Dealing with distractions in college

James O’Hearn discusses dealing with distractions as a college student.


John Buchanan

John Buchanan/THE CHIMES

James O'Hearn, Writer

Photo Illustration by John Buchanan/THE CHIMES

I’m sure that all of us have, at one point or another, encountered some form of distraction while doing homework. This was brought home to me recently when I was idly scrolling through and encountered a meme of the most tnteresting man in the world. He was pictured sitting behind his iconic Dos Equis bottle, with the caption, “I’m 99% sure that 98% of us should be doing homework right now.” Let’s face it: Those of us who have homework that needs to be typed out do it on a computer, right? The computer generally has Internet — always the bane of the college student.

There are so many websites and distractions out there! We can explain away YouTube by saying how many educational videos there are, or that we need to watch a video for a class. But just after you finish a video, there’s always one interesting-looking video in the “suggested videos” line. From there on, you might as well go ahead and subscribe your soul to Tobuscus, TomSka, collegehumor, RoosterTeeth and all the rest of the pundits and humorists.

Then there are the memes. Shut-Up-I’m-Talking, memebase. memecenter and LOLwithme — every one of those websites can be as deadly as a proton down the ventilation shaft for a student who’s slightly bored. You’ll think to himself, “It’s okay, I’ll be able to distract myself for a couple of minutes … I deserve a break!” Don’t doubt me on this, take my word for it — I just spent a half hour on them. Even though the various catz, bad luck Brians and especially naïve college freshman memes rarely elicit more than a sideways smirk at their antics, there’s certainly an addictive nature to them, no denying it.

How can we stop this madness? College students do have homework to do, after all, and we can’t keep putting it off indefinitely. Heck, even Torrey students have to turn in those pull questions eventually! Pretty much the only way to stop this is willpower and sheer determination. If you don’t actually want to stop these habits, you’ll keep going back to them, over and over, and end up realizing it’s one in the morning and you haven’t actually done anything yet. It’s hard to actually focus on what we need to do. Learning new habits is hard. It takes time — never something a college student willingly gives up — and incentive to change. That incentive generally takes the form of some dramatic event that shocks or scares us into the needed change. For me it was sleeping through a class three times in a row because I was so tired that laying down for a half-hour nap turned into five hours.

Yes, it’s hard, and that scare will always be unpleasant. It’s needed, though. Try getting to bed at a reasonable hour, not constantly trolling to get one more soulless laugh. Most of the things we let ourselves be distracted by aren’t even that funny or interesting — they’re just enough to hold our attention. It’s like eating one more potato chip. I think it’s time to end this. We need to be able to focus — learning is why we’re here, after all, and we’re not here to learn about Rick Astley. Who’s he, you ask? Allow me to sing you the song of my people …  Actually, why don’t you look up this video on YouTube by a guy named Tobuscus about Farmville, it pretty much applies to what I’m saying. Heh … Wow, his videos are good … Ooh, new playlist? Don’t worry — I won’t be a minute!

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