There’s a theory that technology eventually subverts whatever rational ends it’s supposed to promote. Grad Cafe seems to have been created to relieve anxiety, either by providing helpful information or just by puncturing the silence that lies between submitting an application and hearing back. Needless to say, it fails miserably. What could be more stressful than a screen full of useless data that one nonetheless feels compelled to master? What is more counterproductive than throwing a grad school applicant with no sense of perspective into an online mosh pit of other grad school applicants with no sense of perspective?

The scrum at the Grad Cafe indicates that my generation’s safe space has been transformed into just another gold ring. As the obsessive chronicle of yeses and noes reveals, the process of finding a masters or doctorate program carries with it a sense of desperation—one actually reminiscent of the job search. In this rat race, the ivory tower morphs from a reassuring backup plan into a source of social and existential terror via its mysterious admissions policies. And the manic scrutiny to which sites like the Grad Cafe submit such policies only aggravates the problem.