by Jaaee Nadkarni
It’s minute 36 of your 75 minute Philosophy of Human Nature class. You’re on your 80th tiktok. You continue scrolling mindlessly. Oh, that one was kind of funny. You watch 12 whole seconds instead of the usual 4. You check your texts. No one has responded to your meme about Selling Sunset. You wait a minute. Still no response. You decide to look up at your professor talking about trolleys running people over. You have absolutely no idea what she’s saying. You look around the zoom at your classmates. You watch some overachievers unmute themselves in anticipation, but not say anything. One student catches your eye. You wonder what they’re looking at. They’re staring so intently. You think maybe there’s a bird outside their window. Cool.
You go back to your tiktoks. 10 scrolls later and you’re bored again. You decide it’s time for twitter. Oh look, a conservative politician said something racist today. So did another one. And another one. You like some tweets about quarantine. Just another day on twitter. 5 minutes pass. You look up again. And the student from before, they haven’t moved. They’re still staring at something. You think: damn, that must be one good looking bird.
You try to pay attention to your professor. There’s only 21 minutes left, you can do it. You listen as she asks a question about utilitarian organ harvesting. You don’t even know what that means. You watch as everyone slowly goes still. No one raises a hand. None of the overachievers unmute themselves. You know what’s about to happen. She’s gonna cold call. You break out in a sweat. Please don’t be me, please don’t be me is running through your head. Then she calls on them. The bird watcher. Relief floods through you. You’re in the clear, this time. That’s when you notice, they still haven’t moved. They haven’t moved for 15 minutes. Oh no, you think, as you realize they might be frozen. Who will answer the question now?! You watch them stare as the professor waits for an answer. But THEN, you see them blink. Aha! They’re not frozen. They’re just a dummy like you.