Look Busy!

Hello and welcome to the Self-Quarantine Self-Help Series! This week, I’ll be discussing how you can better yourself during this period of physical distancing, in order to ensure that once it is time for us to emerge from our COVID-free cocoons, we are all cooler, hotter, and smarter! Today’s topic is the importance of looking busy when nobody’s watching.

In the six or so weeks that we’ve all been staying a home, it has become perfectly clear that not a goddamn thing is getting done. I say this with love and without judgment, as I myself routinely accomplish next to nothing in the course of a day. A complete, annotated list of the total amount of things I achieved yesterday can be counted on zero hands. While it may be too early to know this for a fact, today is already looking like it’s going to yield a similar creative bounty.

Fortunately, I am practiced in the art of pretending that all this slack-jawed, under-caffeinated gawking at my screen is somehow part of the creative process. There’s nothing quite like projecting so much bullshit out into the world that you start to believe it yourself; this allows me claim each day as a creative success, even on days when I utterly fail to produce pages. This was a learned skill. Ever since, I dunno, the eighth grade or so, I have dedicated myself to getting as much done as possible while doing as little work as possible. For some reason (I can only assume it’s because I’m a white guy with a deep voice, although it’s possible that none of my superiors have wanted to hurt my overly sensitive feelings), my intelligence has been continually praised during this period, even as I have grown into the sort of dude who, when placed under duress, can’t tell the difference between a pile of utility bills and a bag of dog poop.

What is the point of all this turgid rambling, you might ask? Obviously, it is largely owing to the degree of love I have for my own voice (I did start my own blog, despite lacking any relevant qualifications), but more importantly than that, when you are able to string together long stretches of discursive material that just barely (but still sorta kinda) manages to stay on topic, as long as you build to some sort of point, people will think you did it on purpose, regardless of whether or not the windup was effective support for the concluding statement. Bam! There’s your first lesson in looking busy.

The second lesson is, and I should note here that this mainly pertains to anyone who produces some sort of written product: always remember, nobody proofreads these days. How many times in the last decade have you been reading something on the internet and seen some sort of typo, misspelling, or improper use of punctuation? ‘Too’ has folded into ‘to’. People fuck up the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ so much these days that I’m starting to wonder if I ever knew the difference between them in the first place. The same applies to ‘there’, ‘their’, and ‘they’re’.

Again, I say this without judgment. I know for a fact that several posts at this very website contain a variety of similar errors, and hell, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to learn that this post is among them (especially since I slept like shit last night). But what I’m getting at here is that, while typos are annoying and make you feel dumber for seeing them, this has been going on for years, and no one has intervened to stop it. This can only mean no one cares that much. It’s an annoyance, not a grievance. This, therefore, reinforces one of the oldest saws in the writing world, one so prominent it’s become a cliché: When you’re writing something and you have no idea what you’re doing, choose quantity over quality.

This brings me to my final lesson for the day – remember, no one gives a shit these days. This was true before COVID hit, and it’s almost certainly going to be true once we’re all able to leave the house again. It doesn’t matter what you get done as long as it looks like you did something that vaguely gestures at the idea of accomplishing something. Take this post, for example. I just realized how far off topic I got; this was supposed to be about helping you trick yourself and others into thinking you’re getting stuff done while working from home, and none of this speaks to any of that. Time for me to quit while I’m behind. Later!

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