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Authentic Eagles: Josh Artman on Breaking the Simulation

As Boston College students, it can be tempting to hide our true selves. Embracing our individuality can help us to understand ourselves and experience the world around us as genuinely as possible. Authentic Eagles is a series that gives a voice to the people who have experienced firsthand the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of being one’s authentic self at BC. We hope that readers are inspired to have conversations and reflections of their own, working toward being more authentic individuals.

Josh Artman, MCAS '19

If you’ve spent enough time around me, you probably already know that I’m a fan of this little thing called simulation theory. It’s basically everything, if you catch my drift. Buying into the concept is definitely a hard sell, but at the very least sim theory is a fun logical exercise about humanity, technological progress, and basic probability.

Even if you’re not totally sold on the sim, you have to admit that Boston College itself is totally simulated. BC has more than its fair share of serious problems and bizarre contradictions, but there’s still something undeniably special about simply walking around campus.

Maybe it’s the gothic architecture, or the fact that the Bean Counter exists, or the university’s blatant disregard for the Americans with Disabilities Act. Whatever it is, it’s hard to shake the feeling that things are perhaps just a little too good to be true around these parts.

Sure, the same thing can be said for other colleges as well—maybe this sense of simulation isn’t unique to the everyday hustle and bustle of Chestnut Hill. But few schools are as obsessed with appearances as BC, from our finely manicured students to our finely manicured lawns. A lot of work goes in behind the scenes to keep the sim running smoothly. You probably already know about our stellar facilities crews, but what about Emergency Management? Or the BC Neighborhood Center down over on Washington Street?

And then there’s the BC Bubble, which is about as sim as it gets. Aside from one semester abroad, I haven’t really left BC’s gravitational pull since I first moved into Duchesne East as a doe-eyed freshman. I’ve spent my summers working for ResLife or living it up on Undine Road. As any bubbleboy can tell you, this makes for a stable, safe, and at least somewhat predictable life. Welcome to the simulation, brother.

So, what does any of this have to do with my authentic college experience? What’s my poignant piece of advice for all of you readers at home? Simple: learn the rules of the simulation, and then figure out how to game the system. And no, I’m not talking about the classic “there’s only one cookie in this BC Dining bakery bag” trick.

Allow me to explain. In no conceivable universe should I be allowed to work for a police department. I shouldn’t play an integral role in the opening ceremony of a brand new art museum. I don’t deserve to exhibit someone else’s hard work at a so-called “Innovation and Creativity Festival,” and I definitely shouldn’t be able to create and distribute a video game in which the school football coach has a sexual encounter with the disembodied spirit of an academic building’s basement.

But even the best simulations have their fair share of cracks, exploits, and glitches. Old-fashioned hard work is always a solid strategy, but sometimes all it takes is being in the right place at the right time. Or having friends in the right places. Or working harder than anyone else. Having the confidence to go against the grain and do your own thing. Breaking the rules you know you can get away with. Saying “yes” to the right person, even when you know you don’t really have the time and should probably be saying “no.” And of course, a bit of dumb luck never hurt anyone.

Throughout my time here, I’ve often told myself that I’ll probably never get the chance to do any of this again. Recently, I’ve been questioning that mentality—I’m pretty sure life does in fact exist after college. But in a way, I’ve always treated BC like one big amusement park. After paying such a hefty admission fee, you just know that I’ve been trying to go on as many rides as I can cram into my visit.

Out of all of the rides in the park, my favorite has got to be The New England Classic. As a second semester freshman, I stumbled my way into what was at the time more of a loose collective of assorted pranksters and smart-asses. While the group grew and became more established, I self-enrolled in a genuinely lifechanging crash course in media production and all of its associated joys.

Spanning all different types of content and mediums, my work with The Classic has given me a real sense of what I want to spend my life doing—making dope stuff. Along the way, I’ve had the pleasure of befriending some of the silliest and most talented goofballs this side of Comm Ave. I wub wub wub them very much.

That’s not to say that things have been all sunshine and sex jokes, however. Oftentimes this desire to get my tuition’s worth—whatever that may mean—has led me to overextend myself. I tend to grind myself to the bone during the week, and then spend the weekend doing nothing at all in order to recuperate. I don’t really go out on weekends, partially because I don’t have that “classic senior friend group” that everyone else seems to have figured out.

I have friends that I’ve been ignoring for months, and when we see each other on campus they now politely joke about how we never hang out anymore. This year for Valentine’s Day I had dinner by myself in Mac (I ordered the super weird combo dish that includes both dumplings and chicken wings for some reason), before staying up all night with my good pal Luke to edit a Classic video in the basement of Cushing. I love doing what I do, but everything has its costs.

As you may have guessed, I’ve developed the nasty habit of valuing my passion projects more than actual school assignments over the past few years. I told myself that devoting hundreds of hours to working on something as uniquely stupid as DazQuest was something I’d only be able to get away with in college, so I had to do it. But in that same semester, I failed to complete my senior thesis and had to withdraw from the Communication department’s honors program.

And honestly, that’s okay—there’s no way to truly ride all of the rides. But I do have regrets. I’ve regularly put work ahead of my own personal wellbeing, with all-nighters becoming a near-weekly ritual this semester. Even right now, I’m writing this at six in the morning. I should be in bed!

I wish I made more of an effort to respect my mental and physical health in college, instead of adopting a “screw it, I’ll work things out during break” mentality.

At the very least, I regret never once paying a visit to University Counseling Services despite feeling severely anxious and potentially depressed at various points in the past few years. At this point, I know I can get through these last few weeks of college just by giving it the ol’ Artman try. But in retrospect, I bet I could have made things at least a little easier on myself.

A lot of good certainly can come from breaking the simulation—more resume sections, more unique opportunities, more amusement park rides, all of it. But resources aren’t infinite, and we can only do so much. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to play by the normal set of rules.

Think about it this way: when I was little, I used to play a lot of RollerCoaster Tycoon 2. The game is incredibly fun, and somehow manages to be both an amusement park and a simulation at the same time. I think I’ve managed to confuse even myself at this point, so I’ll leave off with this: RollerCoaster Tycoon® 2: Triple Thrill Pack – Buy Now!

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