Students are procrastinating bedtime in order to deal with the high-stress of virtual university

While the now universally recognized COVID-19 pandemic rages on, there is another, far more common disease that has fully sunken its claws on McMaster University students: revenge bedtime procrastination.

COVID-19 may at least have a chance of defeat against your physique’s loyal antibodies, but this disease engulfs your mind entirely until it is in a constant battle with itself between what you desire versus what you need.

What is revenge bedtime procrastination, you may ask? This phrase was originally coined in China by workers as a sort of personal retaliation against their 12-14 hour workdays and describes the phenomenon where one purposefully “procrastinates” and delays a practical bedtime to avoid repeating the same exhausting weekday routine time and time again. 

The purpose of this action is to somehow accommodate leisure time in what is otherwise an extremely exhausting work schedule. In fact, our mental, physical and spiritual need for leisure is so valued that we are willing to sacrifice another equally valuable and necessary component of our lives: sleeping.

Despite knowing the horrible outcome of RBP in one’s everyday life, people, specifically students, simply cannot stop engaging in willful self-destruction in a high-pressure environment like McMaster. 

I believe we can attribute this phenomenon to the way our educators and McMaster have structured online education. There is a common misconception that online university, due to its moderately unsupervised nature and self-paced learning style is somehow easier. Yet, this could not be farther from the truth.

In order to compensate for the in-person university experience and to not compromise the quality of education, professors have deemed it suitable to give out the same amount of work, if not more than they would usually give, as we are spending all of our time at home. 

However, what our professors have failed to consider is that an in-class experience is not directly translatable to an online environment. Now that students are forced to teach themselves through hours and hours of modules, read online textbooks and constantly be on Zoom and other social media to stay connected, many are unwittingly finding themselves spending a good 12-14 hours of their day at a desk in their room in an effort to keep up with all the work.

The constant flow of content behind a screen at an unprecedented rate (pun intended) has left students scrambling to cling on to any precious facet of their life that is not bound to the stark white chains of Avenue to Learn.

Some of us have stopped exercising, reading books for pleasure, making art and music, spending time with our families and living in the present moment. Rather we are so exhausted from the demands of online school, that we have given up on the hobbies we truly love, which used to keep us intellectually stimulated and gave us an identity.

The only thing we have the energy to do after a long workday with minimal effort is to spend even more time on a screen, in the form of mindlessly scrolling through TikTok. Our perpetual exposure to blue light during the day and at night huddled under the covers on our phones only exacerbates RBP by disrupting our natural REM sleep cycle as countless healthcare professionals have warned.

McMaster’s students are human as well and we are deserving of work that can be completed within normal workday hours without severely impeding our sleep and leisure. When the spirit of the student body is crushed, it brings down the very quality of the university itself. 

Dear professors: 

When you post a nice message encouraging us to take breaks and go on walks, please sincerely allow us an opportunity to do so. Because until you do, the RBP way of life will be the only one students will know for the foreseeable future.

Image courtesy of C/O Jurien Huggins

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