Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
February 8, 2023

I’ve been asked a lot lately how it feels to be a senior, and I give everyone the same response: It feels good, but I love college and don’t want it to end.

And now that it’s April, I keep looking back and thinking that I basically just got here, so how could I be leaving? Then I remember what has happened in the world of popular culture since I was a freshman at Hopkins, and having these distinct nuggets of passing (and perpetuating) popularity as time stamps in my years here makes me think that time really did pass, college is almost over and things have changed.

First off, when I was a freshman, it was totally acceptable to not have an iPhone. That didn’t last long. I felt like I woke up one day and realized that everyone around me had this phone, and I was at a disadvantage for not having one. I lasted two years in college without getting any type of smartphone. In the past few years, various apps like Vine and Snapchat have gained popularity — there’s an app for anything you could possibly need, and now I check my phone 100 times more often than I did when I was a freshman.

Secondly, a huge cultural phenomenon that I need to mention is One Direction. I distinctly remember being in the library on Q Level when I first discovered them. This was one of the only times I was in the library past midnight during my first semester of college. Café Q (oh my God) was closed for the night, Q Level was deserted, and in the days before Brody, the 24-hour library options were few.

It was October. I was procrastinating writing a paper by watching music videos on YouTube in one of the old blue chairs. YouTube suggested One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” so I clicked on it and WAS NEVER THE SAME. Just kidding. But I rocked out to that song for the rest of the semester. At first I was slightly embarrassed that I began listening to a boy band whose members were my age (Louis, Zayn, Niall). Then I figured that I grew up with *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, and I was really just falling back to my roots. And I can listen to whatever I want.

But then over the course of the next few weeks, I watched as everyone else discovered the band at the same time. I saw that only six of my friends had “liked” their page on Facebook, but knew that they were pushing incredibly hard for popularity in the U.S., the final frontier. Boy did they get it. Over four years, I listened to their albums, discussed their music videos with some friends, and liked them to be ironic but secretly really loved them. I watched them grow from boys into tattooed men. And now we lost one of them! I’m leaving college only a few months after Zayn left the band.

If that doesn’t make you feel old, remember “Call Me Maybe”? That was HUGE when I was a freshman. And it was released in September of 2011, basically when I started school. And OH, THE VIDEOS. So much lip-synching!!! The song was popular for a very long time. A long time. And we all thought Carly Rae Jepsen was going to be a one-hit wonder (does the song with Owl City count?), but then she was on Broadway for some reason as the titular Cinderella for a spell (tee hee), and then released a new single this year, “I Really Like You,” and everything is full circle and makes sense in the world.

Other honorable mentions include “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, the “Harlem Shake” and, of course, “Gangnam Style.” I remember my friend Dave and I killing it whenever “Gangnam Style” came on. It’s like riding a bike: I bet I will be able to do the dance in five years. Cheers to songs like this, blown out of proportion, for eternity. And played ad nauseam on the radio in Levering.

Also in the past four years, Jennifer Lawrence became Jennifer Lawrence, Frozen took over the world and people started talking a lot about feminism in the entertainment industry.

And while so many new phenomena started, many dynasties ended. For one, we lost some of the greatest cast members of Saturday Night Live. As much as I love many cast members of yore, I think that Bill Hader is one of the funniest people alive today and I really miss him on the show, along with Jason Sudeikis and Kristen Wiig. Andy Samberg was still making digital shorts when I was a freshman and now he has his own show, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which I love.

Jon Stewart is leaving the Daily Show. Stephen Colbert is leaving The Colbert Report to replace David Letterman on the Late Show.

I watched the series finale of 30 Rock in my friend’s room in Commons on a projector, the day after it aired. I watched the series finale of Parks and Recreation in my bed in my apartment two years later.

And, important to me but not to all, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter both retired from the Yankees.

There are so many other cultural trends to discuss, but these were the ones that stuck out at me. I guess I’ve been in college for a while. Maybe it’s time to go on to the next thing. I don’t want college to end, but it won’t be the end of the world.

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