The war for level 4

By Barney Bolton

Students returning to the library has brought about fresh opportunities for study. Cramped rooms have been left behind for this year, with bewildered students venturing further afield to secure the 2:2 they so desperately crave.

But with change comes conflict, and the newly free students are at war. Facebook has become a battleground. There are no innocents and there is no mercy. Fear reigns in the Billy B. No one says a word, sitting in trembling silence working out how to eat a Kit-Kat without having a Durfess written about them. What was once considered a place of peace, is now anything but, and the stress of writing the summative that’s due tomorrow is compounded by seeing your description graffitied on Facebook walls.

The war is an ideological one. Some believe that playing a trumpet on level four of the library is acceptable. Others disagree. On the other side of the conflict are the monster from ‘A Quiet Place,’ so sensitive to noise that they believe their heads might explode if someone opens a book too loudly.

Like the Cold War, there is no actual violence. The fighting consists of launching missiles across the internet, impacting anyone checking Facebook when they should really be checking in on their work. Those who go on the social media platform in search of players tickets or to leave the always hilarious “fake seller” comments under their friend’s posts must first sift through a passive-aggressive hailstorm.

To understand the extent of the conflict, this reporter was sent undercover. I was prepared for the worst from both sides, armed with heavy-duty ear defenders in case the legions of the loud were on front foot that day. Similarly, in case the silent soldiers were in full force, I abstained from zips, crisp packets, and shoes, minimizing the famously deafening sound of footsteps on the library floor.

I became acutely aware of noise. My own breath as offensive to me as Rod Liddle. The silence of others carried the judgmental undertones of my family at Christmas dinner. Simultaneous cacophonies of laptop tapping and the eerie presence of silent panic attacks. To get to the heart of the matter, I attempted to conduct interviews with the diligent. However, things took a nasty turn when I took out my voice recorder. Heads turned and transformed as students took notes of my appearance for the inevitable barrage of internet assaults. One asked, in sign language, for my initials to ensure maximum impact from their later attack.

Nervousness made me cough and splutter. All hell broke loose as if my bodily function was a starting gun. Those who loved noise saw this as a sign to type more furiously, hitting space bars as if releasing long-dormant anger. Snacks were opened and thrown over shelves like grenades. A barbaric flurry of expletives came from the far corner of the room, cursing the MHRA style guide and the shift to Ultra. An ugly scene and one that I had to leave, slinking away shoeless, knowing a description of me would be plastered across everyone’s feed later that evening.

I see no end to the conflict. Each side is set in its ways. We all live in fear. Fear of making noise, or fear of the noisy. God help us all.

Image: Durham University

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