Five people you meet in lecture
The lecture hall. The universal symbol of collegiate education — a motif almost as prevalent as the red solo cup, the universal symbol of “screw you, Mom.” Yes, midway through the semester I have presumed it time to discuss that pesky, bloodsucking parasite on the backside of the unceasing party that is college: learning.
I use the term loosely, of course. “Learning” may be the end goal at these fine institutions, but after a thorough investigation of what really goes on during lectures, I think it is safe to say it is more of an ideal. If the final destination is learning, it would seem the road most students take to get there is very long, very windy and includes more visits to a little place called Facebook than there are rest stops on this side of the Mississippi. Going to Learning, Va. is like going to the dog park: It seems like a nice place in theory, but in reality it’s full of crap.
How do I know this? As a self-pronounced expert sociologist and anthropologist — I attend the University of Virginia, and therefore am automatically an expert in everything, yes? — I have fit almost everyone into types that reflect what kind of student they are when in a lecture hall. I did so while not listening to my psychology professor discuss Freud’s theory of mental energy — something about how the amount is finite?
The irony was not lost on me.
Here are the big five:
1. The “let’s have an intimate online conversation as if other people aren’t sitting right behind me” boy
2. The “I just wrote a short novel” note taker
3. The “eternally searching for cute boots” girl
4. The “shockingly in-depth public Facebook stalker”
5. The “I’m going to climb over you to sit in the middle of the row and then not pay attention” kid
Recognize some of these young scholars? They are some of the most entertaining and most frustrating individuals you’ll ever meet. I was surprised to find myself continually captivated while observing these beasts in their natural habitat.
Though watching “eternally searching” girl scroll through pages and pages of footwear without any intention of making a purchase should replace waterboarding as the world’s foremost torture technique, you find you can’t look away — the next pair could be the one, you think. Spoiler alert: they weren’t. I suppose it’s not entirely shocking that this is where my attention has drifted many a class. The alternative is watching my professor lecture, an option that becomes less and less appealing as the weather gets colder and she still refuses to wear a bra.
I have to level with you. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been four of the five types myself at one point or another. Just don’t peg me as number four; I have yet to muster the courage to make it through 273 pictures of a girl who could very well be sitting right behind me. I’ve even helped develop a new one — “tries to quietly sneak food in class but people act like she’s using a jackhammer” girl. It’s not something I’m proud of. So what right do I, of all people, have to lodge complaints?
The answer lies with “I’m going to make you watch me play 82 games of Tetris” boy. No matter how many pages of Pinterest you scroll through, you can’t help but fight the overwhelming desire to shout Tetris advice three rows down. If only he would rotate his L-shape twice to the left and shift it over two columns, all his problems would be solved. Unfortunately, dispensing advice in this fashion is about as socially unacceptable as trying to eat pretzels in class — believe me, I’d know. So you sit and watch “82 games later” lose. Again. There’s simply nothing you can do to stay sane but judge silently from afar and open a new browser window. The people three rows behind you need to see how it’s done.
Julia’s column runs biweekly Tuesdays. She can be reached at email@example.com.