By Lizzie Hobbs, Staff Writer
“Let me just play devil’s advocate for a second…”
Oh, what a wonderful phrase. Typically followed by something mildly controversial, not well thought out, and if you’re really lucky: borderline offensive to humanity. It is also the most used phrase by “that guy” in every history class.
The amazing thing about “that guy” is the multitude of forms “that guy” can take. Age, race, gender, class, none of these things dictate who “that guy” is. It’s as if the universe itself, in all its vast wonder and mystery, formed these beings just to force history majors to question their loyalty to the field. The sole purpose of “that guy” is to infuriate 70% of the students, illicit approximately six noticeable eye-rolls (and at least two subtle ones from the professor), and forcing the professor to ask themselves “Shall I take sabbatical next semester?” during the course of each class meeting.
“That guy” is identifiable immediately upon entering the classroom. Common traits of “that guy” include often carrying a messenger bag that isn’t adjusted properly, interrupting everyone they talk to, and reeking of undeserved self-confidence. This self-confidence comes mainly from the absurd amount of historical trivia they know (though their understanding of the significance of these facts is often lacking) and the fact that they have read every Ron Chernow book. Cover. To. Cover.
The most common form of “that guy” will have a burning passion for mid- 20th century German military history (do with that what you will) and absolutely has a favorite type of German tank.
“That guy” will also pepper conversations about history with fun phrases like “Not to condone their actions, but…” using the words “caveat” and “dichotomy” frequently. Very frequently. Arguably too frequently.
In the classroom, the go-to strategy of “that guy” is over-compensation. By throwing out facts which vaguely relate to the lecture topic, “that guy” attempts to distract from the fact that they have not, in fact, done the reading. However, their ability to contribute something to the class’s conversation will help them internally justify the hours they’ve spent watching documentaries about Nazis on the History Channel.
Hobbies of “that guy” include, but are not limited to, “dabbling” in either philosophy or political science (but never admitting that it’s something they are genuinely interested in) and correcting the historical inaccuracies of popular films. Unless you are willing to dedicate a significant portion of your day to hearing about these aforementioned inaccuracies, do not engage in conversation about these films. It is safest to avoid most Russell Crowe movies and, depending on which sub-genre of “that guy” you have encountered, “Braveheart”. (I’m sorry, Mel, they just don’t understand how to suspend disbelief.)
If, perchance, you should find yourself agreeing with “that guy” in class, do not panic. Take a few deep breaths, center yourself, and repeat this mantra: “The United States was not solely responsible for the Allied victory of WWI.” These words will never be uttered by “that guy,” so this should be enough to remove yourself from this frightening scenario.
Finally, if you have read through the entirety of this article, have taken history classes at Gettysburg College, and none of your fellow students have come to mind, you may be “that guy.” There is hope for you, I promise. The road to recovery begins as soon as you stop interrupting your professors with useless facts in class.
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