When I view the world through the kaleidoscope vision of anxiety it really does feel like every minor setback has a worst case scenario and that somehow these scenarios would result in my immediate imprisonment, death, or social embarrassment. However, because I’ve spent so much time worrying about absolutely nothing, I’ve had a weird ability to remain almost completely calm when there’s actual stress or when everyone else is freaking out. As a sort of psychodynamic defense mechanism, I liked to make fun of when everyone else goes crazy.
And there was no better time to do this than the Mizzou protests of 2015.
It’s been less than three years since the massive campus protests in the fall of 2015, but it feels like an eternity. For those who weren’t there, well, it was all over the news so they probably caught news of it somewhere, even if it was just by a racist uncle at Thanksgiving. I’m not going to try to get into the specifics of the protests because that’s not a rabbit hole I’m willing to jump into and backlash I don’t want to deal with, but essentially a group called Concerned Student 1950 protested treatment of African Americans on campus (Also, at some point before the protests someone apparently smeared a swastika made of shit on a bathroom wall in a dorm, which is less racist and more, “what happens when someone takes bath salts). The university president and chancellor resigned, and it was a whole ordeal. And the campus LITERALLY burned to the ground.
Except it didn’t.
Yeah, there were protests and tension and all that jazz, but I can say for certain that nothing was ever that bad or dangerous. Honestly, for a nervous little dude like me it was kind of fun. Because everyone went insane. Seriously, I had a blast on the days when the protests were supposedly at their worst because it felt like campus was in the apocalypse. Everyone stayed inside. The library was empty. No lines at dining halls. Classes got canceled. And there I was strutting around like it was my job. And I loved seeing how crazy everyone else got.
The most famous show of irrationality came from a crazed-looking “professor” of some kind named Melissa Click who demanded a student journalist leave a protest circle. On public ground. Where press was allowed. Because First Amendment. Anyway, when the journo refused to move, she asked for some “muscle.” This made the school look awful, but from my perspective it was hilarious. Especially when protesters made supporting her their cause. Like, this lady was basically worthless. I’m pretty sure she taught a class about Twilight at some point. Good times, good times. But this wasn’t the best incident of craziness from my perspective.
Some of my best friends were part of the student paper, which I previously said scared me during freshman year. Considering the University of Missouri is filled to the brim with people trying desperately to be journalists, everyone thought the protests would be their chance to catch the scoop, and I got a front row seat to watch the insanity in the paper’s Facebook group. On the night the group went mad, supposedly all sorts of shit was going on across campus. It wasn’t, but you wouldn’t know that by following the group.
One girl in particular was the source of some of the hardest laughs I’ve ever had. Every rumor she vaguely heard about became something worth mentioning as a possible lead to follow. At one point she proclaimed that none other than the KKK were marching through the school Greek Town. Twitter was all in for this rumor if I remember. People genuinely believed the KKK was around. They weren’t. Obviously. I mean, it makes sense given the nature of the protests, but any amount of logic would show that no, the KKK probably wasn’t there.
But wait! Then the girl came back to the group with an even more severe claim. “THERE ARE SNIPERS ON TOP OF CORNELL,” she proclaimed in all-caps. Who was responsible for putting snipers on top of the business school? No one knew, but this was a serious claim. And it was just a rumor. A rumor that was clearly false. But she thought it was actually worth following, even when other people in the group kind of made fun of her for it. More power to her for following what she believed though, I guess? Regardless, following the drama that night was the best reality show of the decade.
Maybe I’m insensitive for laughing about people who were genuinely afraid in a trying time. But y’know what? I don’t really care. In a time when I was constantly afraid and nervous, I got to experience a world that was crazier than I was. And I loved it.