I’ll admit that Swat and SpongeBob, although alliterative, are not at all synonymous. Though maybe, in some ways, they should be.
We are six weeks into the semester, and an aggregate of stress can be found formulating in the basement of Cornell Library. Sleep-deprived Swatties dragging their feet to 8 a.m. classes and running on three hours of sleep frequent the pathways between Kohlberg and Sci, and mumblings of various assignments fly across the long wooden tables at Sharples.
It doesn’t help that we are well into midterms season with tests, papers, and presentations flying at us faster than that yellow sponge on the screen spits out nonsensical phrases while flipping Krabby Patties.
I got here last year, and honestly didn’t know what to expect. When classes started, I worked a little too hard for a pass-fail freshman, trying to balance soccer, school, and the whirlwind that is living on your own for the first time. On the bus ride back from one of our first away games, in true student-athlete fashion, my teammates and I pulled out our backpacks, turned on our phone flashlights, and prepared to power through a few hours of homework. Five minutes into the ride, someone put SpongeBob on the TV; the reading ground to a halt. As the textbooks and laptops closed, laughter ensued.
We watched more episodes than I can count on that bus ride, the blaring noises characteristic of Nickelodeon shows mingling with the suppressed giggles of the team. Did I get any reading done? No. Was it a productive experience? Absolutely.
Productivity, defined by Swatties and economists, is measured by the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input. But there is another critical factor that should be included into this equation. Work can be fun — in fact, Swatties can often find the joy in intellectualism — but the mind-numbing ignorance that is SpongeBob makes you smile in a purely uncomplicated fashion. That feeling is often underestimated and far more powerful than most people believe.
In high school, I would plan my time largely around school and soccer; I don’t think I ever considered adding an hour of pure relaxation — in any form — to my schedule. Ironically, it took coming to college for me to learn the importance of making time to “chill out.”
Coming into Swat, I had seen a few episodes of SpongeBob and had basically branded it as a ridiculous show that probably lowered the IQ of the watcher. When a girl on our team pulled out a DVD of SpongeBob on the bus ride, I was a little confused.
Did intellectual, highbrow Swatties engage in such childish, rudimentary forms of entertainment? I quickly learned that some of the best ones do.
Honestly, the world and Swat could use a little more SpongeBob. Not all the time — ignoring that which is real and critically important is not something for which I would ever advocate. That said, taking a break, when possible, is absolutely necessary.
It doesn’t have to be SpongeBob. If pineapples under the sea don’t do it for you, then listen to music, go for a walk or a jog or a run in the Crum. Do something with your time that isn’t related to academics, some extracurricular activity you joined, or an internship you are trying to get — something that stimulates zero percent of your brain and possesses no intellectual value.
Personally, I like SpongeBob because sometimes it’s nice to spend a few minutes looking at something so ridiculously laughable you cannot help but grin and giggle.
I’m not sure if anyone actually reads this column, but if you do, please use it as a reminder to take care of yourself. No matter how much is on your plate, you deserve to treat yourself, to engage with something that leaves you unequivocally happy.
The best time to share a striped sweater is all the time. Random? For sure. Pointless? Not at all.