Every year, thousands of young Americans graduate from college. And every year, those poor wretched hungover bastards are forced to sit out in some quad in million-degree heat to listen to a mildly famous person yammer on and on for hours about how these kids will change the world and all that bullshit. And do you know why these celebrities think you're gonna do just super out there in the real world? Because THEY did great out in the real world, and they can't wait to spend 40 endless minutes describing to you exactly how they were able to pull it off. That's what a celebrity graduation speech really is. It's some fuckface standing up at a podium and reciting their longform resume to you. It has barely anything to do with you. You aren't going to be famous. You probably aren't going to be rich. You're not going to have anything in common with Oprah, or Joy Behar, or whatever dipshit was flown in for free to don a robe and finger their own asshole on stage for you.
Because nothing is more boring than hearing about someone else's success. I'd rather hear about your kids, or your bad poker hands, or your fantasy team. I'd much rather hear about your fantasy team, especially if your fantasy team sucks, because mine sucks too and that's what life is all about: suffering through one goddamn losing fantasy season after another. Success stories are boring, pointless, enraging, and almost always gloss over the most critical details of a person's success. "After graduating from Harvard, I bummed around for a bit. Then, I managed to get a writing job over at Saturday Night Live…" Wait, what? WHAT THE FUCK?! How the fuck did that just happen? People spend entire lives trying to land that kind of job, and you just got it? I FUCKING HATE YOU NOW. And given that success is often the byproduct of luck — who your parents were, who you happen to know, etc. — nothing about someone else's Horatio Alger story is going to have any application to YOUR life, and how YOU can end up rich and surrounded by smoking-hot Czech hookers on a nightly basis.
Worst of all, grad speakers usually give you one piece of advice that I personally can't stand, and here it is: Carpe Diem. Listen to any grad speech and you'll hear some variation of that. Seize the day. Live every second of life to the fullest. DON'T WASTE TIME.
This is the wrong advice. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. It's so wrong, I want to find any grad speaker who says it and kick them in the dick. But I'm not going to do that, because that would require research and travel and I don't like either of those things.
The fact of the matter is that wasting time is the single most important thing you can do as an American. This entire society, and in fact our entire economy, is built around the concept of dicking around. Doing nothing and being a complete waste of space is absolutely critical to your future happiness. Take it from someone who is too lazy to wash his hands after pissing in the middle of the night. I waste oceans of time, and I'm telling you, IT WORKS. Not only is it a sound philosophy for your existence, but it also will end up saving this country.
Boredom is the crucible of good ideas. Everyone jokes about having their best thoughts while on the shitter, but that's true for a reason. No one expects you to be productive on the shitter. No one is talking to you. You are free to waste time as you see fit. Maybe you read. Maybe you whip out your phone and look at porn. Doesn't matter. What matters is that you have just done something incredibly valuable with your time, even if you don't know it yet. The time you waste is the bonus time you give your mind to consider things it normally wouldn't have time to consider. Every time you take a shit, every time you sit in some fucking dentist's office, every time you put off doing actual work, every time you sit in traffic … every time you do nothing is extra time for your brain to come up with good ideas.
And it's those ideas that make the absolute difference in life. Great products, great movies, great songs, great snacks — all of these things are conceived by people who have TIME to conceive of them, and have wasted enough time in life to absorb enough shit that they can process it and spit it back out in a moment of epiphany as something original, something that can make lots of money. American success isn't based on putting in a good day's work for a good day's pay. That's for idiots. It's about biding your time, and then eventually hitting on that one good idea that does NOT bore you.
Boredom weeds out shitty ideas. Boredom gives you higher standards, far higher standards for yourself than, frankly, you really deserve. Will you think the first job you get out of school is below your abilities, like this jackass did? You probably will, but it's not. You're a college graduate and you know dick. You deserve to spend five years as a paralegal sifting through a bunch of horrible files and shit. But the fact that you're deluded enough to think you deserve more is the very reason you have better odds of success than some dumb shit who accepts his position willingly and does the same kind of work with great pride and care. Boredom is the difference.
And we LOVE to be bored. No one does bored better than Americans do it. How the fuck can you be bored with every possible mass medium available in your pocket? Well, we find a way. Our boredom is inexcusable, bordering on offensive to the less fortunate and to those who would go out and make something of their lives. I'm bored virtually every second of every day. Even right now, as I'm writing this. I'm bored to death. You see this sentence? I went up to the fridge and ate seven slices of ham before AND after writing it. It was Virginia ham, and it was goddamn tasty. And this sentence right here? Yeah, well it shouldn't have taken long to write it, but then I saw a banner ad flash in the browser behind the Word doc showing a girl wearing cutoffs, and so I had to go gratify myself. Everything about this post is a waste of time. It isn't even going to make Gawker money in new unique visitors. And you're wasting time simply by reading it. In fact, many people will leave a comment on this very post saying, "Well, that was a waste of time," which is hilarious because it presupposes that their time was somehow valuable to begin with. It's not.
I get bored even when I should be excited. I can get bored at rock concerts, especially when the band in question decides to test out new material. I can get bored while masturbating. No lie. Sometimes, I'll get up in the morning, go to masturbate, and then just give up if it's taking too long. And I'm not alone. I know plenty of people who are just as easily unamused. This country has a veritable surplus of boredom. We get distracted easily because we always assume there's something BETTER to do, something cooler, something that will feed us ice cream and massage our prostates simultaneously. And that, oddly enough, is a form of ambition. It is, in fact, the very best kind of ambition. Facebook started because someone was bored (and bitter). The Bacon Explosion was created because someone was bored and stoned and probably hungry. Societies that are lacking in boredom and wasted productivity may sound efficient, but they aren't. They inhibit ideas, suppress creativity, and most of all, they SUCK. And they suck hard. Think China will end up overtaking us and enslaving us all and forcing you to work in plastic penis straw factories until the day you die? You're wrong. And sitting on your ass is the reason why. Chinese people are productive, hard-working, and willing to sacrifice. That is not how good ideas come about. Good ideas come from being spoiled, impatient, selfish little assholes. That's us. We've got that. China's not touching that. They may manufacture the iPod, but they sure as shit didn't think of it. SUCK MY BALLS, TIGER MOMMIES.
You may not realize it now, but the time you wasted as a child and the time you waste as an adult do more to prepare you for greatness than pretty much anything else. Eddie Murphy spent his childhood listening to Richard Pryor tapes in his basement. He did it, presumably, because he thought it was fun. But what he was really doing was unwittingly studying to become a great comedian. Every time he played that tape over and over again, he learned something new about how Pryor phrased jokes and how he delivered them. He was, on the surface of things, wasting time listening to those records. But deeper down, he was teaching himself. Same with Quentin Tarantino. He didn't go to film school. He just watched shitloads of movies because he liked watching shitloads of movies. Now both men are filthy rich and can hire all the tranny hookers they please. Both men learned their respective crafts in the best way possible: without realizing they were learning anything.
And that's what you do every time you decide to fuck around. You know those reports that say America loses billions in productivity every year because of March Madness or fantasy football? Those reports are horseshit. What they should really say is that Americans spent a lot of time avoiding tedious, suffocating bullshit to go ahead and satisfy their own interests, and doing that will ALWAYS put you ahead in the long run. Maybe you decided to sneak out and go drinking with a friend. Maybe you decided to read a blog and start a flame war. Maybe you did something that sounds like a waste of time, but is in fact you making new connections with other people or inadvertently stumbling onto a new idea you think could make you money or get you laid. All that supposedly unproductive time? It's the exact opposite. It's just like that one episode of Mad Men, when Don explains that the creatives need to be unproductive until they're productive. It's true. The mind needs to be indulged, and then it can pay you back tenfold.
So if you're graduating from college this month, promise me you'll get out there and be as useless and as wasteful as humanly possible. Don't get a job until you absolutely have to. Get drunk as shit. Play video games. Smoke weed. Watch porn. Ignore your grad speaker while playing a DS. Be a barnacle upon society. Do it now, because as you get older, you will find yourself with much less time to piss away. You'll have a spouse. And kids. And actual responsibilities. And all sorts of horrible forms and shit to fill out. Trust me. I can barely carve out half an hour every day to sit there like a lump of shit, when it's really all I want to do. When you get old, you'll have to do all these things that sound productive but, in fact, keep your mind from wandering off into new and bizarre places and coming back with GOLD. And lots of inappropriate sexual thoughts.
Do not seize the day. Let some other sap grab that day and go running off with it like a naïve little shit. Do not live life to the fullest. That doesn't fucking mean anything. Everyone has a life, and everyone's life is filled with exciting moments and moments of pure anguish. Just let life pass right on by. Anyone who says life is short is lying. It's not. It's endless, especially if you're waiting for your microwave to cook something. You got all the time in the world to do things, so don't do ANYTHING. Because if you spend enough time doing nothing, you're gonna come up with something. You're like a fucking COBRA. You're just laying there for years and years, waiting for your moment and then BOOM! FANGS IN THE NECK, BITCH.
And even if you don't come up with something … even if you waste all the time in the world and never come up with a good idea and never amount to anything … well shit, at least you didn't go working like a goddamn sucker. And at least you tuned out during that one lame-as-shit grad speech.
Drew Magary's novel, The Postmortal, is available for pre-order on Amazon.