Posts Tagged 'laziness'

Deadman’s A-Z Guide to Living: Inertia

Observing the mistakes and silliness of others is a perfectly useful way to learn how to live the well-lived life.

For instance, my mother’s mother, may her soul rest in peace, was a tremendously loving and caring grandmother, but I probably learned at least as much about life from her flaws as from her positive attributes. In particular, I was able to see the damage my Bobba wrought (to herself as well as others) as she bitterly held onto grudges and regrets as if they alone could sustain her, and often retaliated to perceived insults with petty nastiness.

I realized such behavior had to be terribly unsatisfying, and ultimately unproductive, and believe I have embraced a much healthier way to deal with people and events that disappoint me (I forgive easily. I focus on the positives. I take my share of the blame. I think before responding, and try to consider the long-term implications of my actions).

Alas, I’m beginning to realize that a fair amount of my A-Z Guide to Living will also end up serving as a cautionary tale, full of advice which I believe to be critically important but am not following for whatever reason.

Give charity generously, unlike me.

Avoid distractions, unlike me.

Overcome your fears, unlike me.

And now, for my latest lesson, I want you to fight inertia, unlike me.

In physics, inertia is the resistance of any object to a change in its state of motion. When you throw in the additional effects of friction and gravity one encounters here on Earth, inertia basically means that things have a tendency to be still and tethered to the ground.

Or specifically: My ass has a tendency to be tethered to the couch, watching TV.

My college roommate and I used to comment all the time about how our lives were basically ruled by inertia. Recognizing we were powerless to stop it, we embraced its presence, bowing to the ever-looming God of Inertia and offering it regular sacrifices, which of course meant continuing to sit on our asses and watch TV.

It’s no surprise that the root for inertia comes from the Latin iners, meaning lazy.

Unfortunately, with the passing years, inertia tends to exert an even more powerful hold. Energy levels deplete as responsibilities build, so sitting on your ass during those precious moments of free time almost always seems the most appealing option. Indeed, nowadays when I find myself stymied by inertia, it often takes a tremendous amount of unexpected force – such as the passing odor of freshly baked M&M/fluff cookies – to get my ass to move.

I probably don’t need to tell you the problems that will develop as you let inertia work its voodoo, but like those scary stop-smoking commercials, I’m going to anyway: Atrophied muscles, weight gain, poor vision, loss of brainpower, diminished creativity, decreased sex drive, general ennui, a disturbing accumulation of knowledge of lame reality TV shows.

And inertia will increasingly sneak its way into other parts of your life, as well. It will keep you in unhealthy relationships and unfulfilling jobs. It will make the prospect of change seem like the most frightening thing in the world. Its primary goal is to turn your life into one big rut.

Seriously, you must fight inertia with all of your might.

Go to the gym. Play a sport. Find a fun new hobby, like say, blogging. Make love to your wife. Cook dinner. Meet up with friends (but not my college roommate, especially if there is a couch involved). Always be moving. Always be changing.

Yes, it is tiring to battle the God of Inertia, but the most appropriate place to sit your ass down is the coffin, not the couch.

I won’t join you in your fight, of course … but if they make it into a reality TV show, I’ll likely watch.

Time to Google ‘Laziness’?

Is Google making us intellectually lazy?

That was the gist of a question financial wildman Jim Cramer asked Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt on a CNBC interview this week. Cramer pointed out that one of his daughter’s fifth-grade teachers banned the use of Google for an assignment she received. Schmidt seemed genuinely surprised by the anecdote, comparing it to how math teachers often ban the use of calculators.

Schmidt called Google ‘a new way of learning … Kids are going from knowing everything to being able to search (for information) very quickly.’

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and I have to agree with Schmidt.

For me at least, the Internet and search engines haven’t made me lazier, but more inquisitive. Not a day goes by that I don’t find myself doing a search on a topic I’ve never studied, a person I’ve never heard of, a word I’ve never learned, etc. And I don’t think the Internet has let me down yet in terms of finding the information that I seek.

Last week, I was writing a short story about a loan officer for my writing class, and I was worried about the piece’s verisimilitude, so I went online to do some research. There was just a ton of stuff out there, from consumer advocacy organizations discussing how to get a loan, to government agencies explaining the daily life of a loan officer.  Some of it was overkill for my purposes, but even adding just a couple of small details to the story really helped make it more believable.

And I can’t even imagine doing my job – researching stocks – without having the Internet at my disposal.  The productivity boost I get from finding information so much faster than ever before possible far outweighs the potential risks of relying too heavily on other people’s work, which can at times either be based on faulty assumptions or, worse, just plain wrong.

Schmidt’s calculator analogy is somewhat apt. The Internet and search are tools which help us more easily find basic facts and figures, but if we’re looking for anything more than simple answers, and we don’t understand the underlying issues or concepts, they won’t do us much good.

Remember, trivia does not equal knowledge. And knowledge doesn’t equal intelligence.

So, in the meantime, I’m going to continue to do what my girlfriend tells me to do whenever I question one of her dubious oddball statements: ‘S-T-F-W!’ she’ll say, exasperated that i just won’t believe her.

Don’t know what that means? Neither did I … ’til I STFWed.


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