Apologies for the cheesy photo.
While I hesitate to use middbeat as a means of shameless self-promotion, I’m gonna use my one get out of jail card free today:
Hello, my name is Leah Fessler and I am a senior English and creative writing major at Midd. I also help run middbeat, which is very fun. For my senior thesis, I am writing a long form journalistic article on romantic culture at Middlebury and the effect of technology on communication in romantic relationships, and I’d really like to talk to you about it, whether you are a student at Middlebury now or an alumni of any year. The article will be completely non-fiction, meaning it’s real stuff, meaning I need to interview many Midd students to compile significant reflections on the topic. I’ve sent out a couple mass emails to students I know, but wanted to copy and paste the email text below in hopes of reaching a greater range of the Middlebury community. Importantly, this article will be published on middbeat as well (in a modified version, retaining complete anonymity for those interviewed), later this spring. I would appreciate it beyond belief if you took the time to read the text below, and considered signing up for an interview slot here!
Hello friends and interesting people,
While I’ve talked to some of you about the thesis work I’m tackling this semester, this message will likely find many of you pretty out of the blue. Here’s the basic gist: My thesis depends on talking to a lot of Midd students about their experiences with and thoughts on romantic culture at Middlebury and in college at large, and how technology effects romantic relationships and communication in the “modern age.”
When I say “romantic culture” I mean hookup culture, dating, not dating, flirting, being “together,” having “the talk,” getting rejected, rejecting, being loved, being liked a lot, being liked a lot a lot, being used, using others, having good sex, having great sex, having shitty sex, breaking up, long-distance crushes, best friend crushes, texting, snap-chatting, message read receipts, Tinder, Hinge, one-night-stands, respect, lack of respect, etc. etc. You get the point: Everything. These talks will be 100% research, should be considered human-based research, and can remain 100% anonymous if desired.
It might sound uncomfortable and awkward, especially if we aren’t close friends. But if you’ll hear me out, and trust my promise of confidentiality, I’d really (really) appreciate it. Not only because I’m extremely fascinated to hear your thoughts, but also because my thesis, frankly, won’t exist without them. Also because it’ll be fun, and many of us spend a lot of time talking about this stuff anyways, so it really won’t be too abnormal.
So, what’s the thesis “gonna be”? I’m an English major with a creative writing focus and I want to write stuff for a job. My thesis will be a ~40-page long form journalistic article (i.e. non-fiction creative writing) on a comparison of romance culture at Middlebury now, communication within such culture, and the effect of technology on such culture, and romance culture at Middlebury 20+ years past. I’m working with the editor of Middlebury Magazine, and we hope to get a version of this article published externally. While we cannot claim Middlebury is representative (at all) of the greater public, I also hope to reflect on how our Middlebury-based experiences might shed light on larger trends in romance culture and the effect of technology on romantic and sexually based communication and relationships among college students and young professionals of our generation at large. The article will hopefully reflect upon many of our actual experiences, include actual interview excerpts, and trace the stories and experiences of a few individuals in extended detail (all anonymous, of course).
We’re 18-23ish year old humans. We have sex drives, we crave connection, and we seek to fulfill those drives. Sometimes it’s really great. Sometimes it’s really, really shitty. And most of the time it’s somewhere in the middle. However, I would venture to guess romantic/sexual culture effects all of us all the time, and at Midd it often just ain’t easy. Of course, romantic culture can change (if need be), can improve, can mature, but that requires conversation, exposure, and honesty. In short, that’s what I’m trying to do: start the conversation.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you. Long emails suck but I wanted to get across the point first, because here’s my request:
No matter what your romantic experience at Midd has been, if it’s been a lot, a little, none at all, good, bad, decent, your thoughts are valuable, and I would really like to hear them (seriously, if you think you have nothing to talk about you probably have a lot to talk about). It’s crucial to collect a breath of experience, from guys, girls, different social scenes, etc.
Over the next few weeks, I will be available almost any time of the day to meet for these “interviews,” which are really just talks. We can grab coffee, or just sit somewhere private and chat. If your an alumni or off campus, we can chat on the phone or Skype! It’ll be very low key, I promise not to be awkward, and again, they’ll be totally anonymous. Below is a link to a Google doc sign up sheet. I’ve put in hour-long slots, but conversations can be anywhere from 10 minutes to hours, I just wanted to avoid scheduling conflicts. If you would please take the time to consider helping me out with this project, I can’t express how much it would mean to me, and how much good it could do for our community. To sustain privacy, if there’s a time slot that works for you, shoot me an email or text indicating that time and I will write “FULL” in the slot, so others can see it’s unavailable. I promise it won’t be stressful and could be quite a good time. As I’d really like to get the ball rolling, if you can meet as soon as possible, that would be very much appreciated.
SIGN UP DOC: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1k3r8zz3t-C6xwoOuoEVHgqzsP2syhKYjcPEkobW2vLE/edit?usp=sharing
Seriously, thank you so much for your time and attention. I apologize for ranting. I really hope to hear from you, andplease forward this message on to absolutely anyone you who goes/went to Midd. Especially non-seniors! Please don’t be shy. We don’t have to talk specifics if you don’t want, and can keep it at general reflections or whatever is most comfortable! You’re the best.