For a trendpiece on how social media is killing the college bar, the New York Times headed upstate to prep Bacchanalia Cornell University to get some juicy quotes from bros and bro-ettes just trying to enjoy a fishbowl full of vodka in peace before heading back to a fraternity house for some sex. And while the piece succeeded in finding several bored, hair twirling, obsessively smartphoning revelers, there was one problem: almost all of the students quoted in the piece gave the reporter a fake name. Sounds like the newfound Trolling Department at Cornell University is churning out some real thought leaders.
The piece, Last Call for College Bars plots the inverse relationship between the popularity of social media and the popularity of bars with names like The Library or The Fifth Down or Friendly's, places in towns like Ann Arbor or Gainesville or Chapel Hill, places where college kids can take neon colored shots of bottom shelf liquor and make out with guys named Matt who you later find out was a townie. With the advent of Facebook, Foursquare, and even Grindr (which I have not known a heterosexual person to use, but, I guess it's been awhile since I've been a horny college kid), students are opting to do most of their social interaction on the internet rather than in bars. The end of a hazy era! From the Times,
...cool is irrelevant when you have arrived at a bar at the insanely early hour of just after 9 p.m. on a Wednesday, in the company of a fraternity "most of us wouldn't go to a mixer with, " said Michelle Guida, 21, fiddling with her orange Hermès bracelet and gathering three straws to drink from simultaneously. "But it's their bar tab, " said Vanessa Gilen, also 21, who did not look up from her iPhone as she sipped and texted furiously.
Fascinating! But Michelle Guida, 21, and Vanessa Gilen, 21, do not exist. They are pseudonyms employed by crafty Ivy Leaguers intent on avoiding having their Google reputations ruined and/or having their fake ID's taken away. Ivy Gate and the Cornell Daily Sun caught on to the shenanigans, as well as the fact that other students quoted in or pictured with the article — Tracy O'Hara, John Montana, David Lieberman, and Ben Johnson — are nowhere to be found in the Cornell student directory, either.
The author of the Times piece is understandably upset, according to IvyGate. After all, the students' decision to fabricate their names makes it sort of look like maybe she made them up, even though doing that as a Times writer would be a terrible idea.
I feel bad for the Times writer, I do, because the Cornell kids sound like jerks. But I'm equally amazed that the Times isn't aware of the Fake Bar Name, a tool almost every female underage bargoer I knew used back in our days of fake ID's. The Fake Bar Name protects against being turned in by name, but it's also a personal safety thing — telling creepy dudes that your name is something that your name really isn't keeps them from finding you in the campus directory (or, now, on Facebook). I was Rachel Johnson sometimes. Rachel is still wanted on campus for getting caught breaking curfew in a boys' dorm in 2003 and then running out of an emergency exit. If you see her, tell her she's in big trouble. Or, you know, just Tweet at her.