Shut Up

It’s embarrassing how disrespectful students are these days, myself included. I’ve led the noisy rat-pack in the library many times before. I know what it feels like to receive the death stare and I sure know what it feels like to give it. If you’re bold enough to talk loudly in study areas about how drunk you were this weekend, you better believe I will be bold enough to tell you to shut up. Like I said, I’m no studying saint; My ideally quiet study spaces inevitably unravel to full blown conversations or mindless web surfing.

The bridge, the common room, the library, If you can study there, I can be distracted there. More often than not, my studying is done in groups, typically friends or cute girls who believed my story about being way behind on the coursework.

That never is a lie I suppose.

Truthfully, if I see someone else is studying, I either want to be near them because they are smarter or I think they know as little as I do and I want them to share my misery. Also, I lied about the cute girls things, but ladies if you’re reading this I’m available to study.

…I am also available to “get distracted”.

#shamelessattempts at both humor and companionship.

I find it interesting that knowing the inevitable failure of study groups, time and again I choose that unproductive setting. It’s the 4 inches I carry in my pants.

“What” -You. Or did you take a break to check Instagram before you read this digression?

Maybe you carry something a little larger in your pants, closer to 5 or 6 inches. Most Androids are 5.5.

They say, “size doesn’t matter, it is what you can do with it”. That is exactly the problem. Guys (and girls) can wield that 4–6 inches with pride, controlling their world with the simple touch of a finger. It doesn’t matter anymore where I study or who I am with, but rather who I am not with that I compulsively communicate with through technology. We can create, connect to, write, surf, check, re-check, re-re-check and re-re-re check media. The problem is responsibly managing the power we carry around in our pockets. A good first step is remembering to always use a screen protector.

See, I’m not always distracted; college has taught me a few things.

I think we have reached the limit for sexual innuendos in a writing piece, so I’m going to drop the balls on this whole penis joke.

The CELL PHONE is the problem. I have preferences for studying; I generally like warm, quiet rooms; I prefer studying at night; I like to have a hot beverage, preferably coffee, and I only study in comfortable clothes. When we are talking about how successful my studying is, these factors matter minimally.

What matters is the presence of technology. Whether I am wearing comfy jeans or ass-less chaps, drinking a hot, black cup of coffee or the devil’s piss, when my phone is there I am going to be distracted.

There is research that will back me up on this one. In the NBC article “Students can’t resist distraction for two minutes… and neither can you”, Bob Sullivan cites the work of independent research studies that explore the dynamic between distraction and technology. Granted, their findings are considered developing research, but across the board it can be concluded that the presence of technology negatively affects distraction levels, concentration, and memory.

Sullivan quotes Annie Paul, a brain expert, saying, “Multitasking while doing academic work — which is very, very common among young people — leads to spottier, shallower, less flexible learning”. Youth are not capable multi-taskers, but hopelessly distracted learners.

Another article that summarizes a number of studies on distracted learning, published by Journalist Research, notes the other detriments technology can have on learning. The author, John Wihbey, explains that distracted students have lower GPA’s, retain information more slowly and have a number of learning deficits on account of their multitasking.

Admittedly, I have fallen victim to the perils of distracted learning and the only person to blame is myself. A great study environment doesn’t rid itself of technology; it uses technology appropriately. Computers and phones put answers at our fingertips; they allow us to write papers, do research, solve problems and organize our lives. We choose to use them as distractions.

Personally, I don’t have the self-discipline to not check my phone while studying and often times I force myself to leave it in the dorm room. The first step to any recovery is admitting the problem exists and sadly, I admit that I am a distracted learner. I might retain a few extra definitions by wearing comfy clothes, drinking a hot cup of coffee, and surrounding myself with a group of quiet friends, but it’s clear that my most effective learning environment focuses on the more important issue of technology. Having technology present is the difference between completing and not completing the work.

Maybe there will be a day that my 4 (8–9) inches can be back in my hand while I study. Actually… that is a “stickier” distraction that I will have to discuss at a different time. (Take a second to appreciate how clever that was). Until then, the only person I need to kick under the table, give the death stare, or whisper “shut up” to is myself.

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