BNOC Culture

NICK CORDINGLY bemoans the rise of the ‘big name’.

ADC ambition Blues BNOC debate Footlights nick cordingly

What is a BNOC? I would hope that most people have absolutely no idea. I certainly didn’t until a few months ago when a friend of mine at the Other Place referred to trying to become one.

A BNOC, for those of you lucky enough to have not encountered the term, is a ‘Big Name on Campus’ i.e. a person who has a certain level of fame within their university such that people who they’re not actually friends with have heard of them.

How does one become a BNOC? Well there are multiple ways – become heavily involved in student politics or protest. Speak at the Union at every opportunity. Work in student media, or join the Footlights. Even joining Twitter is enough (anyone who is ANYONE in this university is on Twitter, handy tip).

I very briefly became perhaps an MNOC, a medium name of campus, last year for about a week when I wrote a controversial and rather misjudged piece here on the Tab about lad culture. My main experience of it was receiving dozens of scathing comments on the article, which wasn’t particularly fun. I’m pleased to have disappeared back into utter obscurity.

So the key question is: WHY would anyone desire such a level of fame, or indeed infamy? I think we all perhaps understand the desire to have 15 minutes of fame, for people to know who you are is most likely a bit exciting.

But for many of those who seek BNOC status I think it’s more than this. For these are the people who come to Cambridge certain they are going to be prime minister. Or the editor of the Sun. Or an Oscar winner. Those terrifyingly motivated people with the slightly crazy eyes that one meets occasionally in this university.

The ones who basically see this entire 800-year-old educational institution as one big networking opportunity. They are the aspirational BNOCs who need to be noticed NOW so that they can build on this momentum and get into the public eye – the REAL one outside of this small town – as soon as possible, so that they can achieve their 10 year plans for world domination.

I’m sure these people are a tiny minority here. I’m sure the majority of people who become well-known in this university by various means do it just because they’re passionate about what they’re doing. And most of the times I’ve heard the phrase ‘BNOC’ it’s been used ironically. But for those who it isn’t – please calm down and chill out a bit.

Being a ‘BNOC’ is really nothing important in the grand scheme of things. Most people really don’t care about it, and I’m pretty certain neither do future employers. Maybe just sit back and enjoy yourself. Who knows, you might even learn something.