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How School and Work Norms Can Impact Us

By: Nyasa Heyliger

At this age, we have almost certainly all experienced poor or nonexistent relationships with our peers, whether at work or in college, especially given Hunter’s status as an "anti-social commuter school." In my college experience, I have made "friends" within my classes, and once those classes finished at the end of the semester, we never spoke again, even if we ran into each other in the hallways, library, etc. From speaking to other college students, they have shared the same experiences with the class peers they have befriended. That brings me to my question: why do these friendships seem to end once the course has concluded? Well, there are many surface reasons, such as not seeing each other, being busy with other classes, or life in general. The most important thing is that you no longer need to communicate because you have completed the course and no longer require each other. While it sounds harsh, this concept not only exists in Hunter College, but all around us. At your job, have you ever had a co-worker who only talked to you when they needed help? Or a neighbor who only spoke to you to ask for a favor? This ideal of only interacting with others when it benefits us has been seen throughout early humanity, where groups would live and hunt together not to make friendships but to prolong their own survival. In academia or at work, our co-workers and classmates are simply trying to promote themselves while using others to advance to the next point. This idea of survival is the basis for most of our social interactions with each other.

However, since we are all people striving for social interaction, as Erikson points out, we need others to form healthy bonds with. The situational acquaintances we make in school and work are not healthy because it teaches us to dispose of them once we’re done with them and continue on as if they no longer exist. That is, of course, until they are needed again. While it can be tiring to continue a friendship with a classmate you no longer have classes with, you likely still have their contact information, whether it be an email, phone number, or social media. A simple greeting such as wishing them a happy birthday or discussing your new classes and where you are mentally and physically in the new semester can work wonders for you and your old friend. We never know what others are truly going through, so having someone check up on them or simply chatting with them can turn their entire day around. While many Hunter students complain about the antisocial nature of the college, not many are trying to change it. We can start by treating others as people rather than as tools and discarding them once they’ve served their purpose.

In short, we need human interaction; we need each other, whether it’s for help with a class assignment, someone to watch a movie with, or hang out with at the mall; we all need someone to lean on.

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