It’s exam season for campuses around South Africa and the struggle is real. It’s a time of high pressure, stress and the need to cram in all those readings you promised yourself you’d keep on top of at the start of the year (lol). But as you’ve realised, this is easier said than done.
Once you give in to the urge to procrastinate, you tend to find yourself engaged in some of the most arb activities, and in the weirdest places on the internet. Engaging in procrastination is a bit like Dante’s descent to the underworld. It’s a dark journey through various stages of unproductivity, taking you ever closer towards the lowest pits of despair – but with cute cat videos along the way.
Level 1 – logging off of social media only to immediately log on again in a never-ending loop
Social media is part and parcel of 21st-century living. But when we’re procrastinating, our obsession with it takes on concerning new forms – like logging out of Facebook on your laptop only to immediately log in again on your phone. You find yourself stalking the most random people, and closely following individuals you genuinely have no real interest in, yet religiously wait their new posts to update your feed.
You know you’ve begun your descent to lower levels when see that you’re involved in a repetitive dance of checking Facebook, then Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp and then back to Facebook to see if there’ve been any updates since you checked ten minutes ago.
Level 2 – becoming a Wikipedia expert on things that have absolutely no relevance to your life
While studying you end up having to look a few things up to get a basic grasp of a topic so, inevitably, you end up on Wikipedia. But on the relevant page, something interesting catches your eye not directly related to your coursework. You figure a five minute read-through won’t really distract you that much – and technically you are still learning right? An hour and 12 links later you find yourself an expert on pre-Socratic philosophical thought even though you’re writing botany in two days. Wikipedia has some really weird pages and is a black hole of information, but it’s still not the lowest level.
Level 3 – getting lost in the black hole of YouTube where funny videos, movie trailers and mediocre vloggers dwell
At this point you’ve given up (temporarily) and decided you need a break from the workload – something to distract you and calm you down before you hit the books again. A few videos on YouTube sound like they’ll hit the spot. You start out listening to some of your favourite music, laugh a bit on College Humor and check out a few local vloggers – and by “a few”, I mean all of them and all their videos…ever.
Level four – cleaning and organising things that don’t need cleaning or organising
So the internet has proved itself better than you and you’re clearly not going to work now, so you might as well be productive, and clean your room and straighten up your desk. And while you’re at it, you rate you might as well sort out the kitchen, maybe sweep the sitting area, wipe the bathroom, dust the curtains and chairs, wipe all the tables and fix your desk again just in case it got dirty again while you were gone. Were you always this domesticated?
Level five – just one more episode….
What could possibly be a better time to start a new and gripping TV series than the middle of studying for upcoming exams? I mean, now that you’ve given up on your prospects of developing a professional career and have come to accept that you clearly can’t adult, you might as well indulge in American Gods, Uzalo and your (not-so-secret) secret obsession with Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
But, of course, these gripping shows with top-notch plots and drama are highly addictive and can’t be sated with only one episode. You need to watch at least two or three, or four…or the whole season.
Level 6 – philosophising about life and considering how you got to this point
As you lie down, praying for divine intervention to grant you the willpower to carry on, you start contemplating life, your place in it and the purpose of existence. You come to some deep and profound conclusions, and consider switching to a philosophy major, but then remember you aren’t a white male and would actually like to be employed as a graduate. It’s time to get up and get to work… in a bit… after a little more reflecting… and maybe a nap.
Level 7 – procrastinating by reading satirical articles about procrastinating
Congratulations, you’ve finally done it, you’ve reached the lowest level. Achievement unlocked! You’re procrastinating by reading about procrastination – how incredibly meta of you! There’s not much more beyond this point so you can consider yourself a procrastination master. We’d give you a certificate to celebrate, but unfortunately this isn’t really a qualification – unlike, you know, the degree you should be studying for.