What's the first website you check every morning? For many people, my guess would be Facebook, followed by a little New York Times (and of course some HuffPost, duh). But what to do later in the day, when not looking at your own profile or vainly amassing topical knowledge to seem smart? Obviously look at the next best thing besides yourself -- your group.
Sites for collegians are popping up all over the place -- BroBible, HerCampus, Honest College, CollegeACB, My Life is Bro, Bros Like This Site ... the list goes on. Don't we get enough college in college? I guess we just stick to what we know, and if our life hasn't been exciting while cramming for a test, there's always some bro out there "crushing Nattys" that we can read about in an instant and live vicariously through.
Founder of Honest College, Greg Narayan, says that sites like his and others aimed at the college market "provide a way of sharing your own knowledge and getting almost immediate feedback." Narayan notes that these sites are "part advice, part entertainment, and all raw insight from people just like you who have been through the trials and tribulations of college life." And while these sites actually do provide valuable information and resources, as well as some pretty decent writing, it's our refusal to let go of the inhibition-free lifestyle of college we have grown accustomed to, and the need to always be "in the loop," that draws us back to these sites.
We live in an age where rallies for Four Loko have replaced rallies for equality. We'd rather read tips for rush and rankings of the best house on campus than open up a textbook and study evolution. Maybe we're too nervous to see that we may be climbing down the evolutionary ladder by reveling in our frattiness. Hell, I'm so into the lifestyle I even contribute to these types of sites. What do I get from it besides the satisfaction of seeing my name in print? I'm not trying to be a journalist or make money from any of this, I'm just grasping at the threads of my boisterous youth and sharing the wisdom I've gained from one too many beers or the successes (and failures) of taking a girl skeet shooting on a date. [ASIDE: Seriously, take girls skeet shooting. I can't say this enough. Do it. You'll both love it.]
College students, especially males, are one of the most important demographics for advertisers. We come in droves to see action movies and drink beers because they change colors when cold. We love relating our exploits, so sites that aggregate these tales are the logical step for an Internet that puts every college campus at our fingertips. And why just gab with your girlfriend when you can hear what to wear and how to act on a first date from nameless, faceless others just like you? On these sites you can read anything and everything. Sometimes they hit the heavy issues like binge drinking and date rape. Sometimes they tell us how to trim our nether regions. It's all out there and plebian collegians are eating it up (the information, not the nether region trimmings, that is).
Maybe I've got our motives for readings these sites all wrong and it's just an innocent guilty pleasure. Sometimes college students just need a lighthearted break from the rigors of academia and find it in the words of the exploits of their peers. Why are you still reading this? What will make you continue to read these sites tomorrow? The information is out there, with new posts covering the gamut of college topics, but until that next post comes across my Twitter feed or is linked in someone's Facebook status, I've got a beer to shotgun, because just like you, my life is bro.
Follow Jeff A. Katz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Jeff_A_Katz