This morning I got a rejection letter from the Washington Post on my application to their summer 2019 internship program.
It’s a shame, but considering they were only accepting 27 people out of over 1,200 applicants… Yeah I can’t get that upset about it. Plus I’m not exactly new to rejection this year, so it isn’t something I’m going to linger on for too long.
Granted if I don’t get positive news from the Boston Globe internship I applied for I’ll have to figure out something totally different to do with my summer, but I already have a bit of a baseline with Gladeo, Boom and some other possible upcoming opportunities.
So I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing this post as a sympathy grab. Kind of the opposite actually!
I’m writing this post more as a symptom of how I’ve been overthinking the nature of sympathy grabs on social media and the skewed perspective that comes with a purely text-driven medium.
Sounds complicated, I know. Refer back to the “overthinking” part of that sentence.
But I’ll break it down into my thought process in its entirety.
After seeing that rejection email in bed this morning (because I’m one of those people who checks my email as soon as I wake up), I couldn’t help but deliver a corrupted, well-worn cliché to my mom this morning. Something along the lines of:
“Nothing like the sweet sting of rejection in the morning to remind you we’re living in a cruel, indifferent world.”
Clearly a bit of extra cynicism baked in from recently re-reading Stephen Jay Gould’s piece on “Nonoverlapping Magisteria” for my Evolution and Creation class, but to me it was funny nonetheless.
In fact, I thought the idea was funny enough that I considered posting the phrase up on Twitter with no context just to hopefully elicit a laugh.
Two different trains of thought stopped me from doing so.
The first was a concern that if I did post something like that, it would garner a primarily sympathetic response. Rather than having everyone laugh a little at the idea, they would just apologize and ask what happened.
That’s not to say sympathy is a bad thing, even if it is for the Devil. This just wasn’t a situation where I was actually looking to garner sympathy, and it seems disingenuous to present myself as though genuinely begging for attention online (where sarcasm and such is much harder to read).
The second train of thought ties into that idea from more of an aggression-avoidance point of view. I wouldn’t have wanted to post something like that only to receive a dozen messages accusing me of being thin-skinned and not handling rejection well.
Obviously cueing some sort of message about all millennials being snowflakes somewhere in there.
Because you know that would inevitably be included in the conversation.
Of course some of you will probably say that by backing down from my conviction to post something in light of potentially negative messages I’m just confirming the whole thin-skinned thing. I happen to see it more as not provoking a hassle that would be agonizingly predictable to deal with, but do with that as you will.
So in the end I decided not to post that particular post. All of the back-and-forth in my own head considering things twenty steps ahead that I probably don’t even have to worry about eventually talked me out of it.
What can I say? I’m a fan of overthinking simple things.
As a fun aside to further prove that point, I was a part of the chess club back in elementary school (nerd alert, I know) and one time got an opponent of mine to quit in the middle of a match by talking over a number of different steps he could possibly take as I worked on my own move.
Which makes me sound like a dick to children in hindsight… But to be fair I was also a child, so that’s not unreasonable.
Many years in the future I think it’s a funny little anecdote to reflect on.
With all that said I wanted to leave the thought experiment up to all of you for further debate.
Do you put yourself through these kinds of moral quandaries when posting things on social media? Or am I alone in grossly overthinking what should be a quick 200-character goofy, dumb post.
How do you feel more generally about the culture of essentially begging for sympathy online, or at least what becomes the perception of it by a viewing audience?
Let me know, it’s a subject I’m genuinely interested in right now.
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