The Eighth Page

Study: 87 Percent of People Don’t Care How Your Summer Was

After a multi-million dollar, six-year study, a group of scientists at Duke University have concluded that 87% of their subjects couldn’t care less how another person’s summer vacation was. The project was designed to examine the ubiquitous question frequently asked by students to fill what would otherwise be awkward silences in conversations. “The study indicates that the question is most commonly asked to an acquaintance or individual the subject is somewhat friendly with,” said researcher and Duke graduate student Ron Jameson. “Typically the two people involved in the interchange haven’t seen each other all summer, and the question is asked with a relatively high level of apathy approximately 87 percent of the time.” According to Jameson, roughly 8,600 high school and college students were surveyed in their first week back on campus. The study found that the question was generally asked in passing or in social situations that were difficult to escape easily, like sitting in a dining hall or a dorm room. The results surprised many in the scientific community. “We were shocked,” said head researcher and Duke Sociology professor Harold R. Neilsen. “When people asked me how my summer vacation was back when I was in school, I thought they actually cared. I guess no one really gave a crap about my trip to see my Aunt Patty in Bismarck sophomore year. All those laughs I got about her cat Boots’ crazy shenanigans meant nothing. But hey, that’s their loss.” Some were more expectant of the study’s findings. “I know that I don’t really care how someone else’s summer was,” remarked researcher Dan Goldman. “I just ask to fill up space and make conversation. Like I asked Harold [Nielsen] about his family’s trip to Montreal the other day. Did I give a crap about what he said? Of course not. As soon as he started talking, I thought about how many points Chad Ochocinco would rack up for me in fantasy football this week.” Further analysis indicated the use of what the Duke researchers call “supplementary questions” were likely to follow the initial inquiry about a summer vacation. These supplementary questions, typically regarding the difficulty of one’s academic schedule and decoration of one’s dorm room, were asked and listened to with equal amounts of apathy. Included in the 8,600 participants in the study was PA student Eileen Jones ’11. “I thought [the study] was pretty accurate,” said Jones in an interview with the Newsly Times. “When I came back to school, I must have asked 20 people about their summer vacation. Not once did I care about the response.” However, some find the results of the survey a regrettable indication of modern social customs, including Instructor in History Omar Herman. “What we can conclude from this study is that what we’re seeing here is a complete lack of meaningful social interaction,” commented Herman. “When people don’t listen, they aren’t hearing people. And it’s listening and being truly invested in what your friend or colleague has to say that forms the crux of any relationship or conversation.” Herman continued, “It’s true, though. No one really cares about what you did over the summer. Unless you went to Tijuana or something. Then I’m all ears, baby.”