A column about life at Milken, by Eliana Steinberg.

You should probably be doing something else as you’re reading this—preparing for a test, answering an email, sleeping. Just not sitting there staring blankly, with your legs crossed and a hand near your mouth.

Over the years the television characters have disappeared from the front design of our backpacks, and vocab worksheets have been replaced with research papers. Our nights are dominated by homework and notifications, as we attempt to pacify the demands of both our teachers and our peers.

Yes, our course-loads are heavy and our homework time consuming, but it is our own struggle with self-control that is truly tormenting us. Each afternoon we’re tempted with pings and vibrations from the world outside of an 8.5 by 11 sheet of paper. While we brainstorm for our essays and plan for our presentations, we are simultaneously weaving in and out of our social networking sites and chat boxes. We are constantly pulled away from our work by the single thought of “maybe I’m needed” somewhere… on the Internet. And off we go! Gliding through new tabs, our faces are awash of white light, our mouths gaping as the hours pass and we procrastinate.

I’m sure I learned that word before I could spell it. As elementary schoolers, in our light-up shoes, we boasted about our Neopets and the hours we spent procrastinating on the site the night before. This word has served as a unifier of the pissed off and under-worked students everywhere. Our afternoons are robbed by our obsessions, and our homework is often left untouched.

Recently I downloaded the “Self Control” application for my computer. The website I got it from was sketchy. And at the start of the download I was sure that I had just willingly inflicted my computer with a virus. The application blocks a list of websites that you designate for your desired amount of time, up to 24 hours. The attack against procrastination is abrasive, but it seems to work (and my computer still functions). I’ve realized that the title is misleading, as no real self-control is exercised in this process. It’s my computer doing the programming, not any amount of inner strength that prohibits me from accessing Pitchfork and Youtube.

Although, I have been able to implement my own form of self-control by eliminating the TV shows with climaxes focused around prom. Now I’m left with only “Bored to Death” on Sunday nights and reruns of “Arrested Development.”

It’s no longer a question of how difficult the work is, but how much self-restraint we must exercise to get it all done. Most of the time, our procrastination is enjoyed through forms of media. Although, with our backs hunched in front of our screens and our eyes burning, we’re in the same amount of pain as we would be if we were attempting to conquer the quadratic formula. But we’re choosing to download music rather than handcuffing ourselves to our assignment books. When we’re inflicting this upon ourselves and draining our own time, we are willing to suffer the educational consequences.

We’re in that transition phase between the novelty of Vicki’s Monday Mexican menu wearing off and the block schedule beginning to make sense. So delete your bookmarks while you still can. Get a little too hung up on cellular respiration. The constant “eep” has disappeared from our libraries; shalom to the seniors of 2010. And I have discovered that those festering private back rooms are available for our use whenever. As hard as it is, you’ll feel better if you go offline.

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