Hop Off My Doc: A College Student Mourns the Privacy of Procrastination

Senior Amy DeCillis rants about the use of Google Docs amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

Pandemic under the PRC has meant limited mobility, increased surveillance, and temperature checks. But I don’t mind. In fact, since the COVID-19 outbreak, my biggest gripe is not with God or Xi Jinping, but rather Google. I don’t care who knows my temperature or physical location, but Google Docs has crossed a line in exposing just how lazy I am to my professors and classmates.

As the world has come to live and breathe Zoom, gone are the days of “no technology” in classrooms. This desperate dependency on online platforms has also meant an increase in the use of Google Drive and Google Docs to manage assignments. A collaborative Google document allows anyone you share it with to edit, suggest, comment, or just simply view your work at any given moment. It’s great that a professor or classmate can see the progress I’ve made on an essay with a click of a button, but I miss the days when I could cram the night before without getting caught. Instead, thanks to Google Doc’s meticulous documentation, a professor can not only see that I finished minutes, if not seconds, before the assignment was due, but also that I started it only a few hours prior.

My biggest fear is that someone will open the doc before I’m finished and see the few letters I managed to string together with no citations and fifty different font sizes. It’s unfair. I reserve the right to hide my procrastination in the privacy of my own Google Doc. I don’t want anyone getting an email at 3am notifying them that I marked their comment as resolved. I don’t want anyone checking to see that my last edit was over a month ago. I don’t want to open my doc and see another user’s name at the top of the screen and wonder if they’ve been sitting there judging my writing or if they’re binge-watching “Tiger King” and just forgot to close the tab.

I can always change the sharing settings, but then I feel worried if they can’t see any work I’ve done. I’m at a crossroads: let my professor see that I’ve waited until the night before our meeting to edit the doc or hide my progress in a separate folder and let them think that I haven’t written anything at all. Either way I get nothing done anyways. I spend my time copying, pasting, and drafting on private files and timing my comments to make it seem like I’m a normal functioning human being.

Zooming from the comfort of my own bed has been great, but I am ready to go back to in-person classes. I just want to hand in an essay, a thick paper copy. I want to feel my hard work, or what I am passing off as hard work, in my hands. I want to hide my degeneracy like a normal college student again.

This article was written by Amy Decillis. Contact via email at ad3866@nyu.edu.
Photo Credit: Amy Decillis

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