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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Pants Optional

At some point in our lives weve all heard that line that adults (the real ones, with jobs and houses and stuff) use to describe a student: “Hes smart, he just doesnt apply himself. This brings to mind that stoner kid who owned the SATs because stoners are either really smart or really dumb. Or maybe those words describe you, because its the perfect excuse for your GPA and no one ever wants to admit that theyre stupid.

Confession: I am a slacker. I highlight. I skim. My parents think I study more than I actually do. In all honesty, the last book I ever actually read word-for-word was The Great Gatsby in tenth grade, because I think its actually good. I never would have been able to stomach reading Pride and Prejudice line by line. Reading Shakespeares English definitely requires a little more attention than the modern English that were used to. Reading my SOC reader is like using a highlighter to dig out golden nuggets of information.

The reason why I sometimes neglect to meticulously read my assignments boils down to a simple, rational fact: I do not find them interesting. That doesnt mean that I am not compelled by the subject matter; after all, I did have the luxury of choosing my own major. But I dont enjoy reading 30 pages of boring to come to either a) a conclusion that doesnt really exist or b) a conclusion that is unremarkable common knowledge.

Its kind of sad how many articles out there sound like they were written by some chump with a Ph. D and a huge thesaurus. Reexamining the essays you wrote for college applications serve as a somewhat painful token of what happens when people use big words to show that they are more intelligent than they actually are. Even if you are intelligent and use the words correctly, theres always the fact that superfluity is unnecessary and kind of annoying. Theres no real point in taking 50 pages to state what you could say in five. It kills more trees and takes away precious Wii time.

Heres an example from a John Vasquez of Vanderbilt University:

“These suggestions merely scratch the surface and are meant to show that the territorial explanation can provide relevant and new approaches to peace for the post-Cold war era, making us aware that both the pitfalls of past practices and opportunities for peaceful solutions that we may not have considered because our latent theories of the causes of war did not recognize the importance and centrality of territorial disputes.

He could just as easily say that his explanation might be useful in pointing out things that have been overlooked before.

Its not just a matter of language. Its the content as well. Too many Odyssey-long articles ultimately conclude that there is no firm statement to be made and the whole thing was just a collection of organized rants. Often, these revelations are mitigated with the ideas that maybe in a certain situation blah blah blah might possibly be valid.

Then there are the rants that make conclusions that Miley Cyrus could have told you, something like “less-educated people are more likely to work blue-collar jobs or “racial profiling is bad. It would be so much easier for everyone if the scholarly folk could just come out and say it. I swear I wouldnt think them any less scholarly.

I attribute this impatience in part to the technologically influenced natures of us Gen Y kids. Microwaves give us what we want ASAP. Neato CGI explosions in action films work overtime to capture our interest. This ultimately means that we get what we want when we want it and our interest/attention is harder to hold. Reading long dull passages in order to find the answer doesnt exactly fit in with that. I mean, really, were the kind of people who make up abbreviations for everything like “OMG and “G2G – we like to cut corners.

The naysayers, no doubt, are surely rolling their eyes at my limited vocabulary and calling me out as a whiny, lazy simpleton whos just too inane to read at all. Thats not true; I was once Little Miss Bookworm and still read recreationally. But if thats the perception I project, I guess Ill have to stick with it. Thats me, Michelle Rick: Giving idiots a voice since 1987.

 

MICHELLE RICK is keenly aware that you fine people probably skimmed this column. Share the last good book you were assigned and actually read at marick@ucdavis.edu.

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