Opt Out

I think of life kind of like being in high school, but if you were signed up for every single club. You graduate 8th grade and get shoved into the door of OPRF, your name on every club, group, and sport’s sign up list. From 8 am to when you go to bed, no 3:11 break, it’s all club after club. The only chance to get any free time is if you quit the club. This requires an awkward conversation with the group leader. It’s uncomfortable. It takes a lot of guts to walk up in front of the class, in front of friends, people you respect, and tell your superior that the club they run just isn’t for you.

Here’s the catch: you get re-signed up every day. Every hour. Every second.

Some clubs are easier to quit, and some are harder. It depends on your friend group, which teachers you have and which you like, what you identify as, your skin color or gender, the way you were raised. Some clubs you don’t even know you’re in. Some of them can benefit you, and those are the hardest to leave. Some don’t benefit you or harm you, but they’re comfortable. They’re all you know. Freedom, radical subjectivity, finding the true meaning of life, comes when you quit all of the clubs. When you get to go home at 3:11, that is what Camus calls freedom and happiness. Unstructured and un-systemized life.

There’s a racism club, a sexism club, a homophobia club, a xenophobia club, a club for every system, every prejudice, every discrimination – no matter how small. It’s so, so easy to stay in the club, to continue thinking the way you have been since you were born. It’s so easy to hold your privilege in your hands and simply not acknowledge it. It benefits you, it makes your life easier, so why get rid of it? Why feel guilty for it? White privilege is like that. Every day we with white privilege have to consciously make the choice to acknowledge it. We have to see it in our hands and look it straight in its face. We have to be aware of it in every word, we have to quit the club with every sentence.

It’s also easy to stay in a club that harms you. As a woman, I have never once stopped believing that all genders are equal in value, ability, and validity. Yet, as a woman, I have fallen victim to self-image issues enforced by society. I have been influenced by gender stereotypes. Quitting these clubs, the ones that target you, might seem easy. And for many, maybe it is. But the truth is that the work is grueling. Picking apart your identity and seeing what weeds have taken root there, what elements exist that you did not approve, is hard. Quitting these clubs is saying goodbye to something toxic, breaking away from a poison, yet in order to do so, you must be confident enough in yourself to know that you are different from what all of society tells you you are. That is no small task.

Opt out every day. Take your name off the sign up list every second. Maybe one day, some clubs will dissolve. It’ll get easier to opt out until it’s a subconscious process. Not all of the clubs will disappear, we’ll never be free from systems. But some of them don’t harm anyone. And the ones that do, we can burn down.

“Groundhog Day” as an Existentialist Film

The movie “Groundhog Day” is about a man, Phil Connors, who has a bad outlook on life. But by some fluke of nature, Phil ends up repeating the same Groundhog Day over and over. At first, Phil is confused, and keeps repeating his actions every day so that they are the same, in case the next day is not a repeat of the last. But then, Phil begins to realize that he can act however he wants and there will be no consequences because there will be “no tomorrow.” He begins to break many social and societal constructs, basically doing whatever he wants because he knows there will be no repercussions. He ends up becoming happier and having a better outlook on life once he begins doing this. He has a new level of freedom that he did not have before.

One particularly interesting thing about “Groundhog Day” is that it portrays a positive view of existentialism. I think it’s easy for many people to say existentialists are simply pessimistic and refuse to see any good in life. “Groundhog Day” refutes all these statements. Phil begins the movie tied to societal constructs meant to give life meaning. After repeating the same day over and over again, Phil is set free from these constructs. He no longer fears society’s judgement of his actions. And only when he gets this freedom is he truly happy in the movie. Although existentialism is, on one level, about trying to shy away from things we traditionally think gives value to our lives, it’s also about the freedom we can acquire from living without these social constructs.

One other connection that I think must be made here is the connection of “Groundhog Day” and Camus’ “Myth of Sisyphus.” Much like Sisyphus, Phil must repeat the same day, pushing his “boulder” up the hill, just for the day to repeat or the boulder to fall back down the hill. But Phil begins to recognize the absurdity of life as he repeats his days, just as Camus says Sisyphus must accept the absurdity of life as he pushes his boulder. Camus says that once you realize how absurd life is, you can find amusement and even happiness in its absurdity. This is why he proposes that Sisyphus is happy, and this is why Camus would also consider Phil to be happy as well.

What’s So Interesting About The Stranger?

Meursault walking along the beach.

The Stranger is a book that stays true to its name. The reader follows a man who goes by the name Meursault and throughout the book we see Meursault respond to certain events in a peculiar manner that we wouldn’t deem as “normal.” Meursault is shown to have close to zero emotions on anything. It’s the way he acts and responds towards people that make him such a frustrating character.

Story begins with the death of Meursault’s mother. He explains to the reader that he never felt a deep connection with his mother. Of course he didn’t want her to die but he quickly accepted the fact that there was nothing he could do about it. He also didn’t seem to care all too much about her death. He never cried nor felt any pain compared to the other residents at the mother’s home. His interactions with the workers there were also quite unusual. He never wanted to see his mother corpse to see her one last time and his attention was toward the sunlight a lot of the time.

After his return from his mother’s funeral, he meets Marie again and begins to “date her” one could say. However, their conversations are quite strange to say the least and in my honest opinion, I don’t view relationships in that sense. Meursault goes out with Marie but doesn’t love her. You can see this throughout several of their conversations. On page 41-42, Marie questions Meursault asking him “do you love me?” Meursault showing no emotion says that he “didn’t mean anything but that I didn’t love her.” It’s this conversation where he reinforces his commitment to not showing any emotion towards anything.

So the questions still rises: What’s so interesting about The Stranger? The only thing I could comprehend is that we follow a man who doesn’t act normal in any sense that we can imagine. He’s the stranger in his society and people don’t know how to deal with him. That’s why the reader gets so frustrated with his actions throughout the book. We don’t understand why Meursault does the things he does and that’s why this book is so interesting. We don’t know what his next move is gonna be because he doesn’t act “human.”

This book forces us to think in a different way about human interaction and the way of thinking of a single person. This book is so interesting because it frustrates us, it shows us different ways of interactions, and it forces us to question society and how weird we are to others.