Courtesy of Stephen Yang '22

May 9, 2022

YANG | How Can I Live Without You, My Critics?

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No, you haven’t heard from me for a while. 

Senior spring has been a weird time; it’s been a premature departure from my routines in the past years, including writing this column. On one hand, I felt that the column had already run its course. Should I say that I’m quite satisfied with the six-semester ride from noise music as resistance to my yassified self? On the other hand, I simply wasn’t ready for this journey to end. I was terrified that the final chapter of Rewiring Technoculture wouldn’t do justice to my original vision.

This hiatus freed me from the hecticness of doing and allowed me to reflect on what has been done. It gave me the time, space and clarity to think. Cornell constantly inspires me to think, but rarely do I get to properly think. This pause allowed me to move beyond pondering what I have done with my column and begin thinking about what my column has done to people. 

I felt fortunate to have the room to ruminate on the criticism and comments I’ve received. My column has never been free of controversies. People have been offended by the things I wrote. Even though I always knew that was a likely reaction to my writing, for the longest time, I wasn’t comfortable with that. 

When I first started as a columnist, I worried so much about the reaction to my column that merely mulling over the thought that some people may not like what I said terrified me. Every time I published an article, I would go through the comment section on Facebook just to see if I hurt anyone’s feelings. Even seeing a “wow” reaction would make me feel weird. I would wonder what made them decide to put in the intentional effort to choose an alternative reaction, as opposed to the default “like.”  

I eventually found my inner peace once I started seeing my column as a dialectic between me and my readers, an ongoing negotiation of conflicts, tensions and lessons. I now see the past three years as a dialectic that is never-ending and constantly developing. This is our journey of learning, growing and moving forward. 

I hate to admit this, but I love being a niche influencer on campus. And it wouldn’t be possible without you, my critics.

I appreciate the moments when people recognize my name or my face and tell me that they’ve read my articles –– even when they tell me they don’t like what I said. These moments make me aware that my words are prompting people to think. Once in a while, my friends will tell me that people who I have never met are talking about my column. Other times, people come up to me at parties and challenge my thoughts. Whether they agree with me or not, I appreciate them nonetheless for taking the time to read my work and reflect on it. It is precisely these moments that bring my writings to life, extending my words into lively dialectics. 

It dawned on me that Rewiring Technoculture is never intended to be complete on its own. It was never my intention to define the truth or reality of technoculture. It is your reaction that matters. It is your reaction that brings the conversation forward. It is your reaction that shapes Rewiring Technoculture. It is our column, after all.

I owe so much to all of you who continue to inspire me and push me forward. From the musicians in the underground music scene in Ithaca to the Green Dragon baristas that saved a clipping of my “cool kids” article behind the counter, thank you for being part of this journey.

How can I live without you, my critics? I will never say that I have single-handedly rewired technoculture on my own, but I’m so glad to see that this column has sparked a conversation that will last as flashes of thoughts in people’s minds.

Stephen Yang is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]. This is the final installment of his column Rewiring Technoculture.