Carleton students are over-achievers and, apparently, can produce artistic masterpieces while procrastinating on social media. Last Thursday, all students and alums who had contributed to the Facebook page known as “Overheard at Carleton” received an email from the judging committee of the NPL (Navel Prize in Literature) notifying them of their literary success. For those sworn off social media due to their fear of surveillance and inflated sense of self-importance, Overheard at Carleton is a platform for students to share bits of provocative conversation they overhear on campus, without context.
The annual NPL award is one of the most prestigious in the writing world, and news of Carleton’s reception sparked much controversy. One prize-winning author of a harrowing story about their battle with ingrown toenails lambasted the nomination of Carleton on Twitter, “You can’t reward students for wasting time on social media and typing words other people have said. That’s plagiarism and, even worse, unoriginal. To express my great sorrow, I have retweeted a relevant meme ”
Others reacted quite positively to the campus-wide achievement. The English department, patting themselves vigorously on the back for teaching students proper comma placement, threw a legendary rager that involved creative uses of drinks and book shelves. The Career Center celebrated in their own way by sending a series of emails to encourage students to include the impressive prize in their resumes.
In the midst of the confusion and revelry, the NPL judge panel made a public statement to explain why Overhead at Carleton was a worthy candidate. “Deserving is Carleton College for its mastery of the English language and command of prose. These students, ever so clever, captured the essence of the human condition: humor, sex jokes and raw emotion. We, as a group of eight, elderly white men, feel hip again after reading the numerous posts. The Facebook page captures the zeitgeist of this generation and will surely capture the hearts of readers everywhere. Truly, it is a revolutionary piece of work that redefines what good writing means.”
The mystery pervades of how such a renowned literary institution discovered Overheard at Carleton. Rumors, if we are to believe them, suggest a student in Carleton’s Book Binding class submitted an application and put their printing money and new-found skills to good use.