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It Really Is That Deep

Jessica Vieira | Opinion Editor

The rise of anti-intellectualism is concerning to say the absolute least. What is anti-intellectualism? It is the mistrust and hostility of intellectuals and academia. It sounds like a conspiracy theory when it's put like that, but it’s very prevalent in the world. It’s everywhere. The way that analysis of popular media like movies, books, and even celebrity culture or trends has become something to make fun of is disturbing.

This mindset can be seen in big ways and little ones. An example of anti-intellectualism with little consequences is people commenting things on video essays like “it’s not that deep.” Another popular one is making fun of teachers that make small details in books they’re talking about mean something bigger. That’s their job! They’re supposed to make you think about the deeper meanings of books or media, like how the curtains being blue mean that the character is sad. Yes, sometimes these examples are stretched to their absolute limit, but that’s the fun of it. Anything can mean anything, and how fun is it to discover little easter eggs that authors put in their work? Authors and people that make media that is to be consumed by the general public in and out of academic spaces think about their creations. They aren’t just typing on a screen, and that is so important to recognize. To not acknowledge this hard work is disrespectful.

This is not to say that examples of this that have little consequence are not important, because small things pile up to make big problems. Some bigger anti-intellectual ideas are that right-wing groups and politicians are cracking down on banning books from public libraries and school curriculums. The criteria to ban a book is anything they deem inappropriate for children. This ranges from books that contain themes of magic, to books that have discussions or themes of anti-racism or contain representation of the LGBTQ+ community or otherwise diverse representation. There’s a political side to this as well. There are right wing ideals in place that would stop people from reading entirely to prevent the spread of anti-racism, or general diversity and acceptance. If someone is not educated in a diverse way, or exposed to diversity, they are more likely to be susceptible to white supremacy, which can be an umbrella term for racism, homophobia, classism, sexism, ableism, and any form of hate that would help rich, white, cishet men keep their power.

Reading is so important. Not only does it expose you to new ideas, but it helps with memory, attention span, and communication. So much of your mental, social, and physical health is tied to your brain’s health, and what better way to exercise that muscle than to learn something new, or stimulate your creativity?

When I tell people that I’m an English major, and that I like to read, the number of times that I’ve heard “oh, I don’t read” is astronomical. I’d say it’s ridiculous, but it’s what we as students today are taught. The school systems in place today along with SATs and testing unintentionally help to encourage this anti-intellectual ideology because students are, instead of learning things, being asked to memorize things, and replicate exactly what they learned in class. We are less taught to put what we have learned into practice, and rather taught to just memorize it. This is why classes that focus on the analysis of text, whether that be History, English, or Literature, are chosen less as areas of study than business or the sciences.

To analyze text or a form of media is to understand it on a deeper level, and gain a new appreciation for it, and has been done for centuries. Everyone should read more, at whatever pace, level, or quantity that they are comfortable with. It’s not a competition, just read!

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