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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Procrastinators: Stop screwing yourselves

    By slacking off in our studies, we sabotage our own futures and contribute to the decay of American education. But we do a much greater disservice to ourselves by ruining our opportunity to have a unique educational experience.

    After a lengthy and well-deserved winter break, we return refreshed and energized for another five months of classes.

    For many of us, however, the upcoming semester is not a chance to learn, but rather an optimization problem. It’s an opportunity to see how little work we can do while achieving the highest grades possible.

    This approach to education is so widespread that character flaws such as sloth, apathy and disorganization have become virtues worthy of praise. So-called slackerdom has become a cultural phenomenon in and of itself, baffling educators, employers and taxpayers alike.

    For an extreme example of this cultural phenomenon in practice, check the Dec. 11 edit of the Wikipedia article for “”slacker.”” The editors of the article elevated themselves to a hitherto unseen standard of preening behavior, and the article was replete with arguments that slackerdom makes you a better person. According to the article, the term “”slacker”” is no longer a pejorative. Rather, it signifies “”a complimentary, cerebral quality of an unconventional person.””

    Slackerdom has successfully been transformed into a sort of counterculture, and a diluted form of this counterculture has seeped down to the masses. UA students are no exception. A search for “”procrastination”” on Facebook reveals 147 UA students and six groups. It’s become a mark of honor to do well in classes while demonstrating no particular drive or effort to succeed, and students routinely mock the “”overachievers”” in their classes who take notes and bother to study.

    It’s plain to see that this ideology will have a negative impact on your future and on the country at large. Suffice it to say that our unhealthy view of academic life probably has something to do with American failures in math, science and other subjects, and it’s a brutal waste of taxpayer money. What’s more, future employers who are at least half a generation separated from us, will not find slackers amusing.

    But most importantly, there’s something stinkingly unwholesome about coming to our institute of higher learning and treating your four years here as game to be “”won”” through the application of minimal effort. Doesn’t this defeat the entire purpose of a university education – to learn something which will benefit you in the “”real world”” or, at the very least, to cultivate your own intellectual interests?

    The most praiseworthy slackers in pop culture – people like Ferris Bueller, Peter Sellers and Bart Simpson – are people who rebel against the system of which they’re a part. But if you’re enrolled in a university, you probably intend to remain a part of “”the system”” for most of your life.

    College slackerdom is thus a paradox, and this reveals it as nothing more than a form of self-destruction. Some people enjoy damaging their bodies and minds by consuming unreasonable amounts of alcohol or drugs. The rest of us apparently enjoy damaging our futures by not applying ourselves to the fullest possible extent. We’ve been suckered into this pseudo-masochistic worldview in full awareness of the consequences, and we have only ourselves to blame.

    There is a bright side, though: escaping the cycle of slackerdom is easy enough. Remember that, while it’s sometimes impressive to slide through a class with minimal effort, it’s much more impressive if we work our way through with maximal effort. This implies taking full advantage of the available resources, including your own time and your professors’ time.

    It’s no coincidence that the most enjoyable classes you have here will probably also be the ones in which you learn the most. Procrastination, apathy and laziness are self-evidently ugly, and the so-called “”slacker culture”” which extols these values represents the most bizarre form of self-indulgence. There are plenty of good reasons to buckle down and genuinely apply yourself.

    But above all, remember that if you fail to do so, you’re only screwing yourself.

    Taylor Kessinger wrote this column in twenty minutes and is a junior majoring in math, philosophy and physics.

    He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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