1.pngAcross the country, college freshmen are settling into their new lives and grappling with something that doesn’t compete with protests and political correctness for the media’s attention, something that no one prepared them for, something that has nothing to do with being “snowflakes” and everything to do with being human.全国各地都有大学一年级学生正在适应新的生活,同那些抗议与政治正确问题相比,他们努力应付的问题无法受到媒体更多关注,没有人帮他们做好准备,这并非他们“雪花一代”独有的问题,这是人类共同的问题。They’re lonely.他们孤独。In a sea of people, they find themselves adrift. The technology that keeps them connected to parents and high school friends only reminds them of their physical separation from just about everyone they know best. That estrangement can be a gateway to binge drinking and other self-destructive behavior. And it’s as likely to derail their ambitions as almost anything else.他们发现自己漂泊在茫茫人海之中。那些科技能帮他们和父母以及高中的朋友们保持联络,但也会提醒他们,几乎所有他们最了解的人都不在自己身边。这种疏远可能会导致酗酒和其他自毁行为。和其他很多问题相比,这一样会破坏他们的抱负。Brett Epstein felt it. “I spent my first night in the dorm and it hit me like a pile of bricks: It’s just me here,” Epstein, a 21-year-old senior at the College of Charleston, told me about his start there three years ago. “I was completely freaked out.”布雷特.爱泼斯坦(Brett Epstein)体会到了这种感觉。“当时我在宿舍里度过了第一个晚上,这感觉就像一堆砖头砸中了我:这里只有我一个人,”21岁的爱泼斯坦是查尔斯顿学院(College of Charleston)的大四学生,他向我描述自己三年前入学时的情形。“我完全吓坏了。Clara Nguyen felt it, too. “It’s a lot more difficult to make friends than people make it out to be,” Nguyen, a 19-year-old sophomore at U.C.L.A., told me about her experience last year. “I didn’t know how to be someone new while at the same time being who I always was.”克拉拉.阮(Clara Nguyen)也有同感。“结交朋友要比想象中难得多,”阮是一位19岁的大二学生,就读于加州大学洛杉矶分校(U.C.L.A),她向我讲述自己去年的经历。“我不知道该怎样做一个新人,同时又保持我一直以来的样子。”The problem sounds so ordinary, so obvious: People in an unfamiliar location confront dislocation. On their own two legs for the first time, they’re wobbly. Who would expect otherwise?这个问题听起来很普通,很明显:人们在一个陌生的地方面临错位。他们第一次独立生活,感觉步履蹒跚。谁不是这样呢?Well, most of them did, because college isn’t sold to teenagers as just any place or passage. It’s a gaudily painted promise. The time of their lives! The disparity between myth and reality stuns many of them, and various facets of youth today — from social media to a secondary-school narrative that frames admission to college as the end of all worry — worsen the impact.的确,大多数人都是这样的,因为大学在青少年心目中不是一个普普通通的地方或旅途。它是一个五彩缤纷的承诺。他们一生中最好的时光!神话与现实之间的差距令他们中的不少人瞠目结舌,当今青年生活中的各个方面更加剧了这种冲击——比如社交媒体,以及那种把上大学描述为一切烦恼的终结这种中学式叙事。Harry Rockland-Miller, who just retired as the director for the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, told me the emblematic story of a freshman he treated:哈利.洛克兰-米勒(Harry Rockland-Miller)曾任马萨诸塞大学安姆斯特分校(University of Massachusetts at Amherst)心理咨询与心理健康中心主任,最近刚刚退休,他给我讲了他接待过的一个新生的故事,颇具象征意味:“He was 18. He came to school and was invited to a party his first weekend, and he didn’t know anybody. So he started to drink. He drank way too much and ended up lying on a bench in his residential hall, feeling very sick. Nobody stopped and said, ‘How are you doing? Are you O.K.?’ And he felt so isolated. When he came in to speak with me the next day, the thing that struck him — what he said — was, ‘There I was, alone, with all these people around.’ ”“他18岁,来上大学,第一个周末被邀请参加一个聚会,但是什么人也不认识,所以就开始喝酒。他喝了太多,结果醉倒在宿舍大厅的长凳上,感觉很恶心。没有人停下来说:‘你怎么样?没事吗?’他感到孤立无援。第二天他来和我谈话的时候,他说,最令他触动的就是,‘身边有那么多人,我却是孤零零的。’”Alone, with all these people around. In a survey of nearly 28,000 students on 51 campuses by the American College Health Association last year, more than 60 percent said that they had “felt very lonely” in the previous 12 months. Nearly 30 percent said that they had felt that way in the previous two weeks.在人群中,孑然一身。美国大学健康学会(American College Health Association)去年在51所院校对将近2.8万名学生进行了调查,发现超过60%的学生说他们在过去12个月里“感觉很孤独”。将近30%的人说他们在过去两周里有这样的感觉。Victor Schwartz, the medical director of the Jed Foundation, which is one of the nation’s leading advocacy groups for the mental health of teenagers and young adults, said that those findings were consistent with his own observation of college students today. “While they expected that academics and finances would be sources of stress,” he told me, “many students were lonely and thought this was sort of unique to them, because no one talked about it.”国内首屈一指的青少年和青年心理健康倡导组织杰德基金会(Jed Foundation)的医学总监维克多.施瓦茨(Victor Schwartz)说,这些发现和他本人对现今大学生的观察是相符的。“来自学业和财务的压力是他们意料之中的,”他对我说,“但是许多学生感觉孤独,而且认为这是他们特有的问题,因为谁也不愿意谈起这个。”Their peers in fact do something that mine couldn’t back in the 1980s, when I attended college: use Facebook and Instagram to perform pantomimes of uninterrupted fun and unalloyed fabulousness. And these “highly curated selves,” as the U.C.L.A. psychologist Elizabeth Gong-Guy called them, “amplify the fact that you’re sitting in your residence hall alone.”他们的同龄人的确会做一些我那代人在1980年代上大学时不会做的事:用Facebook和Instagram来表演一出出哑剧,传播不间断的享乐和纯粹的精彩。UCLA心理学家伊丽莎白.龚-盖伊(Elizabeth Gong-Guy)称之为“经过精心编排的自我”,它们会“放大你此刻正孤坐寓所的事实”。Gong-Guy runs her university’s Campus and Student Resilience program, which helps students with emotional struggles and exemplifies many schools’ intensifying efforts to address loneliness, among other mental health issues.龚-盖伊是UCLA校园与学生适应力项目(Campus and Student Resilience)的负责人。目前多所学校正在加强孤独等心理健康问题的应对工作,她的项目旨在帮助处于情感挣扎中的学生,为其中的表率。Extended, elaborate freshmen orientation schedules are another intended prophylactic against loneliness, which is a common reason for dropping out. And as Lawrence Biemiller recently noted in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, there’s even a push to place and design freshmen dormitories so that solitary time is minimized and interaction maximized.广泛而详尽的新生引导计划,也是针对孤独的预防措施之一,孤独是退学的一个常见原因。劳伦斯.比米勒(Lawrence Biemiller)在近日发表于《高等教育纪事报》(The Chronicle of Higher Education)的一篇文章中说,有的地方甚至在对新生宿舍进行专门的选址和设计,以尽可能减少独处的时间,增加人际互动。Three new residence halls at Goucher College, one of which opened last fall and two of which are nearing completion, typify this trend. Goucher’s president, José Antonio Bowen, said that the center-of-hall situation of bathrooms, the glass walls of laundry rooms and even the speed of the wireless connection in common areas — much faster than in the rooms — are deliberate pushbacks against forces that can isolate students.古彻学院(Goucher College)是这股潮流的代表,他们新建的三座宿舍楼中的一座已于去年秋天投入使用,剩下两座即将完工。校长何塞.安东尼奥.鲍文(José Antonio Bowen)表示,放在大楼中央的卫生间,洗衣房的玻璃墙,甚至在公用区域的无线网络速度——比宿舍房间内要快很多——都意在减少可能导致学生们互不往来的力量。“Students are arriving on college campuses with all of their high school friends on their phones,” Bowen told me, referring to the technological quirks of today. They too easily substitute virtual interactions for physical ones, withdrawing from their immediate circumstances and winding up lonely as a result.“初到大学校园的学生,手机里装着的都是高中朋友的号码,”鲍文谈到了现今在技术使用上的特点。他们可以轻易地用虚拟互动取代实体互动,将自己从当前的环境中抽离,结果就成了孤家寡人。That’s why the solution isn’t hourly messages from concerned moms and dads, whose stubborn attentiveness, no matter how well meant, can leave their children psychologically frail. Mental health experts and college administrators recommend a more thoughtful organization of campus life and more candid conversations about the tricky transition to college.这就是为什么忧心忡忡的父母每隔一小时发来一条短信是没用的,无论怀着怎样的好意,这种顽固的关心会导致孩子心理脆弱。心理健康专家和大学管理人士建议对校园生活进行更贴心的组织,就从中学到大学的困难过渡展开更坦率的对话。Nguyen, the U.C.L.A. sophomore, said that in her Vietnamese-American family in Southern California, all the talk was of doing well enough in high school to get to college and not about the challenges college itself might present. Epstein, the College of Charleston senior, said that his popularity in high school in the suburbs of New York City perhaps distracted him from any awareness that “I was going 700 miles away and being dropped in a place of 10,000 people and wasn’t going to know anybody.” What followed, he added, was “a long battle with anxiety and depression.”UCLA二年级生克拉拉.阮说,高中的时候,在南加州的越南裔亲戚们只会告诉她要好好学习然后上大学,但很少谈到大学可能会带来的挑战。查尔斯顿学院高年级生爱泼斯坦说,他在纽约市郊的高中很受欢迎,这可能让他一时忘记“我要去700英里外,被扔到一个有一万人的地方,谁也不认识”。随之而来的则是“一场与焦虑和抑郁的漫长搏斗”。One of the narrators of Tom Perrotta’s superb new novel, “Mrs. Fletcher,” is a former high school lacrosse star who arrives on campus “after all the endless buildup” and develops a “queasy feeling” that his world has become at once more populous and a whole lot colder. “There I was, people-watching and eating my omelet,” he says of one morning in the dining hall, “and the next thing I knew my throat swelled up. And then my eyes started to water.”在汤姆.佩罗塔(Tom Perrotta)的精彩新书《弗莱彻夫人》(Mrs. Fletcher)中,有一位叙事者在高中是袋棍球明星,来到大学前“经历了无休止的期望值累积”,却最终形成一种“反胃的感觉”,因为在他的世界里人越聚越多,却越来越冷。“我在那里,观察着人们,吃着我的煎蛋饼,”他说起一天早晨在食堂的经历时表示,“可一转眼,也不知怎的,我的嗓子哽咽了,接着我的双眼开始湿润。”We urge new college students not to party too hard. We warn them of weight gain (“the freshman 15”). We also need to tell them that what’s often behind all that drinking and eating isn’t celebration but sadness, which is normal, survivable and shared by many of the people around them, no matter how sunny their faces or their Facebook posts.我们呼吁大学新生不要去太多派对。我们警告他们当心体重增加(所谓“入学年15磅”)。我们还需要告诉他们,在那些暴饮暴食的背后不是欢庆,而是悲伤,这是正常的,能挺过去,身边很多人都是这样,不管他们的脸或脸书上的笑容何其灿烂。