Riding with apathy: Razor scooters as a cultural metaphor

Illustration by Dan Nacu

Shane Wade
Opinion Editor

I’ve noticed an unlikely trend on our campus: People are riding Razor, kick scooters, the kind I’ve only ever witnessed little kids riding. It’s a really particular sight for a campus that often prides itself on being uncompromisingly trendy, fashionable and “in.” The phenomenon was at first embarrassing to witness, but now, I stare in awe and wonder as they pass by, bearing witness to the resurrection of Razor scooters from our childhood memories onto our campus and the preeminent cultural metaphor for life at VCU and the student body.

Outside of the obvious discussion point regarding the arbitrariness of personal transportation choices or fighting against social stigma in order to embrace your own individuality, it’s interesting to observe the effect this particular artifact has on others.

Or rather, the impact it does not have.

Contrary to mainstream thought, no one actually cares enough to even spare a joke about the phenomenon. If I’ve learned about about the cultural attitude of the student body here, it’s that nothing much bothers us, not the possibility of a surveillance state, not the medically unhealthy choices of others. It’s hard enough for people to even notice their presence, much more so to suss out an opinion on the matter. By and large, we just don’t care.

Our campus is often laden with a productive form of apathy. We’ll accept whatever flyer or promotional card is stuffed into our hands, sign any voting pledge or bear witness to any demonstration that catches our eye, but ask us how deeply we care about the cause and a sheepish grin paired with an answer including the word “kinda” will inevitably be our response.

Something about this environment encourages us to be extrovertive observers and engaged introverts; we unite in our passivity and in our constant urge to not invest enough to care.

In many ways, it’s a healthy state of being, endearing enough that it blesses us with a liberty akin to urban anonymity and disturbing enough to observe with wonder. The apathy that characterizes our campus also functions as a model for what other communities should or should not do and even a representation of what the nation should be embracing, in terms of contemplative isolationism.

But when does this apathy become a problem?

If you’ve ever ridden or seen a Razor scooter, the impracticality and inelegance of its design and function are obvious; it is clumsy to carry and awkward to ride, often leaving its rider with tiny scrapes and cuts from rubbing against the scooter. In a crowd, it immediately stands out and marks an individual. It’s a sign of juvenility, in a financial and personal sense. It is neither subtle, nor, functionally speaking, professional.

As nice as it is to hear people tell you that you shouldn’t care what people think, in certain settings, particularly on a college campus, individual choices matter. Your peers and instructors should think highly of you and it’s a disservice to promote yourself in a manner that portrays you as someone without some professionalism, class and culture.

The permissive, open environment of our campus does not always invite us to remember the structural function of our placement here: attainment. We came here to avoid being the person who rode a scooter to any sort of function, to embrace and admire the elegance of practicality and achieve the higher standard that both our parents and ourselves had set for us.

To which end do we serve? Do we ride the Razor or retire it? Embrace our identity at the cost of other’s respect and potential derision or set forth to establish ourselves as persons willing to marry the mainstream in order to better our station in life?

 

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