Tweeting Bill Nye with respect
Damn you, Aaron Sorkin. Sure, you gave us perhaps the best one-hour television drama of the last 15 years, and for that we’ll forgive you for causing every script since then to be about 50 pages longer than anyone should be forced to sit in a dark room staring at a screen.
But then you went and made a movie that somehow convinced people older than 35 that they finally understand our generation.
Despite The Social Network’s many successes — among them, somehow making the act of typing cinematically engaging — the movie has convinced a horde of baby boomers that Generation Y defines itself by social media and technology.
Actually, we define ourselves by watermarks of the ’90s. Goosebumps. Wishbone. Floral stirrup pants. Every 20-something walking around out there is a product of the last of the good PBS programming and high-rise jeans.
And Bill Nye. The avuncular idol of our childhood visited campus on Wednesday, prompting lines the size of which haven’t been seen since President Barack Obama’s visit in October (Though, of course, Nye’s crowd skewed younger.)
But when Nye fainted onstage halfway through his talk, USC students came under instant fire in the blogosphere for ignoring the collapsed man onstage and instead reaching for cell phones to post updates on Twitter and Facebook.
Yahoo! News ran a brief on the incident under the pithy headline “If the Science Guy passes out and nobody tweets it, did it even happen?,” which described the audience’s “nonreaction.”
“It appears that the students in attendance, rather than getting up from their seats to rush to Nye’s aid, instead pulled out their mobile devices to post information about Nye’s loss of consciousness,” the article said.
Indignant commenters across the United States hurried online to mix metaphors and hyperbolize the situation. “Embarassed” commented on the Daily Trojan website, “I am embarrassed and horrified at our younger generation. What is wrong with you people. To [sic] busy to help out a fellow human being? He could have died while all of you were sitting there tweeting or taking pictures. You should all be expelled!!”
The Science Guy himself gamely awakened a few seconds after falling, and stood up woozily to continue his lecture. Some students said they had been confused when Nye fell, wondering if it was part of the famously buoyant speaker’s act.
But it was in the 10 seconds that Nye lay prone on the floor that USC students — and by extension, all college students — damned themselves in the eyes of the nation, which apparently expected the crowd to storm the stage en masse and administer collective CPR.
As much as bloggers might hope otherwise, this incident was not an example of a generational detachment from reality and empathy; it was merely a case of confusion in a crowded auditorium. Should students have been expected to take Nye’s recovery into their own hands when members of Program Board were already at his side and trained professionals were on their way?
Those quick to assign 2.0 blame by proxy to the student body should perhaps disconnect from the medium themselves; the Daily Trojan received not a single complaint via snail mail.
It’s easy to put our generation in the driver’s seat of the handbasket, destination: Hell. But that’s too simple a conclusion.
As for tonight’s speaker: Fear not, Joseph Gordon Levitt. Should you lose your footing at any point during your speech, you can be sure of at least one person sprinting to your aid, leaping balletically over Bovard personnel and Department of Public Safety officers to tend to you.
I’ll tweet about it later.
Lucy Mueller is a senior majoring in cinema-television production and managing editor for the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Everything is Copy,” ran Mondays.