Elon Musk and his seemingly empty promises

Commentary

Chude Uzoka, Staff

A few months ago, I told my friends that if Elon Musk bought Twitter, he wouldn’t actually fix it the way people wanted. That’s because what people wanted was a completely unmoderated utopia (or dystopia) for people to say whatever they wanted and for Elon to bring all of the banned accounts like Donald Trump and Andrew Tate back. Since then, he’s tried to back out of the deal, got sued by Twitter and settled the suit by effectively saying “if I buy it, will you stop suing me?” (Not a real quote) He was going to lose and effectively buy the site anyway and probably pay some extra penalties as well.

On Oct. 26, the day before the deal was official, Musk went to Twitter HQ with a sink, filmed it and tweeted it. Now it’s been about three weeks since he took over Twitter and what’s happened since then? Well, not only did he not immediately reinstate all the banned accounts, which really set off Lavern Spicer, he said he was forming a “content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints” and that “no major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes.” He added that this group would include the civil rights community and groups that face “hate-fueled violence.” Also on day one, he tweeted a post captioned “Dear Twitter Advertisers” and included two screenshots of text, trying to reaffirm to them that the site won’t become a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences. This is what I predicted would happen, because he must appease the people who pay the bills, at least in the short term, while he figures out another revenue stream. 

One thing I didn’t predict is that his purchase of Twitter would cause much of a trainwreck this quickly. First off, a bunch of advertisers left, and Musk had a fit, claiming that they were “trying to destroy free speech in America,” and threatened to name and shame them if they didn’t stop. Yes, advertisers will definitely spend money if you threaten them. Good plan! He admits the site experienced a massive drop in revenue, which means he needs another way to make money. The solution? Well, Elon Musk, the richest man on Earth who hangs out on yachts for fun, decides blue checkmarks are too elitist and wants everyone who isn’t a celebrity, politician or important person of note to have a blue check next to their name. So, he tweaks Twitter Blue, a product that already existed. You can’t make this up. He originally said that it would cost $20 a month. Stephen King made a comment saying he would never pay $20, saying that the site should pay him. Elon responded with a suggestion to charge $8 instead of $20. I imagine Elon considers Stephen King a personal hero. After all, the guy wrote a book about a self-driving car that kills people and Elon Musk has made that a reality! 

So, $8 is where it ends up, and Musk’s rationale is that “it is the only way to defeat the bots & trolls.” Yes, trolls could never find a use for being able to have a verified checkmark next to their name, right? Many people started making a bunch of Elon Musk impersonation accounts, with many of the users already being verified. 

Rich Sommer, who plays Harry Crane on Mad Men, changed his name and profile picture to Musk’s and sent out a tweet mocking the Tesla CEO.

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Comedian Kathy Griffin and YouTuber Ethan Klein were both banned for changing their name

to Elon Musk and shitposting.

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Comedian Kathy Griffin and YouTuber Ethan Klein were both banned for changing their name

to Elon Musk and shitposting.

Then there were the people who did start buying blue checkmarks just to make posts. Here are some of my favorites: 

Here’s one for the Canadians:

@DougFord_ON on November 10, 2022:

Folks, apparently there's a lot of sick kids on Ontario right now. If you've got a sick kid, I want you to know that I do not want them anywhere near my cottage

And in perhaps the most damaging use of $8 ever, someone impersonating pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company tweeted this:

Tesla's Twitter impersonator tells TikTok followers he wanted to create an  account forSpaceX

When the real Eli Lilly and Company tweeted an apology, people started mocking them for not apologizing for the cost of insulin. If that wasn’t enough, their stock dropped rapidly. There’s lots of speculation as to how this could happen, but the fact is that right after the tweet, the stock had a $20/share drop. That’s a lot in one day. A few days later, the Twitter Blue program got suspended, and you didn’t need a Nostradamus to see this coming. This raises an interesting question: could Eli Lilly sue Twitter for allowing this to happen? Probably not, but it does lead to why verification exists in the first place. It’s a bizarre story that involves baseball manager Tony La Russa, who tried to sue Twitter back in 2009 because someone was impersonating him. La Russa claimed they settled, but Twitter denied this. As a measure to fight this impersonation problem, Twitter put a Verified feature in place for famous people. You were required to send someone a scan of your ID to get it. That is how verification should work. Just letting anyone buy a blue checkmark with no real verification was absolutely going to result in this.

An email from Elon leaked onto the site, where he mentioned that 50% of the revenue still needs to come from advertisers, even if Twitter Blue worked. He also told his staff that Twitter might not survive the upcoming economic downturn, he’s already teasing an impending bankruptcy. Here’s the problem: he doesn’t know how to run a business that’s funded by advertising and subscriptions. He only knows how to run businesses that are allegedly heavily funded by government grants and subsidies. Elon has declared that “comedy is legal” on Twitter, but this opens another potential problem that he needs to avoid. Straining relationships with Visa, Mastercard, his old friends at PayPal and other payment processors. This is because I guarantee that once the fake accounts are banned, the owners of them will issue chargebacks against Twitter. This isn’t the first time this happened, the payment processors almost stopped dealing with OnlyFans and one of the reasons was chargebacks, as they feared credit card companies would stop working with them. Visa doesn’t need Twitter, Twitter needs Visa. On Nov. 16, he sent an email to his remaining staff, telling them to pledge their lives to the company or resign. Guess what most of them did? The next day, TwitterHQ shut down because Elon was afraid of the service being sabotaged by the service and that the offices would reopen on the 21st, giving Elon a weekend to figure out if he has any staff left and who among that staff he can trust. This all sounds awfully familiar. I don’t want to say a certain someone’s name, but…isolating from everyone and not knowing who you can trust at the very end is very similar to how things wrapped up in 1945.

Elon once again proved me right on Nov. 18, when he tweeted, “New Twitter policy is freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach. Negative/hate tweets will be max deboosted & demonetized, so no ads or other revenue to Twitter.” He’ll effectively be shadow banning posts deemed “negative” or “hate,” they won’t appear in feeds, they are only accessible through a person’s Twitter page directly to see them, which many people don’t do. He did reinstate the accounts of Christian conservative satire site The Babylon Bee, Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson and I guess for “balance, ”Kathy Griffin. He gave a hard “no” to Alex Jones, so it seems the “free speech absolutist” has his absolutes. Former president Donald Trump got his account reinstated after a poll created by Elon that was about 52/48 in Trump’s favor. Trump has repeatedly stated he won’t be coming back to Twitter, so we’ll see how long that will last or whether a post will be “deboosted” under the site’s new rules. 

Strive for Progress, Not Perfection 

Commentary

Samantha Klein, Staff

Huffington Post

Absolutely anything is possible. There is not a single thing you cannot achieve. Wake up early, eat a healthy breakfast, make sure you attend all of your classes and get a workout in. Make sure you complete all of your assignments to the best of your ability, your room is clean, your bed is made and your laundry is done. Make sure you practice a multi-step skincare routine after you shower, achieve your step goal, meditate, journal, plan your papers in advance, study hard, attend every meeting. Make sure to make the extra effort to call home every day, keep in touch with old friendships, socialize with current ones and attempt to form new ones. Make sure you look good for the day, your hair is done, your outfit is comfortable, but simultaneously stylish. Make sure you smile often, stand up straight and above all, never let anyone see the one lonesome tear strolling down your face because you have simply had enough; but anything is possible, right?  

Perfection is a concept unfairly driven into the minds of children at a young age. We are taught that there is a standard that we must meet in order to be good enough, that there is this “realistic” expectation held. And as we see other people meet this expectation, it becomes a sort of protocol, routine. There is this assumption that we must be able to reach this now standardized goal or else we fall short and fail. Inadvertently, one forces themself to try that much harder to fulfill this expectation in fear of falling short, the fear of messing up forever imprinted into the minds of those who will not stop pushing themselves until they break. Yet the reality is, anything is not possible, for this vast category of “anything” includes the notion of perfection, and what is realistic is that there is no such thing.  

Perfect denotes zero mistakes, the absolute best one can be 100% of the time, however, to do this is to be merely inhuman. Robots are programmed to be perfect, not people, and oftentimes even robots make mistakes. Have you ever had a computer glitch, or something go wrong on your phone that was not caused by user error? Even what is intended and designed to be perfect cannot fully fulfill this definition, so why would you, a human, ever think it to be possible?  

The fact you cannot ever be entirely perfect does not mean you should not try your best to be the best YOU can be, but it does mean it is not worth it to run yourself into the ground trying. A balance between discipline and cutting yourself slack is imperative to a positive wellbeing. As much as you might need to study a little harder for an exam or work late one night on a paper, you also need to watch a movie or take a nap. As someone who struggles with finding this balance, feeling immense amounts of guilt when I do ease back on myself, denying myself the credit I deserve for the hard work I do, I understand the difficulty in being simultaneously motivated and relaxed. However, it is necessary to strive for progress, not perfection.  

Get up early, eat a healthy breakfast and go to your classes, but it is okay if you are not able to get a workout in. Do your work and make sure you do your skincare after you shower, but if that means you cannot do your laundry, so be it. You deserve to be in a neat space, so get that room cleaned up, but if you only have energy to make your bed, that is okay too. Maybe in order to call your parents you had to stay up late writing a paper; reward yourself with sleeping in the next morning.  

Even if all of this is not enough to lighten the load of what feels like the entire world on your shoulders, it is always okay to let that tear trickle down your face, for you are not that “perfect” robot, but a human. A human who is loved, important, valued, and above all, perfectly imperfect. As hard a pill as it is to swallow, know perfection is unattainable, therefore, you will forever be chasing a goal that cannot be reached, falling short every time. For this exact reason it is important to not strive for perfection, rather progress. And know too, at the very least, I will be beyond proud of you for this progress.  

“Andrew Tate” – For What?

Commentary

Emily Allgair, Editor

Over the weekend, more specifically within a 24-hour window, Andrew Tate was mentioned to me three times. Mentioned might not be the right word, maybe discussed – because I was expected to respond with my personal beliefs and attitudes towards this man. Now, some of you, my readers, may not have ever met me or seen me, but I hope that I still exude the energy that I don’t really support Mr. Tate throughout my articles. And yet, somehow, this name that I have maybe uttered twice in my life prior to this weekend became a hot topic. 

via Complex

I don’t really want to get into it within this article, but for sake of argument, just know I do not consider myself a supporter of Andrew Tate. What I would rather focus on within this article is to ask the question of why bring up polarizing topics if there is no real reason to do so? Let’s take a hypothetical polarizing election for example: it would make sense to debate the candidates with someone who has different views than you personally, as you could expand your knowledge on said candidates, issues and policies. But Andrew Tate… what does he have to do with anyone’s life other than those who listen to him and would take it to heart? 

In my eyes, the only thing that bringing up polarizing topics (that don’t have any weight in the lives of both conversing parties) would do is piss someone off. And for no reason! Each party is most likely uneducated in some aspect of Andrew Tate and complimentary topics; whether you don’t know his business standpoints (guilty) or you don’t recognize the underlying messages that his stance on women holds in a societal view, it’s not like you’re going to listen and learn about the stuff you don’t know.

So why bring it up? Other than the sole purpose of being polarizing? Personally, I think you’d bring it up to piss off your ‘opponent’ and be entertained by their reaction. Which it’s like, why would you do that? If that’s what you’re doing it for, then admit to it. Don’t try to play it off like you actually want to discuss the subject, because what good is that doing for anyone? You’re making your relationship rocky, even if it doesn’t seem like it’s that big of a disagreement. 
I guess what I’m trying to say is if you aren’t actually concerned with why someone thinks the way they do, don’t bring up Andrew Tate. Seems simple enough, right? And the same goes for any topic that is known to be polarizing. That’s my two cents, at least, and I hope this resonates with at least one person out there.

October is slowly transforming into November

Commentary

Samantha Klein, Staff

October is slowly transforming into November, the leaves changing color, the air growing colder. As midterms find themselves coming to end, there becomes this point in the semester where motivation finds itself at an all-time low, the earlier darkness of the night sky a reflection of how many students’ feel as the days progress.  There are some people who don’t suffer from this constant pressure or lack of drive, but it’s important we must not compare ourselves to those who appear the strongest, for everyone is dealing with something internally, behind closed doors.

      Everyone begins holding an empty glass. As our days continue and both trials and tribulations create temporary stop signs in its progression, our glasses start to slowly fill up with water. Eventually, through continuous daily and long-term adversity, the glass starts to grow in weight, no longer a mere empty glass. Some people might have glasses barely full, others halfway, some overflowing. Yet no matter the amount of water in your cup, it’s okay to set it down, even if someone with a glass fuller than yours is continuing to hold it up; for if your glass feels heavy, forcing your arm to go numb and feel stuck the more time goes by, it is illogical to continue holding it.

      Your glass is  your mental health. Just because you think someone might be going through more than you are- taking more challenging classes,  swamped with more commitments and assignments, doesn’t mean the weight of your own anxiety should be diminished. Everyone has their own breaking point, the point in which the weight on your shoulders feels too heavy and even the simplest tasks feel impossible. In these moments, it’s imperative to be kind to ourselves. For even if someone else’s glass is fuller, if yours is too heavy for you, you’re only hurting yourself by continuing to hold it.

      As the seasons continue to change and the semester continues to unfold, treat yourself with the same kindness you would to other people, for you too are human. When you overwork yourself, compare your struggles with those of others, or speak down to yourself, consider whether you would allow yourself to treat others in this same way. You deserve love and you deserve to be the one to give yourself this love. You deserve to take care of yourself in a way where you set your glass down, despite pride or the sentiments of others. There will come a time where you find ways to allow this glass to not fill as quickly or with as much water, but until then, I hope you choose to be kind- to your mind, your body, your spirit. Care for yourself this fall while still trying your best; relax, take a deep breath, and know this will always be enough. 

The scariest thing this Halloween 

Commentary
via City of Philadelphia

Kylie McGovern, Editor 

Ghosts, ghouls, vampires, and witches are not nearly as scary to me as some of the voting apathy I have experienced recently. Polyas.com defines voting apathy as “a lack of interest in participating in elections by certain groups of voters. One side-effect of voter apathy can be low voter turnout on election day if voting is non-compulsory. In countries or areas with compulsory elections, voter apathy may manifest itself in the form of a high proportion of spoilt ballots or donkey votes.” I have experienced this spirit (get it, cause it’s Halloween) of voting apathy with haunting phrases like “I am anti-vote” or when asked if registered to vote someone said, “like for president?” Seriously spooky. 

So, why vote? My simple and perhaps pessimistic answer is that voting is the last shred of democracy we have left. Look, America’s democratic system is far from perfect, the nine arguably most powerful individuals are APPOINTED for LIFE and maybe some senators have been serving since the ‘80s, but voting in all elections every year (yes, even the ones that happen in May and in years without a presidential election) local elections can actually massively impact your lives and neighborhoods. 

If using your address here at La Salle, national, state, and local offices are up for the vote this election. A PA senator seat is up for election. If you have been lucky or unlucky enough to see a scary political ad you’d know that John Fetterman (yes, the one who wears hoodies) and Mehmet Oz (that one TV doctor) are the main competitors although others are also running. In addition, PA governor is up for election. Josh Shapiro runs for the democrat party and Douglas V. Mastriano runs as the republican candidate. In addition, PA lieutenant governor is up for election. Although I do certainly think it is important to vote in these elections. I think it is immensely important to vote in local elections which are also on the ballot. If using your La Salle address, you have the opportunity to vote for the Philadelphia City Council: drafts, debates, and enacts legislation that exclusively impacts the city of Philadelphia. City council also plans city finances which essentially decides where your tax dollars go. This allocation of taxes can go to repave the roads or programs at public schools AKA things that can directly impact you. The council also “has the authority to decide who sits on various city boards and commissions. As a result, the City Council has significant influence in shaping city policies and programs” according to Committee of Seventy. Ultimately, these local elections have the opportunity to make tangible change in my opinion and to me your vote goes a lot farther in these local elections during “off years.” So, now that I hopefully have convinced you about the importance of voting, you can register to vote following this link, although it will be too late to register to vote on Nov. 8, I hope I’ve convinced you to vote in the next election in May 2023.  Please vote. The future can be scary, and I am not talking about in a The Sixth Sense way. The future is rather scary because  2021 was the warmest year ever recorded, there have been 35 school shootings in the US, and social media is derailing democracy with misinformation. I think that voting maybe won’t solve all of these issues, but it might elect some people who will take a crack at making a better tomorrow for you. See you at the polls on Nov. 8, 2022, from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Why Study History?

Commentary

David O’Brien, Editor-in-Chief

Over the course of my time in college, people have often asked me why I study history. Everyone has heard the age-old question, “why should we care about what happened to a bunch of people I do not care about over a hundred years ago?!” The simple answer is, you cannot understand the present without understanding the past. Whether it’s medicine, politics, economic theories, etc., the context surrounding these topics often plays a much larger role in them than we can even imagine. We cannot understand the United Nations without understanding the calamity of the early 20th century that led to its creation. We cannot understand psychology without understanding the numerous seemingly insane theories that have served as the foundation of the entire field. Studying history allows us to contextualize the world around us and helps provide us with at least somewhat of a rational understanding of the world we live in.

While one can respond to this by saying, “okay but we can just briefly go over the context of these topics and then spend the majority of class actually diving into them rather than focusing too much on their foundation and the context surrounding them,” and sure that is valid to an extent, as long as one only cares about a specific topic. As liberal arts educations continues to become progressively more specialized, studying topics like history allows students to explore a variety of different topics. Students who want to get a broader education can find what they may feel has been missing in their general education by taking history courses. For example, a class I took my sophomore year, “Early Middle Ages” discussed the rise of Catholic Church, the birth of Western Civilization as we know it, the rise of Islam as a world power in the middle ages, the emergence of modern science, and many more topics. The course allowed me to learn a great deal about a variety of topics that I never even thought about prior.

Additionally, people often argue that people should only study history if they want to become teachers. This is simply not true. Studies show that only 18% of history majors actually pursue a career in education (historians.org). The writing and analytic skills developed by history majors through their broad education allows them to be a part of numerous different professional fields ranging from business to law to the nonprofit sector. 

So for anyone who is convinced at all or at the very least interested in learning more about history, do not allow anyone to make you feel like it is a waste. Studying history allows us to foster a deeper understanding about the things we care about as well as learn about things we never knew we were interested in. Take a course in the history department next semester, explore new topics that you may not have ever thought about before, and most importantly do not worry about whether or not taking a history class is valuable or not, since understanding the past is bound to help you in the present. For students interested in taking a history course next semester, I cannot help but recommend taking a class with Lyman Stebbins and/or Barbara Allen. For the Spring 23’ semester, Dr. Stebbins will be offering a course on Iranian history and Dr. Allen will be offering a course on the Holocaust.

A reflection on entertainment media as a career path

Commentary

Jakob Eiseman, Editor-in-Chief

Header image: Mohamed Hassan via PxHere

I’m scared.

I’m scared because this is my last commentary article with the Collegian as an undergrad. I’m scared because in two weeks I’ll be a journalist out in the field with a B.A. in Mass Media and Communication and I still have no idea what I want to write about.

My whole life I have made entertainment media my hobby. I played soccer in the day and I’d come home and play “Smash Bros.” with my teammates, I’d go to school and wait all day to get home and watch a few hours of Cartoon Network, I’d play music and use what I learned about music theory to appreciate the score of a new movie that I saw and above all, no matter what I did from my childhood to now, I always knew that no matter how stressful my day-to-day life got, or how invested I got in my courses and different interests, that when I got home at the end of the day I was firing up a gaming console or putting a Blu-Ray in the tray, and that was my time away from the world.

The conversation that our entertainment is an escape from modern problems and that we take to these fictional worlds so we don’t have to deal with ours is well trod ground. But, I find myself in a particular place where I have a unique discussion to be a part of.

Learning journalism in high school, and exposing myself to the field of communication, production, word mills, internships and online publication in college, I can confidently say that I’m ready to enter into the field of journalism and write. During my time with the Collegian, I started writing as an Arts and Entertainment writer, doing movie and game reviews during my first year, incorporating my hobby with my writing skills. 

After that, I took over as editor of the Arts and Entertainment section for two years, writing thousands of words and dozens of pieces on entertainment media, the industries that produce them and the ways that entertainment is a part of our media and cultural landscapes. 

Then, when I took over as editor-in-chief, I continued to be immersed in the journalism landscape and learn how to manage, edit and work in a newsroom. Through my schooling, I learned how to more effectively cover topics like current events, politics, social justice, personal features, local news and more, and I branched far out from just writing movie reviews. 

I will be doing one year of graduate school here at La Salle University, so I have the time, but I have a decision to make: Do I enter the traditional news media market and enjoy more job security, a more defined pipeline and the ability to write about and describe important events that will help others become educated and informed, or do I go down the path of entertainment journalism, driving forward my passion for movies and games through reviews, industry breakdowns, interviews with internal members of the community and write for a crowd that also wants to be informed and keep up, but for their hobbies and love of escapism?

I’ve always considered the field of entertainment to be a hobby, but I am so deeply connected to it and I know its inner workings. I could make it a career. But, first of all, I feel this overwhelming stigma that entertainment is considered a less-than field by an ignorant majority, that by being in it, you are wasting your life, and you aren’t contributing to society. Second, if I was to ignore this feeling and accept that these people are wrong, I’m also concerned that by making entertainment a career, I would have to lose it as a hobby. At what point does watching a movie for work stop being fun and start being stressful? If I have to review a long video game before an embargo period, would I really enjoy it? These questions are a secondary barrier to my decision.

I still have this decision to make, but I also feel like 1. This stigma is not true and that there is a way for me to move past it and 2. There is a way for me to appreciate entertainment in my career without losing it as a hobby. To help me with this decision, I went and talked to some of my friends and mentors here at La Salle who have a lot sharper opinion at this time. After hearing from them, I hope I will be able to better inform my decision, and I hope anyone reading these interviews will take away what they need to hear if they are in a similar situation to myself.

Dr. Mark Lashley, communication professor, television critic and media researcher

I have taken three entertainment related courses with Dr. Mark Lashley during my time at La Salle: Media Criticism, Prestige TV and TV Comedy, the latter two of which I took as honors electives, showing how much thought, research, writing and analysis went into the courses. When I started having these thoughts about my own career, I couldn’t think of anyone better to come to at La Salle than Lashley.

“I got the sense pretty early that media, even purely entertainment media, have a lot to teach us about how society works, what we value and how we see ourselves,” said Lashley. This is how I have always identified with media, often being drawn to both the silly escapes from reality as well as the deep reflections of how we act as human beings.

“I often joke when I teach TV and film classes that I’m going to try to ruin the things we enjoy by over-analyzing the process and the messages in our favorite shows and movies, but the truth is that being a critical reader of media can really add to the enjoyment of it in a lot of ways. Knowing what a creator is trying to say, what methods they’re using to say it, and how we as the audience negotiate a meaning from that, helps us reckon with the power of messages and how stories are told,” he continued.

When I asked Lashley about my concerns regarding entertainment becoming work rather than a hobby in his own life, he said, “it is somewhat of a ‘job’ to keep up with the culture, but there are definitely way worse ways to spend one’s time.”

“I get that making entertainment isn’t typically a lifesaving, or even profit-generating, way of life. But the arts are important,” said Lashley, “we tend to argue a lot about different forms of entertainment, and negotiate their meanings, which I think is a testament to how much value we give these texts and how much meaning we find in them.” 

On the subject of entertainment criticism and journalism, where I may find myself, Lashely had this to say, “I think creating is valuable, but I think criticism is valuable, too. The problem here is that its value is diminishing in the journalism world, where outlets have reduced the amount of criticism they publish, and generally pay writers and freelances less than even a decade ago. That being said, having smart, informed people engaging in discourse can help audiences understand the themes and messages embedded in media, and can champion great, worthwhile art that might not otherwise reach the mainstream.”

“The world is always going to need entertainment,” concluded Lashley, and I couldn’t agree more. Being able to think, escape, wonder and get excited is such a necessary part of all of our lives and I cannot see a world where these things just up and left.

Audrey Walker, senior criminal justice student, future Pepperdine law student

A singer and member of the Masque of La Salle, Walker said that she has been intrigued by the music industry for years, but chose to study the legal system in college both for career fulfillment and for financial prospects. She recently committed to Pepperdine Caruso School of Law, and says that she will be pursuing entertainment law, working with musicians and other artists in the courtroom.

“I wasn’t originally planning on going into entertainment law, but when I realized I could marry my two interests in one career, I realized that it would be the most fulfilling area of practice for me,” said Walker.

“People have been participating in and going to watch performing arts since ancient times. I’ve always thought that there’s something intrinsically human about performances, and they contribute to a very universal, human society;” said Walker, “when the pandemic hit, concerts and other live shows were the first things to go, and I remember how distressed everyone seemed over that.”

I asked Walker how she felt those in entertainment adjacent fields can contribute to society. She said, “Because entertainment is an integral part of society as well as a reflection of society, people who work in entertainment in any way absolutely contribute to the progression of society. The entertainment industry doesn’t just respond to societal desires, it also creates and influences them.”

Jonathan Colella, senior communication major, La Salle TV host

Jon Colella is a friend of mine that I met and learned a lot from through the com department, us bonding over the fact that we are some of the few entertainment minded students in a department filled with sports journalists. He is an excellent creative writer, writing multiple scripts and plays for student organizations along with co-hosting La Salle TV’s entertainment media and industry show, “Backstage Pass.”

I asked Colella where he is in his career search, and he said, “Right now my philosophy is ‘Do whatever you can, when you can.’ Entertainment is hard, and I’m certainly not going to be picky going into it. I’ve played with the idea of making YouTube video reviews of video games, not necessarily for the purpose of becoming YouTube famous but really as a way to keep myself sharp and to attune my own craft for myself. I love reviewing entertainment media as I feel like I have a lot to say about most things because I’ve consumed so much, so I like trying to make fair reviews of products while attempting to be funny.”

On the subject of the stigma against media jobs, Colella had this to say “Not all art is entertainment media, but all entertainment media is art. In every single thing created for us there is something to take from it, intentional or not. There is always a message, always a story, always information. Even if there isn’t a message, that’s still a message. It’s just how these things work. I don’t consume media with the intention of distraction myself from a sh*tty life. I consume media with the intention of gaining something, anything, from it.”

“Entertainers are the heavy hitters of cultural identity and I feel like anybody who says entertainers are worthless are probably really boring… Everyone is important in a lot of weird ways you wouldn’t expect. So while entertainment doesn’t seem essential to humanity, it surely is,” he continued.

Colella said that during his time with “Backstage Pass,” he has heard many horror stories from the entertainment industry, but because he is so passionate about it, this does not discourage him. “Your career and passion is a very important decision to make, so it wouldn’t be fair to yourself to have someone else make that decision for you. If you want to pursue entertainment, even after you hear every terrible thing, and still decide you want to, then you should.”

Nolen Kelly, senior communication major, Collegian arts and entertainment editor

I can guarantee that if it wasn’t for our long, and often arduous, discussions and arguments over entertainment media, that Nolen Kelly and I never would have bonded the way we did, now working together on the newspaper and living together. Kelly has a deep knowledge of the film and television industry and all aspects that make up the properties that he watches. From mise-en-scene to lighting to shoot site, he knows it all, and that is why I chose him to become one of the editors for arts and entertainment when the time came.

“I’ve always lived my life trying to be good at the things that make me happy and chasing them and for me right now: that’s writing. I’ve always known I’ve wanted to write either creatively or journalistically and in my senior year here I managed to do both at the same time, so I could see myself doing either or both, hopefully, professionally,” said Kelly.

I asked Kelly what he thought about the modern media landscape and if he thought entertainment was more of a distraction or an important facet of life. “Entertainment can both push and halt the progression of society, in my opinion. You get your boundary pushers who do so well they move beyond entertainment and move into important or thoughtful commentary. There are also those who are only there for distraction purposes. I think both kind of need to exist together for popular culture and society to realize what they need to move on from or gravitate more towards.”

Reflecting on his time as a writer and editor for arts and entertainment in the Collegian, Kelly said, “If anything, being a part of the Collegian has cemented that all I ever want to do in life is to be in the entertainment industry. I could write original plays, movie reviews, community movie discussions, original scripts and/or fun rant pieces forever. The feeling of creating something with words and knowing someone out there is watching and enjoying what I made is enough motivation for me to make more.”

Reflection

What I have determined is that anyone that has any interest in pursuing entertainment in any way as a career, whether that be an actor, writer, production crew member, journalist, lawyer, advertiser or anything in between, should, because it is a really important industry that helps people around the world both escape as well as explore. Yes, escapism is important, and I would never say that someone is wasting their time by consuming media, but it is also a thought tool that can help people feel emotions, learn and become more in touch with the human experience over all. It is a beautiful thing that can be provided to us in a multitude of ways, and it truly is an important part of what makes us who we are.

I’m still uncertain about my future as an entertainment journalist, as I truly do love writing about news and politics and featuring important perspectives through written word that evokes understanding and emotion. And, as Lashley said, media criticism certainly does not seem like a well paid field. But, my superficial concerns regarding it now are alleviated, and I hope that going through this short reflection with me helped you feel more confident about your career choices, your media habits or your pairing of hobby and career in any field.

Let me know if you are or have been in a similar situation, and if you have any advice for a budding maybe-entertainment journalist, by emailing me at JDEiseman1@gmail.com.

Lost in translation — Unnecessary limitations on La Salle’s language courses

Commentary

Alina Snopkowski, Editor

There is a serious desire from students at La Salle to learn foreign languages. I had heard about it in passing through my time taking Russian classes, preparing for Foreign Language Awareness Week and otherwise advertising for language classes whenever I could — students would mention that “I would’ve liked to take German, but they didn’t offer it until after my freshman year and I didn’t see the point in starting it later,” or “I took French in high school and loved it but I could never fit it into my schedule,” or “I saw they used to offer Japanese but it doesn’t seem like they have it anymore,” and on and on and on. But how many students actually want to take foreign languages? How can we figure that out?

Support of interest

Throughout Foreign Language Awareness Week at the end of March, students were able to vote on languages that they would like to learn at La Salle. At events throughout the week, slips of paper were available where students could write their name, major, email and pick, in a perfect world free of scheduling conflicts and other circumstances, what language(s) they’d like to learn from a list of languages that have been offered at La Salle in the past (plus a space to list others). Here’s the results from that non-scientific, self-selection-biased, small-sample-sized poll:

All languages on the list have a number of interested students that meets or, in almost all cases (sorry, German), exceeds the 10-student minimum class size requirement.

When broken down by grade level, the highest interest is among current first-year students, which bodes well for the possibility of having students that continue to be able to take foreign language classes before they graduate. Many respondents to this poll indicated that they want to learn more than one language — an average of 1.73 for current juniors, 1.79 for freshmen, and 2.12 for sophomores.

Students who were at Foreign Language Week events were already more likely to be interested in languages, and therefore these results don’t represent the university as a whole. But, the poll results probably greatly underreport the desire for foreign language classes, because you had to physically be at one of these events to cast your vote, and students who were unable to attend or didn’t know about the events but still want to take language classes had no way of being counted. The point is, this poll as well as anecdotal evidence of “I really wanted to take French, but it was never offered when I had space in my schedule” and “I would’ve taken German if I could minor in it” and “I do Japanese on Duolingo and really want to take it here” show that there are many students who are interested in taking foreign language classes here.

So why aren’t they?

There is no university-wide foreign language requirement, although a couple of majors have their own versions. For example, the International Relations (IR) major includes a requirement for “four courses in Foreign Languages” and the program description section explains that “It requires four semesters of a language chosen by the student (including, for example, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Italian and others).” Note that it does not specify that it has to be the same language — that will come up again later. 

Economics and International Studies (ECI) requires “three courses in a single foreign language” with the goal that students in that major “will demonstrate reasonable proficiency in a foreign language.” The page devoted to the Department of Global Languages, Literatures and Perspectives shows that majors and minors are offered in Spanish, but for other languages (French, German, Italian, Japanese and Russian), courses are only available as electives.

Maybe students just aren’t interested in learning those other languages. Spanish is the most popular, and therefore there are plenty of students who will register for Spanish language and literature courses. But Russian? Italian? Japanese?

When I talked to the Dean of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Pamela Barnett, she said that, “I would love to see more students taking languages,” but explained that most languages are only offered every other year because of the university-wide policy that classes need 10 students signed up to run. This “scheduling rotation” was put in place because language courses would fill up in the first year but not at higher levels. Barnett said that the 10-student requirement was created because of the “learning that comes from diversity,” and explained that “I don’t want to cancel classes, but they also cannot run with only five people.” “Before the scheduling rotation,” she said, “often we would not have enough students even in the first year. And that meant even smaller numbers at higher levels. When we started to run every other year, the classes became larger and that’s when you get the learning from diversity.”

It’s a sort of chicken and egg problem, then — students aren’t signing up to take these classes, but these classes aren’t being offered. These classes might be offered if there was enough interest in them, but how can a student be interested in German 301 if they can’t even take German 101? These classes have to exist and develop for both the students’ and administration’s sakes.

Well, here’s one of the problems. There are too many entry-level classes offered in some languages, particularly Spanish, and too few beginner classes offered in others. According to Chair of the Global Languages Department, Dr. Vicki Ketz, most students who come into La Salle wanting to take Spanish classes already have some prior knowledge of Spanish from high school or earlier, and it wouldn’t make sense for them to start at the 101 level. The problem is, Spanish professors are told to offer multiple sections of Spanish 101 in the fall semester, even though, in reality, there’s a need for just one or maybe two sections at that level. 

What’s really needed are multiple sections of 102 and 201 in the fall, when new students are coming in, but those classes aren’t offered as often. The schedule is clogged up with classes that aren’t needed and there’s less space for ones that are. But how could the administration know how many classes are needed at certain levels?

We used to have a language placement test. It was optional and, if reinstated, it should probably stay optional, but my guess is that incoming freshmen would elect to take it, because they don’t want to start learning Spanish (or any other language) from scratch if they could instead just take a quick quiz so they’re put into a class that matches the level they’re at. Reinstating the language placement tests would provide the administration with the information they need to make informed decisions on how many sections of each class, and which levels, should be offered.

The placement test could also show that there’s demand for higher-level classes in languages besides Spanish — the very languages that are barely offered because of the impression that if we can’t scrounge up 10 students for French 101, how on earth would we be able to get that many for 102 and 201? Placement tests could show, for languages like French and German that are often offered in high schools, that there are actually more students who have some knowledge of that language than those who are starting from square one and need the 100-level courses. 

If an incoming freshman took several years of German in high school and wants to continue it at La Salle, but only sees German 101 offered, why would they take a class in basic topics they already know? But by not signing up for German 101 in the fall, that appears to show the administration that there’s a lack of interest in learning German altogether, and not the reality that there is an interest, just for higher levels. The chicken and egg are back. 

Repeat for French or Italian or any other language that’s commonly offered in high schools. We probably need to offer more upper-level language courses, not fewer, in languages like these, but the lack of quality placement tests and lack of students signing up for 100-level classes in languages they already have experience in sends the wrong message to those who make those decisions.

The issue is not that we do not have qualified, talented professors to teach these classes. The issue is not that we do not have interested, motivated students who want to take these classes. The issue is that students who want to take these language courses are unable to, that professors are forced to shut down classes when there’s not a certain number of students registered for them, that the administration does not know how many students come into La Salle with prior knowledge in a language and that certain classes are only offered at one time and, given the choice between taking a language class and fulfilling a major requirement, pretty much every student would pick the latter because there’s no way to fit both into their schedule.

This last issue has an obvious solution — coordinate scheduling between the language department and other departments that often see conflicts and also interest, particularly the departments that consistently see the most overlap (if I had to guess, I’d say political science). That way, a student won’t have to choose between Japanese 101 and Intro to Microeconomics. They can get more of what they want out of their education.

The scheduling conflict appears in other ways, too. For students in the Honors Program, a certain number of Honors electives are required for graduation and, especially in sophomore and junior years, fitting these electives into a schedule is prioritized over just about everything besides major-specific classes. Add in the required Honors Triple classes freshman year (History, Philosophy and English) and there are not many slots left to get started on a language.

If you want to learn a language you don’t have prior experience with, you really ought to get started as soon as you can. I was lucky my freshman year — Russian 101 was offered in the fall, and, with some adjusting around my Honors Triple and econ classes, I was able to take it. But, I also know that a lot of that was just good luck. If freshman year and sophomore year are full of major classes and Honors electives so that language classes don’t fit or aren’t offered that school year altogether, what can be done to fix that problem?

The lack of space in Honors students’ schedules applies to more than just language courses. The Department of Global Languages, Literatures and Perspectives offers much more than straight language courses. The department also teaches, for example, classes in literature from different parts of the world, centered around a theme such as a particular time period or social topic. Are these courses cross-listed, as a variety of courses from most other disciplines are, with Honors courses to make them better available to students in the Honors program? No.

Courses from the Department of Global Languages, Literatures and Perspectives have not, at least in the past four years, been offered as Honors electives. Allowing cross-listing between the Global Languages electives and Honors electives will bring more students into these electives as Honors students would be able to take classes that would be very difficult for them to find space for otherwise. In addition, by taking Honors electives through the Global Languages Department, Honors students might then find an interest they wouldn’t have tapped into otherwise, and come back to the department to take foreign language courses.

Here’s another suggestion: reduce the minimum student requirement for foreign language classes. Changing these requirements might seem like a Band-Aid solution — sure, the seven students who want to take French 101 this year can take it, but that doesn’t change the fact that some of them are going to graduate, and a couple more won’t be able to put it into their schedules next year, and if a class can’t run at the 100 level, then there’s almost no way it’ll work at the 200 level (barring the reinstatement of the placement test, which could show enough students who test into higher levels).

I’m not saying a class should exist if only two people want to take it, but the professors teaching these language classes should be able to give input on what the minimum number of students in a class should be for it to make sense to hold it. Language involves dialogue and it helps to learn a language with others — but how many others? Would four students in a class be enough for some language courses? Six? Should it really be 10? That should be up to the professors of these classes to decide, as they know the dynamics of teaching a foreign language to a group.

Allowing smaller language classes also helps fulfill the requirements for certain majors — for example, the course requirements for the IR major. By allowing smaller classes to run, those four required language classes could be all within the same language.

But, as it stands, IR just requires four courses of a language. But let’s say you come in undecided and make that your major sophomore year, or you pick it up as a second major sometime after your freshman year. You want to learn German to meet the IR language requirement, but the intro classes are only offered every other year, and it’ll be next year before it happens again. Now you’re stuck with a choice — take a language you’re not as interested in to try to get four semesters of the same language and have some sort of proficiency in it, or take two semesters of something else now and take two semesters of German next year. It still fulfills the IR requirements, but it doesn’t really mean you’ll have a high level of ability in those languages and therefore doesn’t fulfill the point of having the language requirement in an IR major.

Allowing smaller language classes to run could also increase the likelihood that more students want to take those classes in the future as word of mouth and free advertising follows — I told all my friends, foes and other companions they should be taking Russian if they could. Adding the ability to get a minor in these other languages could also increase enrollment in these less-offered languages. It’s true that the skills you gain from studying a language don’t depend on if your official transcript lists them as a minor  — if you can speak Italian, you can speak Italian, irrespective of if you officially have a “real” minor in Italian or not — but the fact that it’s impossible to minor in any language besides Spanish is pretty disheartening.

One of my friends said that, although they took a language in high school and considered continuing it here, they’d rather take six courses from a program that would show up on their transcript, not six courses in one that wouldn’t. Another friend explained that “I really wanted to take Italian, but didn’t because I couldn’t minor in it.” Adding minors in these other languages would show that La Salle is committed to helping students learn a foreign language.

This last point is particularly important, as a quick search of some other universities in the area (Temple, St. Joe’s, Drexel and UPenn) reveals that Temple offers majors and minors in German Language and Cultural Studies, Chinese, French, Italian and Spanish, and minors in Portuguese and Arabic. St. Joes has majors and minors in Italian and Spanish, a major in Francophone Studies, and minors in Chinese Language and Culture and German. Drexel provides minors in Arabic, French, Italian Studies, Japanese and Spanish. UPenn has majors and minors in Chinese and Japanese, majors in French and Francophone Studies, Russian and East European Studies, Italian Studies and German and a minor in Korean. By only offering a major and minor in Spanish, La Salle is not nearly as appealing to incoming students who want to study other languages.

Here’s another possible solution, one that would probably take a lot of logistical legwork to figure out and a lot of paperwork to implement, but would certainly have far-reaching and long-term benefits: a foreign language requirement for most, if not all, majors.

It would be difficult to find a field of study that would not benefit from knowledge of a foreign language. A case can be made for adding a foreign language requirement to just about any major offered at La Salle, some easier to justify than others — international business, for some reason, does not have a foreign language requirement despite having ‘international’ in the name itself — and it’s pretty easy to emphasize the increased job and research prospects that would come along with speaking another language if your major is something else business-related, or political science, or history. But why should a biology major learn another language? If you’re studying math, what’s the point of taking language classes?

An alumnus of La Salle’s Global Language Department explained it like this:

“In the sciences, there was a period when mathematics and chemistry majors had to take a second language, as did biology majors who were not medical school bound. Why? To advance in their careers, mathematicians and scientists needed to be able to keep abreast of the most recent research, which included that done outside of the U.S., much of which was not translated into English. The same logic also applied to other fields as well. Those seeking advanced degrees in economics, political science and sociology who wanted to go to a top-tier graduate program needed proficiency in a second language to complete their M.A. and/or Ph.D. requirements.”

“We need to re-look our position on foreign languages,” they continued, “not simply because they open otherwise closed doors to careers, but more because not allowing students to take the courses in the languages they choose hurts the students’ prospects for succeeding in graduate schools as well. Most reputable graduate programs require their M.A. and Ph.D. candidates to pass a proficiency exam in a language other than English.”

Another alumna, Bianca Abbate, ’21, echoed these statements. “The importance of foreign language education cannot be understated,” she explained, “knowing foreign languages is not an accessory. It’s a practical and marketable skill that opens doors for people. La Salle does a disservice to its students when it fails to recognize that.”

I don’t think the provost, dean, admissions department, registrar, Honors Program or any other department or office at this university is malicious or actively working against students as they try to learn a foreign language. I doubt some of them even know all the different layers to these situations. But I do think that the changes that should be made need to be initiated by these groups. There are a lot of issues, complications and poorly-handled situations at play here, but there are a lot of solutions to them, too. 

La Salle University: you want your students to be outward-looking, global citizens, who work with and for others to fight injustice and improve the world. Foreign language skills are an invaluable aid in pursuing these goals — make the study of foreign languages possible.

Where the war in Ukraine might be going and how the war could impact Philadelphia

Commentary

Mark Thomas, Professor of political science

Header Image: phillyhistory.org

As the war in Ukraine enters its fourth week, the lingering questions are whether the Russia-Ukraine War could expand into a war between NATO and Russia; and, if it did expand, could a NATO-Russia war escalate into a nuclear war. But more poignant and salient is how could a nuclear exchange between Russia, the U.S. and its NATO allies impact Philadelphia and the surrounding area. 

To the first point of whether the Russia-Ukraine war could expand into a NATO-Russia war, Dr. Mitchell Orenstein, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has contended such a war is unlikely. Such thinking is either delusional or wishful thinking. There are three possible outcomes for the current war in Ukraine: 1) The war becomes a quagmire for Russian forces and remains confined to Ukraine; 2) Russian forces turn the tide of war and gain control of Ukraine or 3) Russian forces withdraw either completely, or, more likely partially, enough to create a land bridge between the Donbas to the Crimean Peninsula. Of the three possible scenarios, only the third, e.g. a Russian withdrawal, excludes the possibility of a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia. Scenario one likely will entail Russian bombardment of NATO and NATO member-state logistics-supply routes from the west to the east. In the second scenario, buoyed by its success in Ukraine, Russia invades southern Lithuania based on its geo-strategic need to (re)establish a land-bridge between Russia and Kaliningrad, the headquarters of Russia’s Baltic Fleet and of the Russian Army’s Kaliningrad Military District. Scenario three, which may not occur immediately but is surely a matter of when, not a matter of if, could also include incursions into Latvia and Lithuania so Russian can regain control of the Baltic Sea, where it has one of three warm-water ports, the other two at Sevastopol (Crimea) on the Black Sea, and Vladivostok on Russia’s Pacific coast.   

In either the first or second scenario, NATO has two options: Respond with sanctions, essentially appeasing Russia for its new aggression or resort to the tried-and-true logic of nuclear deterrence and Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Given NATO’s Article 5 commitments and the risk of losing its credibility of defending democracy as well as national sovereignty if it does not respond militarily; and given Putin’s mindset; and basic tactical tenets of Russian military doctrine, NATO must respond and the prospect of nuclear war becomes more likely than even in the most tense days of the Cold War, minus the strategic miscalculations which almost led to nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) and Able Archer (1983). 

So, what is the likelihood Philadelphia will suffer during a nuclear war? First, we must distinguish between the two types of nuclear attacks: a counter-force strike and a counter-value strike. A counter-force strike is one in which the attacker seeks to destroy the opponent’s ability to wage war, both conventional and nuclear. A counter-value strike is one in which the attacker targets the civilian population in an attempt to eliminate the popular will to wage war.  Given many counter-strike targets are often collocated to highly populated areas, the difference between a counter-strike and counter-value attacks blurs considerably. 

In any case, for better or worse, Philadelphia is likely not high on the Russian nuclear target list.  Why for the worse? To be ranked high on the target list, a location has to have either a significant military presence, or a technological or industrial base which contributes substantially to the national defense. Due to poor decisions by federal, state and local officials over the past several years, Philadelphia has neither. That is the good news insofar as Philadelphia will likely not be hit by a nuclear warhead in a counter-force strike.

The fact that Philadelphia is not a counter-force strike target belies the fact that destruction of property is the least of the types of damage which nuclear weapons cause. Given its central location between New York and Washington, its close proximity to significant military bases and logistics hubs in outlying areas of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and its general proximity to one of three of the U.S. government’s major underground continuity of operations sites, all of which are viable counter-strike targets, depending on whether or not the Russians want to allow the U.S. leadership to survive after the first strike so they can stop the war, Philadelphia will mostly likely suffer from the two most deadly and most long-lasting sources of death and mayhem following a nuclear strike. The most well-known of the two is radiation poisoning, which will decimate plant and animal life across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey depending on the wind direction and whether the nuclear fallout reaches the jet stream. 

The third type of damage is the technology-killing effect of the high energy electro-magnetic pulses (EMP) which a nuclear blast emits. Such an after-effect only requires a single well-placed strike or a high enough altitude blast. With one such blast, either close to any city within a 500-mile radius of Philadelphia will disable any appliance or device which does not rely on vacuum-tube technologies, or which is hardened against EMP, making them into high-cost paper-weights. In layperson’s language, the EMPs will knock out all devices upon which U.S. society and economy depends to do its day-to-day functioning: computers, cell phones and I.T. networks will fail, with the catastrophic ripple effects across any sector of the U.S. critical infrastructure which relies on digital technology. Briefly, there is not a single sector of society which does not rely on digital technologies. The EMP will essentially disable the emergency service sector, the communications sector, the financial sector, the commercial facilities sector, the transportation sector and the agriculture and farming sector. A single, low-radiation nuclear blast would essentially catapult Philadelphia from the 21st Century to the 17th Century. 

Is such a scenario avoidable? Yes, as long politicians remember the Cold War tenets of MAD, despite a successful pre-emptive counter-force strike, the other side still retains sufficient capability to destroy countervalue targets in retaliation. The crazy logic behind MAD is what many believed deterred Russia and the U.S. from launching nuclear weapons during the tensest days of the Cold War.  It is also the fear of NATO escalating the war and respecting its Article 5 commitments which could end the conflict now.  First, it would give Russian leaders a moment of pause to consider the consequences of Putin’s aggression.  Second, a critical tenet of Russian military doctrine is protecting the Russian homeland from destruction, a tenet to which the Russian military leaders and intelligence leaders have closely abided since 1953. The last Russian leader who placed the Russian homeland at risk was Nikita Khrushchev, whom the Russian generals and intelligence chiefs, in collaboration with Communist Party leaders, e.g. Brezhnev, quietly removed from power. I think Putin is catching a cold. Perhaps a bad case of COVID-19 is in his near future.

On Barbershops

Commentary

David O’Brien, Editor

Header image: Today I Found Out

I entered the barbershop at 11:00 a.m. There was one customer and three barbers. After entering I approached the nearest barber and requested a haircut. She responded by prompting me, “Do you have an appointment?” I, of course, did not because it was 11:00 a.m. on a Tuesday and clearly not prime time for people to need a haircut. “No,” I responded, “but I can come back another time if you guys are busy.” The barber responded, “Ugh, I guess I have time for you.” Instead of receiving a smile and a thank you for being a valued customer, I was given a grunt and an eye roll.

There is no reason for barbers to require appointments, especially when no one is there. I understand the idea of reserving your appointment, or calling in advance to inform them you are on the way. I understand calling in advance to make sure they have the capabilities of fulfilling someone’s desire for a haircut. However, I do not understand this idea that everyone should have an appointment when they get an incredibly simplistic haircut. I get my hair buzzed on the sides and trimmed on the top and go to the barber in the morning. There is no need for me to call in advance. 

It’s not like going to a doctor’s or lawyer’s office where the reasoning behind going is personal and individualistic, thus you need to provide information in advance so the doctor knows what to expect. A barber is just cutting hair, it should be first come first serve with appointments optional. They shouldn’t be required anywhere. I shouldn’t be ridiculed for entering a barbershop without an appointment. I shouldn’t have to call in advance to book a time for me to have to make awful small-talk with someone I see once a month. Barbershops should have an appointment situation based on the restaurant-structure rather than the doctor-structure. You should make reservations, you should call in advance in case it’s busy, you shouldn’t need an appointment to get some stuff cut off the top of your head.