regrettable. It’s an exercise of similar futility when we try to climb the university social-ladder by editing our online selves, because to change ourselves we have to think of our online personas as somehow different to our physical selves – of a different species. It’s like when a duck named Go clicks onto DuckDuckGo and then subsequently ducks and then because of this ducking he thinks himself a silly goose when the reality is he’s still a duck.

I’m getting myself into a bit of a flap. What I am trying to get at is this: it’s like Twitter. Search out the people that interest you, and don’t waste time creating fake accounts with the aim of driving up your followers. It’s an attention seeking commercialising fallacy that degrades what you actually have to offer at Exeter. Wanting to be an Exeter BNOC is a like wanting to be a large milktooth in the mouth of a small baby and not realising that at the end of its educational growth the tooth will start to wobble, then fall out, then be temporarily replaced by the raw feeling of nothing much at all, and then an adult sized tooth will arrive (with braces to make it regular) which isn’t all that special after all. Don’t worry. This fate isn’t yours. You don’t have the required BNOCery in you. How do I know? You’ve just finished this article. A true BNOC would have been too busy being a BNOC.

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