To all of you who use your laptops in class

By Zack Hill

Despite your best attempts at annoyingly distracting others from class, which have included causing chaos in the peripheral vision of those sitting around you; typing unnecessarily loudly; and presenting sexually explicit IM conversations, interesting websites, and playful games of Starcraft too irresistible for any one nearby to avoid gazing at, you are failing to be as obnoxious as you are capable of being. Heck, I doubt you’re being more obnoxious than students at Yale, or even Northwestern. To amend this, I have attached a few humble suggestions for how you can be even more of an annoyance in class you feel it necessary to be loud and bother others (and really, isn’t that all the time?) and to help University of Chicago students regain their once-proud reputation for utter insufferability in the classroom.

1) Scoff frequently: As a brilliant University of Chicago student (a redundant title if there ever was one), you’ve surely realized that you’re smarter than most of your professors. Let the rest of the class know this while relieving your boredom. Every time your professor, who has probably only been researching, thinking, and writing a few decades longer than you have, says something that’s obviously inane, scoff loudly. Variants can include scoffing at a book, ideally a piece of great literature, or anything you read in Sosc class (after all, the rest of the world already suspects that you can immediately and witheringly dissect any book ever written, so why not prove it to them with some well timed scoffs?). Bonus points if your first language is English and you scoff at something written in either French, German, or Russian.

2) Really, anything in a foreign language: Writing, reading, talking, or singing in any foreign language (assuming it’s not native to you) will do the trick. Just be sure to be loud (most likely not a problem for you). Bonus points for conjugating lists of Latin verbs (out loud, of course) or scouring the class for any work that has been translated from its original language (upon discovery of which you are of course to inform the book’s owner that it’s much better in the original). Also, try turning behind you and asking, “Hey, do you know what the root of this Arabic word is/which hieroglyph this is/that I can read Ancient Greek?” On the off-chance that they answer in the affirmative, terminate the conversation and repeat the inquiry with someone else.

3) Do the New York Times Sunday crossword–in pen. Loudly. I know what you’re thinking. Even if you were to do it in pen, how would others know of your exploits? Indeed, the crossword move is only suggested for students who have already reached an advanced stage of obnoxiousness because it is dangerously easy for this activity to become quiet and unobtrusive. (In fact, it is suggested only for political science majors and graduate students, although upper-level “that kids” majoring in English are also eligible.) Suggestions for keeping it obnoxious include: Wait for class to begin, then ask everyone around you for a pencil. When one turns up, loudly reply, “No thanks, I’m just doing the Times’s Sunday crossword puzzle, and I only use pen.” Also try complaining about the simplicity of the clues (i.e., “That’s so obvious!” See suggestion 1, regarding scoffing, for related ideas) and singing out loud any tune using only the words “Times’s Sunday crossword…with a pen!” The trick with this one is really to come up with new and unique ways to make it obnoxious. Just as it stopped being funny the fifth time someone’s cell phone interrupted Sosc class (lest you think I dare suggest remembering to turn off your cell phones before class, let me assure you that your ringing phones are still plenty obnoxious!), you don’t want anyone to become accustomed to your antics.

4) Listen to your iPod: Again, this is only recommended for advanced students, as listening to an iPod can easily become an unobtrusive activity. Try listening to classical music and humming along, while conducting in real time. For full effect, ensure that your conducting obscures the view of at least three other students, and periodically declare, “Tchaikovsky, if only you could be around to hear how the London Symphony is butchering your masterpiece.”

5) Pay attention or, if the class isn’t as engaging as you’d hoped, goof off in a way that doesn’t distract everyone around you. What? Yes, of course this last one is a joke.