Cornell has afforded me many opportunities so far. I got here just last fall, and my cornell.edu email address has already made me completely reevaluate what I consider a “good” GPA, taught me how to function at almost full capacity running on only three hours of sleep, allowed me to meet some kid from New Zealand who really likes sheep and landed me a prestigious internship as a busboy this past summer.
Another thing that Cornell has given me is Internet speed I didn’t even know was possible. Initially that seemed really good. I would be able to get research done for my project team much faster. I would be able to look up interesting articles to reference for any essays that I had to write in the blink of an eye. And I would be able to broaden the scope of my knowledge in basically any direction I wanted.
Realistically though, with all of the resources available to me on the web, it seems like I spend most of my time on the computer watching videos of cats putting themselves into boxes or looking at other absolutely useless garbage.
For example, it is 2:00 a.m., and I have three problem sets to finish, a prelim to study for and a column due in a few hours (Engineering students are supposed to complain about their workloads, right?), and motivation is not exactly at an all-time high to complete any of those things right now. What is actually happening is I am thinking to myself, “Hey, I wonder how Nicki Minaj got so famous …”
From there, it is just a productivity disaster. I find out from MTV News (an extremely reputable news source) that Nicki Minaj has a bit of a feud with fellow female rapper, Lil’ Kim.
“Didn’t Lil’ Kim and Biggie Smalls doink a while back?”
Yes. They did. And after consulting Biggie Smalls’ Wikipedia page, I see that his Greatest Hits album peaked at only 183 in Canada.
“That seems pretty low. Canadians are probably a little too polite to really get excited about the sometimes misogynistic lyrics of the Notorious B.I.G. I wonder if they ever caught that syrup thief in Quebec.”
As it turns out, authorities are still investigating the theft of 30.4 million dollars worth of maple syrup from a massive maple syrup storage facility in rural Quebec. That is over 10 million pounds of syrup.
“How could someone possibly transport that much syrup? It seems like there is no real way to make off with that much inconspicuously.”
Now it is 3:00 a.m., and I am no closer to finishing any of my work. That was a full hour filled with Nicki Minaj and syrup thieves.
I know I’m not the only one. Take a stroll through Mann Library sometime and you will see countless people doing exactly what I did. Granted they are probably staying on or around Facebook, YouTube or Twitter, but the idea is still the same: The Internet is wasting our time.
It wouldn’t be a huge problem if it weren’t for the fact that I will never get the time I spend on the web back. The 38 seconds I sink into watching the “Best Cry Ever” are gone forever, and I can’t imagine looking back 30 years down the road and thinking to myself, “Thank goodness I decided to watch all of those cat videos on the Internet when I was in college.” I will clearly have made a few wrong turns in the course of my life if that thought ever occurs to me.
I am not suggesting that Cornell take away our Internet access. It is extremely useful when used correctly, but there is something to be said about “unplugging” from the world for an hour or two once a day. Think about life without cell phones or laptops. It would be just like the ’80’s — and the ’80’s were definitely the best decade (or at least a close second to the 1340s). Think about all the good things that happened two decades before the new millennium (and try to ignore the advent of drug violence, most of the music and the constant nuclear paranoia).
It isn’t necessary to chuck your phone or computer off the suspension bridge. Just make sure next time that you are doing homework, you are focused on your problem set, essay or prelim, and not how Nicki Minaj relates to the syrup version of The Italian Job or sometimes just called The Canadian Job. Leave your laptop in your backpack or your room when you go to the library. Turn off your cell phone until you finish the work you need to do. I think you’ll find that you are able to finish all of your work a lot faster and retain more of the information you use that way. It is time to unplug, Cornell.
Plus, that video of the bulldog jumping on the trampoline will still be there in an hour or two. And it will still be just as brilliant as ever.
Christo Eliot is a sophomore in the College of Engineering. He may be reached at email@example.com. The Tale of the Dingo at Midnight appears alternate Thursdays this semester.