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Fan Mail and Shouting Matches >> Opinion
For once, I think I’ll show some journalistic integrity and lead with the big news: This will be my last column for the Daily Nexus, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have been a Nexus writer. Gauchos, appreciate what you have. The Nexus is the rare college newspaper that gives its writers broad discretion and the result is broad topical range. Where else would you get the kind of staggering genius that I have consistently produced? Other schools, other editors would have not seen the point in defending trash TV or invoking provincial Indian elections (twice).
In all seriousness though, I think that’s the good stuff. Too often, opinion writing devolves into team spirit. Divisive and widely-considered issues are harped on again and again by both sides, such that the practice of reading becomes the art of reaffirming one’s pre-existing beliefs. My favorite opinion articles delve into topics that are strange or unusual, because, in those cases, very few settled opinions interfere with genuine contemplation. Of course, I have not always followed my own rule; sometimes, I am a terrible offender in my own right. All in all, if I had to choose one proudest fact about writing this column it would be that many of my subjects have been unusual in just the way I’ve described. I like to believe there is no other way we could have hashed out our ideas on child-naming or pop lyrics … or both at once.
I remember in my first article, I wrote a diatribe about how opinion articles should be received. In high school, I had found that readers seldom took my opinions in stride. Most of my feedback was unmistakably angry, either some kind of debunking of every claim in my article or a series of ad hominem attacks (“You’re an asshole,” et. al.). Snidely, I referred to this kind of feedback as “fan mail.” That is the mysterious origin of my column’s name, “Fan Mail and Shouting Matches.”
College experience, though, has proven this title inappropriate. In the early-going, some strange comments were made. I remember one online commentator who wrote a manifesto longer than my article — he accused me of advocating North-Korean-style totalitarianism because I was annoyed by constant voter registration solicitation in the Arbor. However, far more often, critical comments were respectful and insightful. More often still, comments were brief and positive, just the way I like them. The readership of the Nexus is the best readership I have ever written for and more than once readers have changed my opinion, not the reverse.
Here’s what I’ll say in closing: College is not so different than the rest of life. Finding the strange, adventurous or unconsidered in your own experience will serve you well. I’m about to leave and still I find new avenues to explore all the time. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered the aquarium near Campus Point. Later that day, on a hunch, I did the Solar Flare Challenge at Angry Wings. These kinds of days will always be what I remember about UCSB. Make sure you have plenty of your own.
Ben Moss is still regretting the Solar Flare Challenge … as are his housemates.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, May 29, 2014 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are submitted primarily by students