Onism Or the Awareness of How Little Of the World You'll Experience
Issue   |   Tue, 03/10/2015 - 23:38

s there a reason why we waste time? We are all familiar with the phrase “You should be doing something useful with your life!” While studying in Keefe Science Library, I often stop my work and watch an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” or just a few YouTube videos. Sure, I get my work done, but I do wander. As travelers in search of signification, we tend to some studies and readings as more momentous; indeed, anything now and then seems more interesting than that chapter of chemistry reading!

At all times, one must be doing something — homework or extracurricular activities — in order to climb the ladder of success. However, there is a desire in us to explore the world more often. Confined by walls and time, we reach out to a medium that offers the expansion of our horizons. Aside from time spent talking to friends or doing some leisure reading, I would say we mostly waste our time on — drumroll, please — the Internet. But why? “Onism” is a brilliant word coined by John Koenig, author of “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows” and YouTube personality in charge of a channel that goes by the same name, to delineate the awareness of how little of the world we will experience. Depressing, is it not? In the rest of the article, I will explore a few other terms of Koenig’s.

Oleka: The Awareness of How Few Days Are Memorable

Unfortunately, few of our days on this earth are memorable. For that reason, it would seem that life belongs in the background. With the imagination humans possess, dormant fantasies remind us of how little of the world we are experiencing — a morose thought, indeed. So why do we waste time, knowing that there are countless experiences to be sought out? Stuck in one body in one place at a time, we (mostly) roam the Internet to connect with other parts of the world through that “global brain.” After asking several people how they “wasted” their time, I noted that the most common answer was (not surprisingly) on Facebook. We check Facebook hourly, or every so often, because there is a fear of missing out on a status or a happening elsewhere on the globe. Unconsciously paranoid, we crave to be involved, to be a contributing member of a greater community. Facebook permits us to try to formulate a memorable profile while we endeavor to keep up with the news of our friends and campus. It is an innovation that reminds us of who we were and allows us to conjure a vision of whom we wish to become: an aware, successful and memorable member of humanity.

In addition, YouTube is a time-consuming machine that occupies most of our time with either random videos or ones that address our passions. Honestly, whenever I visit YouTube I either listen to song playlists or watch “Shots of Awe” videos; occasionally I use it to find explanatory videos. Yet, I regularly do digress, sometimes for many hours, then forgetting what I had set out to do. I have a longing to be emotionally moved by videos or to be lost in a different realm, one that transcends my biological limitation. YouTube presents multifarious perspectives to this baffling world and permits us to engage the faraway mind. On another note, it would seem that perhaps people spend hours on BuzzFeed because of our demanding society’s requirement to have an opinion on nearly everything (while still keeping listening to as many different opinions as possible). One ends up reading articles and taking quizzes — “What Kind Of Garbage Are You?” — in order to formulate an opinion about oneself as well as to have something “interesting” to tell one’s friends: “I got ‘kidney’ for that ‘What Kind of Internal Organ Are You?’ quiz!” The reason why we waste so much time, especially on the Internet, is a result of Oleka.

Yú Yi: The Desire to Feel Intensely Again

Ultimately, it is the banality of tasks that drives us to occupy the background and digress (procrastinate?), sometimes for up to a couple of hours a day; it is impatience with lived life. To feel emotive transcendence is rare but coveted, and some people fear that they will only feel lesser versions of the same emotions (watch “Her” if you want to fully understand). Numbed by doing homework, “wasting time” provides us an opportunity to engage the senses, calm the mind or find the motivation to do work. We sometimes protect ourselves by tuning out the world, but then the tide rises and the desire to feel intensely again manifests itself; Yú Yi invades our thoughts. It is “wasting time” that offers that escapism. There is a thrust of tides in our hearts in need of subsiding. As Jane Austen wrote, “…none of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” What can I say … carpe diem?

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