Freshers’ Week is a fascinating social experiment. What happens when you take hundreds of young adults from different backgrounds and cultures, create artificial cringe-worthy social events to encourage interaction and discreetly incite the mass consumption of alcohol? The answer is, of course, an orgy of debauchery on the scale of the last days of Sodom and, in theory, the creation of long-lasting friendships forged around the person who you decided to become during that fateful first week.
When asked in the early fifties whether he was a communist, as many people suspected, Fidel Castro’s response was meticulous: “I will be communist, if I can be Stalin”. What followed was a series of calculated decisions which pushed Castro towards the ideology which would define Cuba for the rest of the century. We make our decisions based on a certain amount of rationality, both conscious and subconscious, which in theory grow to create other people’s perceptions of us. The chiselled schweff who screws every girl he can get his hands on will become known as ‘the sociopathic player’, the girl who cooks for everyone will become ‘the mum’ and the chap who puts on a baffling playlist of alternative dubstep during your first game of ‘Ring of Fire’ will become known as ‘the douchebag’.
These examples are not necessarily bad, but what they do represent is examples of how we make decisions based on benefit, taking into account the cost they exact. Wait, I hear you say. Is he really applying the cost/benefit analysis to the human personality? My simple answer is yes. For those ignoramuses who are unfamiliar with the concept, the cost/benefit analysis is generally applied to simple economic decisions. For example, Bodgem kebab are thinking about buying a new chip fryer. It costs them around £10,000. But, the benefit is that – thanks to improved efficiency, taste and speed – the fryer will bring in around £5,000 a year more than the old one. It is clear that the expenditure is well worth it. How on earth though does this apply to humans?
Well, let us take ‘the sociopathic player’. As he begins the evening by applying copious amounts of wax to his hair, carefully ironing his finest Oxford shirt whilst playing some slightly less alternative dub, he has got one thing on his mind: pussy. He knocks back a few beers, but not enough to lose sight of the target. He hits the Founders Hall with his newly established crew and instantly sees what he wants. Sure, he misses a few times but eventually heads home with a slightly inebriated victim. The benefit for him: he’s a player. The cost: he’s a sociopath. As an economist, I am made to remove emotion from the picture. I refuse to believe that there is anything akin to a ‘selfless’ good deed. Everybody does stuff for cold, calculated reasons. ‘The mum’ benefits from the unconditional love she will receive from her Freshers, the cost being the time and money she puts into the act. As for ‘the douchebag’, he loses the respect of his fellow housemates and spends a fortune on skinny jeans, but gains it by a holier-than-thou-art ego which makes him feel superior to the conformists.
So my Freshers, you have some decisions to make. Who do you want the others to think you are? You are rational human beings with the world to gain, but remember you have to spend a little to make a lot. And be careful little ones, you are just as cold and cynical as I am, even if you don’t know it yet.