It is both a sponge and an atomizer for stupidity, a clearinghouse of our garbage that has somehow managed to manufacture both its supply and its demand. Reading it is like sitting in on a marathon session of everyone else’s inside jokes, only you know from the start that at least half of them didn’t even make sense originally. In a better universe, it could be a valuable running ticker of our fascinating insights, but in our world it’s turned into a public Honesty Box, a window into the embarrassing collective psyche of our student body. It is a disease, a scourge, a skidmark on the intellectual underpants of our university for which there could be no bleach. It’s boring, formulaic and unfortunately, the most beloved institution in all of Student Publications.
It is the Fourum.
I try never to channel Andy Rooney, but isn’t anyone else tired of it? This is one sacred cow ready for the slaughter. It hasn’t made a single interesting, relevant contribution to anyone; I’ve learned more from comments on YouTube.com. Yet for some reason, we still love it. We can’t get enough of it. Threads like the Fourum line the margins of every college newspaper in the country. A lot of people I talk to claim to read only the Fourum in the newspaper and nothing else. How is this perversion of values possible?
During that loathsome “Chuck Norris” phase it went through a couple semesters ago, I remember hearing about how it had really “lost its magic,” as if the preceding material had been truly worthy of H.L. Mencken. In fact, I distinctly remember at least one person blathering about how the Fourum needed to “get back to basics.” What are these “basics,” how exactly does one become a Fourum purist, and what kind of sin do I have to commit to be reincarnated as one?
But to be honest, it actually has gotten worse; it used to consist primarily of humorless absurdities, but these days, it derives most of its utility as a device for facilitating hookups. Decry it as social engineering or eugenics if you wish, but I say anybody who tries to use the Fourum as a sexual bulletin board should just get a swift kick in the balls. And it is the very worst and most cowardly way to submit complaints of any kind.
And finally, lest I be accused of just being uptight or curmudgeonly, the most sinister part about the Fourum is clearly that it’s moderated. What good is a public forum for offbeat dialogue if it’s been castrated? Isn’t the lack of moderation precisely what made JuicyCampus.com so juicy? It was vigilante justice for discontents of all stripes, and now it’s gone, because it turns out that we couldn’t bear to hear what we actually had to say. The Fourum’s policy is to be edited to “eliminate vulgar, racist, obscene and libelous comments,” meaning we do not actually see all that people have to say.
If we could enjoy the Fourum uncensored, or people actually had heads on their shoulders, the story might deserve a different ending. But in the meanwhile, we ought to put it out of its misery, if for no other reason than to save our souls.
Adam Pham is a senior in economics. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.