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Worst for procrastination: Facebook or Dave?

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Pili takes a trip up Denial...

Jen gets a little too caught up in 'Friendface' in season 3 of 'The IT Crowd'

As I sit here about to start writing my first piece for Shadowlocked, I have both my Facebook logged in and open on my laptop and the TV on and tuned to Dave (a particularly hilarious QI episode, in case you were wondering). Foolish girl! How am I ever going to get any work done?

The thing about Facebook, or any social networking website for that matter, is that it is truly addictive and hooks users just like any obsession. There are cases in the US of people being admitted to rehab with Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD). Seriously. Although, I must admit I can see how it happens. As soon as you sit down to be even the slightest bit productive – BAM! – ‘Paul commented on your photo’ or ‘John wrote on your Wall’ - and before you realise it, your concentration is out the window, down the road and round the corner.

The underlying fascination with Facebook lies in the exciting, sneaky and ultimately anonymous ability to look (or, to use the correct term, 'stalk' fellow users). These individuals aren’t necessarily even friends or folks you know. I, for one, have often found myself browsing a friend’s brother’s ex-girlfriend’s mum’s new partner’s dog and feeling rather ridiculous when I snap back to reality and wonder how or why I was looking at their profile. I know of fellow students who have wasted literally hours of precious essay-writing time ‘Facebooking’ and procrastinating to their heart’s content only to remember that they have done a big fat zero all day and that they will have to pull an all-nighter in order to make their deadline.

"At least you are on the computer and you probably have a Word document open and maybe the title is written. And that counts for something – right?"

Towards the end of an academic semester, the sheer amount of Facebook status updates proclaiming ‘I hate essays/exams and can’t be bothered to write it/revise’ or words to that effect are testament to the wasted time spent on Facebook. Distractions come in all forms including poking, messaging, wall writing, photo browsing, mutual friend-stalking, relationship status analysing and the liking of witty pages. However, it has been argued by various friends of mine, that when procrastinating on Facebook what matters is that at least you are on the computer and you probably have a Word document open and maybe the title is written. And that counts for something – right?

On the other hand Dave, and television more generally, distracts your fickle attention away from the laptop screen altogether. Dara O’Briain and Jeremy Clarkson make irresistible viewing and you find yourself mesmerised by 2003 repeats of Have I Got News for You, which, although admittedly is still very funny seven years later, has, in that time, somewhat lost its relevancy. Argumental, QI, Total Wipeout USA and Would I Lie to You? are all major villains in the fight against procrastination, and I fear that amongst my peers they often triumph over productivity.

Paul Merton in 'Have I Got News For You'But Dave does have a potential advantage over Facebook. It can be argued by the serial procrastinator that its content is somewhat intellectual and - at a stretch - could even be considered ‘revision’. Allow me to demonstrate - for the Politics students, like myself, comes Have I Got News for You, for Business students there is Dragon’s Den and the Engineering students have entertainment in the form of Top Gear and its frankly rubbish rival Fifth Gear. The Science students are placated with James May’s experimenting series on everything from the moon to toys, there is something for the Geography lot with Ray Mears’ Extreme Survival and the Music students can revise with Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

I retaliate to my nagging parents that ‘Of course, Mock the Week is revision. It’s recapping the political year in a funny yet informative way. It’s the best way to learn!’ My mum does not buy this argument of course, but I’ve justified it to myself and on procrastinating I go. Another advantage of Dave over Facebook is the advert breaks which snap you briefly out of the hypnosis and (maybe) start you doing something vaguely productive.

It is weak, I admit.

Whichever way you look at it, both Facebook and Dave must account for millions of wasted work hours nationwide. When a human brain has to make the choice between feeding its inner curiosity and socialising on Facebook or giggling at Stephen Fry berating Alan Davis on Dave, and concentrating and using brain power to think creatively or to remember information - guess which one it chooses? But it would be easy to blame the engrossing nature of Facebook and the mesmerising shows on Dave as responsible for a lack of productivity. It is probably fairer to say that a lack of interest or desire to complete the necessary project is to blame and the internet and TV just facilitate the distraction. Because let’s be fair, I have managed to write this article with both distractions at close quarters. I may have done it faster without them, but I got there in the end and that’s all that really matters. Pili likes this.


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