Friday, December 14, 2007

underachieving is so attractive

I've noticed a trend in the dining halls, on the way to class, during momentary lulls in lecture: students really like to talk, to boast, about how little sleep they get.

It might make sense if, like the Japanese, we were bragging about how very hardworking we were (see BBC's mention of inemuri, 居眠り, apparently the Japanese custom whereby the higher-ups of a company are permitted, even encouraged, to doze off during meetings, as a sign of how hard and how late they've been working the night before).

However, what I hear, as I dig into my shepherd's pie, is not: "Man, I stayed up all night making sure my essay was perfect! My fingers were literally glued to my keyboard!"
It's not even: "I spent all morning finishing up my calc homework so I could catch office hours this afternoon."

Instead, people proclaim, "I have an essay due in less than 24 hours... and I haven't started it."
They loudly confide, "I didn't study at all for that last physics test."
They realize, "I'm not going to be able to sleep at all tonight, thanks to my procrastination."

It's really bizarre that we should be so proud of the time we spend playing solitaire, or checking facebook, or just not doing work in general. Is it some sort of machismo, the new spitting contest to see who can slack off the most, then suffer the most because of it? Is it an excuse for poor performance - I stayed up all night watching YouTube videos, give me a break for failing that chem exam! Is it a plea for sympathy? A cry for acknowledgment?

I can't pretend to understand it, but I have to plea guilty to it myself. Look guys, it's 4AM!


A Preceptor said...

And trust me, we can tell

Anonymous said...

some people exaggerate the amount of time spent not doing work so that when their grades come back, they either have already established that their bad grade is attributed to non-work, or their good grade is attributed to being too smart to need work.

Anonymous said...

LOL. Here's another explanation: humans are particularly ego-centric and believe that their own ills are the most relevant and most people also don't take perspective into account. "No sleep" means different things to different people--for some it can mean seven hours (I kid you not) while other people take it more literally.