We’re not entirely sure what anonymity means to us. In some ways, the idea of being totally unknown is liberating — but in others, it’s fucking scary. Articles and photos in our magazine address ambivalences like this. In fact, a lot of them grapple with the murkiness of being young today. The shared subtext between our three main sections — online, self, connect — is a vague sense of unease. Our features break them up, in sharp rupture.
We live in a political order that attempts to atomize us. To make us smaller, unknown to ourselves and others. We’re driven into and by technology engineered to exploit us. To make us known and knowable to corporations. A twenty-first century experience is a dialectic of anonymity: we’re entirely transparent and absolutely isolated.
To begin to cope, we have to come together. A real collective isn’t a monolith, but a shifting mass. We need to reject systems and strategies that silo us. To reach for one another, to let ourselves be reached. There is power in this kind of anonymity. A power we can seize.
[dropcap]I[/dropcap] store all of my documents on Google Drive. A few years ago in what I thought was a stroke of genius, I replaced my aging laptop with a cheap desktop and an even cheaper Chromebook, then I made the switch to cloud based storage. Everywhere I go, I feel assured that my work will be accessible, as though my documents exist in a real cloud constantly floating over me, waiting for me to retrieve them.
Suffice it to say, Danielle Klein and Sarah Niedoba disabused me of that comfortable notion when they told me about a topic they had been researching. They explained that cloud-based email systems, like the one that U of T recently adopted for its students, might expose users to spying by intelligence agencies in the US. Their feature, “A constitutional black hole,” reminded me that we do not always notice the presence of politics; they exist in the fine print of our day-to-day lives.
This issue of The Varsity Magazine is themed “Politics” and attempts to illustrate how struggles over influence and power are present in many aspects of our lives. Our choices about the activism we pursue, the entertainment we consume, and the drugs we smoke all have political ramifications.
The design of this magazine was led by creative director Margaux Parker. In the fall issue of The Varsity Magazine, the creative team focused on a minimal aesthetic. In this issue, they opted for a more experimental approach, inspired by pop-art, propaganda, and collage. The theme remains present throughout and even becomes amplified by the creative team’s bold visual choices.
Most of the topics and issues explored in this magazine will already be familiar to readers. I hope the contents inspire you to pause, examine, and, above all, enjoy.