Saturday, September 20, 2008

August issue of Rare Magazine

August was the "back to school" issue of Rare Magazine.  I wrote about students today and all the distractions they have to deal with. It's not easy. Here is what I wrote for last months issue.  jb

I imagine that most students today are tired of hearing how hard it “used to be”. “We didn’t have computers, the internet, blah, blah, blah”. I’ll admit. I fantasize about what it would be like to be in college today. Could you imagine the possibilites? If you are about my age, you remember that we didn’t have cell phones and we would sign up for computer lab just to write a paper. Now, your syllabus and class notes are all online. Your fellow students are easy to track down via myspace and facebook. Answers are just a google search away and getting laid is just a few flirty text messages in front of you. It’s the best of both worlds, your school work is easier and your social life it lined up for you online. Right?


Wrong! I’ve come full circle on my opinion of students today. You guys have it rough. Much harder than any of us could imagine. I really started thinking about all of the things that are out there to distract you from your studies. I realize that had those things been at my disposal when I was a student, accomplishing anything would be impossible. I was a bad enough student back in the day. To try to pull it off today… impossible.


Let’s start with all the distractions on your phone. The more and more phones become like computers, the more trouble you’re in. The time wasting, the web browsing. I can’t imagine how much time the average student spends text messaging with their friends. Email is becoming the standard on a phone/pda. When are you ever alone? Never. You’re always a buzzing phone away from catching up on gossip or being invited out with friends. To me, the biggest distraction from being a good student would be text message flirting. I would have been ALL OVER THIS. Thank goodness I’m now old enough, married and have some success at managing my libido. At 21, it would have been GAME ON. If any girls were foolish enough to give me their cell phone numbers, the text message flirting would have started at about 6pm and not quit until I found one of them at at a bar having had too much to drink. Vodka and text messaging are a wonderful and amazing combination, but bad for studying.

T.V. has hit a whole new level of preoccupation. I don’t recall television being that big of a factor as I was growing up. It was nice, sometimes entertaining, but it didn’t posses all the guilty pleasures it does today. Everyone I know has at least one guilty pleasure reality show. Have you noticed how many of these shows are targeted right at high school and college students? Back in the day I had to have my fill of Letterman or SNL, but these days, who can’t fall victim to a marathon of The Hills, Miami Ink, The Girls Next Door, America’s Next Top Model, Celebrity Intervention, Rock of Love or I Love New York? T.V. has gotten so meaningless and trashy, but undeniably pleasurable, definitely a distraction from Biology.

I don’t even know where to start with computers. I think we all know what a huge diversion they are to every day living. We’re all lead to believe that this might be the greatest, most essential tool for a student today, but it’s probably the opposite. I think back to the people and ran around with in college. Had they had the internet at their disposal like students today, most of them would have never graduated. I would say that at least a quarter of them would have quit going to class and took up day trading full time. Another quarter would have been too tired to go to class because they were up all night gambling online. Another twenty five percent of the people I knew in college would have been starting an online business of some sort, in an effort to get rich quick. The rest of the guys I knew would have been addicted to internet porn and never left the house. Think about that the next time you set foot in an all-male dorm.


My point is. Think about how much time you waste with your phone, television and computers. Imagine having that pressure when you were a student. Throw on top of that the same distractions we had when we were student, primarily alcohol and sex. You still have the age old pressures of Cain and Ables, Posse East and Sixth Street. How does anyone ever make it to class or how does a research paper ever get written?


I commend any of you that are reading this and able to focus on your studies long enough to make the grades. I really don’t know how you do it. There are far too many distractions in day to day life for ANY student to ever succeed. In fact, any student who is completely able to focus on their studies gives me the creeps. There must be something wrong with you because our technological advances are just plain fun, dirty and time wasting! Next time you are thinking about studying a little English literature, instead try a little myspace, facebook, jump on ebay. When you research paper is due Psych class, instead see what’s up on linkedin, Perez Hilton, or punch up a quick “casual encounter” on Craiglist. Got lab or group study time? Fire up the Playstation or Wii.

If any of you students are getting a hard time and a lecture from your parents about how easy you have it and how it “used to be”, try this. Grab you mom by the arm, march her over the computer and take her to or even worse, and ask her if she could focus on reading a chapter of Anthropology. If your dad gives you the same grief, grab him by the ear, pull him over to the computer and show him and ask him “Did you have THIS when you were in school?” I think they they’ll understand.



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