I’m as bad at time management as the next undergraduate, but the Internet has ushered in a whole new level of distraction from schoolwork. If you really have to write a paper — as in, it’s due in six hours and you can see the sun coming up and birds chirping, oh, God, no — it’s hard to justify sitting down and watching a full episode of “House” or starting a new campaign in “Call of Duty.” Conversely, it’s incredibly easy to convince yourself that you’ll “only be on Facebook for a minute” or “it’s just a three-minute YouTube video.” Internet procrastination time is measured like dog years; you spend seven times longer wasting time on it than you originally planned.
Most people watch less TV when they get to college. That’s logical. We all have a thousand things going on — sports teams, model government, student-run media, drag shows, drug-fueled orgies — that take up a lot of time. But I find when students do use media, it’s in a purposefully “accidental” way. At least, I think most students do this. It could just be me and my roommate. But I doubt it — in fact, I’m pretty sure all students can’t go 20 minutes into a PowerPoint without checking back into Facebook.
And in this period you have accomplished three things: You haven’t worked a second on your paper, leaving Microsoft Word orphaned and abandoned, softly weeping to itself in your applications folder with nothing but a header and half an introduction paragraph. Secondly, you’ve managed to watch 50 minutes worth of videos featuring cats jumping on toddlers. Enlightenment at its finest. And third, you failed to even procrastinate productively. Cats jumping on babies is all well and good, but if you really wanted to watch “Lost” or “Community” or “Kiefer Sutherland Beats Up Everyone” then you should’ve admitted to yourself, “I will do nothing worthwhile for the next hour,” and just watched something you were planning on watching anyway. Or, you know, write your paper.
I’m completely kidding. Of course you’re not going to write your paper.
It’s much easier and guiltless to procrastinate in three-minute chunks, watching blips of “The Daily Show” and CollegeHumor.com and Lady Gaga’s most recent venture into ludicrous music videos featuring cigarette sunglasses —again, what the expletive? — than it is to dive into a full-length video. But you end up doubling your time spent on TV and media and severing the time spent on things you intend to do and truly want to do.
So enjoy finals week! Tell Jon Stewart I say, “Hi.”
Sarah Kasulke is a freshman television-radio major. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.