IN February, Sunday Styles asked college students nationwide to tell us — through their own stories, in their own voices — what love is like for them. When we first held this contest three years ago, the most popular essay topic was hooking up: the “no strings attached” sex that for many wasn’t turning out to be so carefree. The question that seemed to hover over hundreds of such accounts was: How do we get the physical without the emotional?
What a difference three years make. This time the most-asked question was the opposite: How do we get the emotional without the physical? The college hookup may be alive and well, but in these entries the focus shifted to technology-enabled intimacy — relationships that grow and deepen almost exclusively via laptops, webcams, online chats and text messages. Unlike the sexual risk-taking of the hookup culture, this is love so safe that what’s most feared is not a sexually transmitted disease but a computer virus, or perhaps meeting the object of your affection in person.
In poring over these submissions, we were struck by how routinely the Internet and smartphones are obliterating the geographical boundaries that used to define one’s dating pool. We read about high school couples that no longer split up when they go to separate colleges because, well, why should they when they can still spend practically every waking moment in touch and even in sight? The same goes for foreign-study flings that carry on after lovers are once again on separate continents.
Caitlin Dewey’s winning entry, which appears today, exemplifies the possibility and peril of this kind of pixelated long-distance love story. Although we can’t hope to capture the voices and experiences of the more than 1,400 students from 370 colleges who answered our call, we’ll try to round out the picture by publishing the essays of the runners-up through May.
Meanwhile, congratulations to Ms. Dewey and our other finalists, listed below, for writing such elegant, wise, funny and big-hearted essays. And thanks to our contest intern, Emma Rosenberg of Barnard, who assisted expertly in every aspect of this contest for five months, and didn’t flinch or flee when more than 800 submissions arrived on the final day.
Andrew Limbong, State University of New York at New Paltz
Anna Klenke, St. Olaf College
Elliott DeLine, Syracuse
David Mark Simpson, Rutgers
OTHER NOTABLE ESSAYS
Lindsay Abrams, Wesleyan
Charlotte Alter, HarvardContinue reading the main story
A hungry shark befriends a penguin. A dog tries to save his owner by jumping in the lake. Helpful tips to improve the lives of animals in our community. And the many ways, from nourishment to companionship, animals benefit us.These were the topics of this year’s winning entries for Arlington’s annual Animal Essay Contest.City leaders, including City Councilwoman Sheri Capehart, surprised winners Friday at schools across Arlington.“The essays were creative, and the students were really thinking outside the box,” said Chris Huff, the city’s animal services manager. “You could see that our young people have developed a lot of insight and knowledge on the subject of animals.”More than 1,200 students at public, private, and home schools submitted essays, the highest turnout since the competition began 11 years ago.First-place winners in each grade received a $500 savings bond. Second-place received a $350 bond, and third-place received a $150 bond.Each grade was asked to write about a specific topic.For Grade 3: If animals could talk, what would they say?For Grade 4: What feelings do you think animals have?For Grade 5: What are some ways that can make life better for animals in your community?For Grade 6: How do animals benefit us in our daily lives?Essays included stories about beloved family pets, whimsical tales about talking armadillos, and information on the importance of picking up litter to provide strong habitats to wild animals.A panel of local citizens and members of the Arlington Animal Services Center Advisory Board judged the essays on elements of writing, including focus, development of ideas, and voice.WinnersThird grade:
1st place: Megan McDonald, Moore Elementary
2nd place: Jace White, Brockett Elementary
3rd place: Kawther Osman, Butler ElementaryFourth grade:
1st place: Vivian Tran, Fitzgerald Elementary
2nd place: Dawna Berry, Butler Elementary
3rd place: Jacob Fly, Fitzgerald ElementaryFifth grade:
1st place: Christina van Waasbergen, Butler Elementary
2nd place: Tyler Blake, Children’s University
3rd place: Tanner Greenwood, Corey ElementarySixth grade:
1st place: Amy Karlson, Children’s University
2nd place: Gideon Adeyemo, Lynn Hale Elementary
3rd place: Julian Lopez, Bryant ElementaryBy Sarah Bahari
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