I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never seen an episode of “Black Mirror.” My pop culture repertoire was last updated in 2010, and not in the quirky way that means I am endearingly out of the loop, but in the “it’s honestly shameful that you can’t name a current cultural trend” way. Despite my lack of learning on current celebrity happenings, I do know that we are, in fact, living in a simulation.
There are several things a freshman at Boston University learns the hard way. The College of Arts and Sciences, CAS, is not pronounced as a word unto itself but solely in its initialism form. Warren Towers has corners that any sane Terrier KNOWS not to look directly into, if at all avoidable (hairballs on the escalators, people). SHA really just does not exist. And finally, you are going to see the same people everywhere. There is no escape from the infamous, often dreaded and irrevocable reality of on-campus living: the BU 200.
Have you ever noticed the same kids are always in your elevator? Always the same lanky, vaguely attractive boy sitting behind you in lecture? The same couple always uncomfortably sitting on top of one another in the dining hall? Everywhere you look, the same people on the same streets, ducking to avoid eye contact and dodging cell phone-engrossed pedestrians, but they somehow know your group project partner or someone you unfortunately hooked up with fall semester freshman year.
This, my friends, is the BU 200.
The truth is, only 200 students actually attend Boston University. The rest are robots, probably (I haven’t quite worked out the details). But bear with me. While many may claim that friend circles tend to blend together in college, or that it’s simply coincidence that your classes coincide and your schedules align with the same people over and over, the fact of the matter is that within the web of social connection in this school, you only know about 200 people, and that’s it.
Sure, with 30,000 odd students in a square mile of campus, even the simplest statistics scholar would tell you that there are bound to be some run-ins with same general crowd. But this is all too common for it to simply be coincidence. The oddest connections crop up between the strangest people: the girl in your English class knows your roommate’s sorority sister’s best friend, the boy in your lecture does Stage Troupe with your friend’s former foe, the kid you met in Allston last weekend actually has been getting Einstein’s at the same time as you this whole damn year. The six degrees of separation and they all lead to someone you sort-of half know.
At its best, this conspiracy of cohorts puts to the test how well a large urban university can foster a community that genuinely feels small. The unspoken camaraderie between the friends of friends that compose your own subsidiary of the BU 200 is like no other. At its worst, however, the curse of the BU 200 dictates that you’re not going to be able to avoid that person you just really don’t want to see. And you’ll see them. Everywhere.