Brave New World

Testing, testing, one two three…

This site began with a simple idea. Everyone procrastinates from work at some point or other. Let’s face it: we NEED to. While some people may be commended for their powers of concentration and ability to focus on important tasks at hand, others are not so, ah, disciplined to be able to do so very consistently. I’m firmly included in the latter category, particularly when I’m unmotivated and/or uninterested in what I’m working on.

What’s less clear is what makes us choose the stuff we procrastinate with. Sure, usually it’s “easy content,” something that will provide a quick mental break. Facebook, YouTube (a particular vice of mine), web comics, other people’s blogs…all of these things are interesting, usually funny, usually not very mentally taxing. And that’s just adhering to the internet. Reality TV, sports channels, sitcom reruns, movies we’ve already seen…clearly TV and Netflix also provide wonderful hours of unproductivity.

It’s not just about procrastination. All of the activities I’ve mentioned are great things to do when we just want to unwind. I find few things more comforting than coming home, kicking off my shoes, making a cup of tea, and watching CSI for the next hour (or two, or three). We don’t just go online or watch TV to get away from stuff we have to do, we also surf the web and click that remote to give our brains a “break.”

None of this is new to anybody reading this. I’ve never given it too much thought.

And then I had an interesting argument with my roommate.

This was over a year ago. Both my roommate and I had come home from taxing work days. I had been working at my job on the Freedom Trail (during a hot summer Boston day). I was sweaty, tired, and spent from answering history questions and giving tours all day. My roommate had come home from the research job that she had started relatively recently, and was also beat.

We had agreed we should watch something together that evening. I suggested watching a DVD my mom had just sent me: Swinging Bach, a recording of a concert in Leipzig, Germany, in 2000.  Featuring jazzy, innovative interpretations of various works of the Father of Music, it looked like a good watch, and my mom said I should view it with some good friends, preferably sharing a bottle of wine.

My roommate chafed at the idea. “Um, I’m kind of tired from today, I’d rather watch something I don’t have to think about too much.” She promptly turned on her TV and flipped to the Food Network.

While it was understandable that my roommate just wanted to “unwind” and watch something more casual, I couldn’t forget the incident. My roommate was classically trained in music, so it’s not like the music we’d hear would be “over her head.” And for God’s sake, I was asking to watch a music concert together, not a documentary on the mating habits of African ants.

No one was in the wrong in this circumstance. But it was the first time I really started to think about what we choose to watch or read in our “off time,” and why.

There are definitely times where all I want to do is watch goofy videos on YouTube for a quick laugh. But there are also times I want to learn about other things during that “off-time.” I found that when I was procrastinating from work, it wasn’t always on Facebook: I would troll through The New Yorker online, The New York Times, through specific Wikipedia articles, through other humanities-leaning blogs from people I knew, blogs that I knew would likely feature theater, film, or book reviews. I was still procrastinating from work. But who said I couldn’t learn something in the process?

That’s what gave me the idea of starting this blog. I decided that the time had come to combine all the wonderful procrastination-induced discoveries I made online into an organized site. I would add things I found interesting (when I really should have been working), and write my own comments about them.

I’m not used to writing online, especially knowing it could be read and/or commented on in turn. But as my friends and family know, I can be obnoxiously opinionated (er, passionate) in person; it only follows I should be willing to put those comments online as well. So now I venture into this Brave New World of blogging, interested in the intellectual forays I can make during these off-hours.

Feel free to comment on anything you find interesting. After all: we all know we’re all supposed to be doing something else right now. I promise I won’t tell.

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