UNSUNG ANN ARBOR (AP) A recent study by the Department of Leisure Time revealed not much to be going on.
The DOLT study, which was conducted over the course of two years on more than 150 college campuses across the country, asked thousands of young adults the question: “So, what”s up?” The results were startling: Nearly 95 percent of the young people who were polled responded by saying, “Not much, man.”
Dr. Maxwell Fischer, a sociology professor at Dartmouth College and president of DOLT, claims that the results of the study were wholly unexpected.
“The results of the study were wholly unexpected,” Fischer said. “We were anticipating a certain amount of “Not much, man,” but the sheer ubiquity of the response was overwhelming.”
Fischer said that the widespread “Not much, man” reply was often preceded by a shrug of the shoulders and, in some cases, a soft yet disgruntled exhalation of air that Fischer described as sounding not unlike “psshht.”
“We believe these signs indicate that, even in this age of unbridled opportunities, today”s youth feel that very little in their lives is worth mentioning in passing,” Fischer said.
When asked the cause of this indifference, Fischer replied, “Psshht, I don”t know.”
The surprising results of the study which has already been nicknamed the “Reality Bites Project” were compiled last month after the 24-month field investigation came to a close. The experiment was considered by many academics and some scholars to be one of the most comprehensive inquiries into the mind of the American youth since the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Tests of the late “60s.
To account for cultural differences among the young people being polled, researchers supplemented the question of, “So, what”s up” with other queries, including “What”s new?”, “Que pasa?” and “What it is, jive turkey?” Yet each question was invariably met with the same lethargic reply.
John Maplethorpe, a psychology professor at San Diego State University and DOLT”s lead researcher, is puzzled by the universal response of “Not much, man.”
“Many of these individuals lead busy, eventful lives,” Maplethorpe said. “They”re studying any number of interesting academic pursuits, they”re working, they”re dating and yet when put on the spot, they shrug off any mention of their current endeavors. It”s positively queer.
“And yet,” Maplethorpe continued, “it”s not at all representative of the actual queer population, as most gay men instantly responded to the question of “So, what”s up?” with, “Oh, a little some of this, a little some of that girlfriend, please, you know me!””
Interestingly, past DOLT studies have returned similarly collective results. A 1998 Internet survey that asked America Online users between the ages of 18 and 24 the question “What kind of music do you listen to?” produced the near-unanimous answer of, “I like pretty much everything except country.”
Last year, a DOLT research team conducted weekly phone interviews with more than 50,000 college students in order to determine what movie they wanted to see that particular weekend. Week in and week out, the great majority of subjects replied by saying, “God, there”s just nothing out right now.”
According to Fischer, a current study regarding the banking practices of young adults is turning up intriguing findings of its own.
“When asked whether they preferred a savings or checking account,” Fischer said, “more than 99 percent of the college students in question responded, “Yo, len”me fi” dollah.””
While sociologists attempt to derive a greater implicit meaning from the results of these latest studies, college students like Indiana University junior Margaret Yang have reacted enthusiastically to the release of the findings.
“Oh yeah, I heard it”s really good,” Yang said. “I mean, I haven”t read it yet, but I heard it”s really good.”
Chris Kula”s column runs every Thursday. Give him feedback at www.michigandaily.com/forum or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.