As an editor of The Stony Brook Press, I understand more than anyone else that life is full of chaos. When I unlock the door each morning, there’s a lot for me to wonder about. Will there be enough empty burrito boxes on my desk to build a small house? Will the staff actually meet deadlines this week? Will someone have eaten the iMac? Will the rift between The Press and the Nightmare Zone have opened, releasing a stream of demonic journalists into the Archives? It all could happen, and part of being an editor means understanding how to handle these situations.
But these days, I feel like the entire world has become a mess of chaos not unlike the constant state of our office. Have you read a newspaper lately? I mean, if you haven’t, go ahead and read this issue. I’ll be waiting here for you when you get back.
So what did you think of the issue? Do you see what I mean? Superstorms devastating our cities, bone cancer, floods, spies screwing their biographers, a new Twilight movie, mass extinctions…It’s all downhill from here. And outside of The Press, the conflict in the Middle East gets worse every day. Even here at home, someone got stabbed on campus. And Spielberg just told me that Lincoln got assassinated.
When I set out to write this editorial, I thought about approaching any one of these issues, since there’s a lot that can be said about any of them. Plus, considering the ever-increasing length of this introduction, I would definitely be able to fill this entire page with our publication’s stances on the Middle East.
But it’s never that easy. As we move through this churning downward spiral of chaos, things will change every day. Maybe today, vampire bats are going extinct in the Caribbean, but by tomorrow, for all I know they’ll all be alive again. It could happen. I’ve seen those Twilight movies; Victoria didn’t stay dead either. And more importantly, I’ve seen enough Middle East conflicts to know that story won’t stay the same for very long either.
Look at it this way. Based on when you’re reading this, it’s either almost Thanksgiving, or a week after Thanksgiving, or perhaps the year 2056, if my work is as enduring as I always suspected it was. But no matter what, I’ve written this editorial long ago, and whatever I say may no longer be relevant.
But rest assured that in this sea of endless chaos, there is one problem that I can assure will remain constant, and that’s the one expressed in this installment of our smash-hit readerless comic series, The Boring Rocks: holiday shopping. Yes, buying gifts for people is literally the worst thing ever, and I am confident that will not change by the time we get our next issue on the stands. See, being an adult means I can’t just sit around and wait for Santa to deliver Hanukkah presents to my friends for me. Instead, I have to get out and find things for myself, and I can say from experience that shopping is already as bad as I expected.
Just last weekend (or longer ago, depending on when we are), I went to Barnes and Noble to get a birthday gift for a friend of mine. It might have been fairly early in the morning, but the store was already flooded with customers, grabbing every paperback they could find and charging towards the checkout line. This wouldn’t be an issue, but since it’s not cost-effective to hire seasonal help yet, there were only two people on register, rendering the line essentially stationary. It’s a good thing that I like my friend, because if I didn’t, he would’ve gotten no more than a firm handshake for his birthday.
And things are just going to get worse from here. Brace yourself for icy roads, and people still driving to the other side of the island for the best deal on flatscreen televisions. Brace yourself for incessant holiday music that will only make your forty-minute line-waiting experience worse. Worst, of course, brace yourself for the brawls outside of Best Buy on Black Friday (unless you’re reading this in December and those have already destroyed society). The one constant in life is that this bad situation is only going to get worse.
Sometimes I wonder if we should give up putting up with this holiday shopping nonsense altogether. Just give your friends whatever you can find, and don’t let it stress you out anymore. I know I’ve got some perfectly serviceable albums I never listen to anymore that would make adequate gifts for friends everywhere. Isn’t it time we put aside our capitalist urges and shared during the holiday season? Don’t get me wrong: this isn’t about fiscal responsibility or the benefits of communism. This is simply about escaping needless stress during the months of November and December. That’s something even libertarians can get behind, right?
But more importantly, of course, is that I think we journalists need to stop assuming this story is tired and old, and give it the journalistic attention it deserves. Oh, believe me, there’s nothing to say about holiday shopping that hasn’t been said millions of times before. But in this maelstrom of chaotic news events, sometimes it’s nice to editorialize on the same old problems. We could all use a little stability now and then, even if it’s anchored solely by our hatred for regular inconveniences. So please excuse me, but I have a lot of thoughts on airline food to go write down.