I owe everyone an explanation on the entry I made on April 4 about pulling all-nighters. In short, it was my first time on the frontpage of Digg.com and the popularity was entirely unexpected.
I wrote the entry after having pulled an all-nighter myself, or a "graveyard shift" as I'm told. I had a ton of work to do the night before, on a Sunday night no less, and then I had to do my course-selection online at 6:30 in the morning. I was still doing work even after I finished my course selection, and I think I got a couple hours of sleep before my first class at 11. I went through my classes in a dazed stupor, and I was struggling to stay awake in my lab that evening. I was exhausted.
A lot of people would hear this story and think that this is no big deal, but too many of them assume that staying up all night doing homework is no different from staying up all night partying or playing videogames. The two are very different. I could go days playing videogames, probably a 3 day weekend like those crazy professionals who end up dead; but homework is an entirely different story. It's boring and mentally exhausting, which puts me to sleep very quickly. Staying up all night because I have no choice but to get it done is more difficult than you think.
So I wrote my entry, and I was pleased with it. It was a nice way to make something good out of my lousy experience. I did not, however, think to submit it to Digg right away. It was actually a few days later, after I had received a few good comments about the entry, on and offline. As of now it's at 1924 diggs. I never would have expected it to be so successful, but I can tell why it was. A lot of Diggers (and internet geeks in general) do all-nighters all the time. Many of them go to college or have memories of their college days. Some are even in high school and saw my entry as a useful bunch of tips for college. Everyone found something to relate to, and I'm glad.
The entry also had its share of detractors. Quite a few visitors thought my entry was useless and couldn't understand why anyone would ever digg it. The funny thing is, these were the people that took my entry way too seriously. I wrote the entry with a lot of sarcasm, and I never actually expected anyone to take it so seriously. Granted, everything I wrote in the entry was true; they were my real tips on how to stay up all night. I just didn't intend for the entry to be a serious tutorial. The humor was what I thought won a lot of people over, and for the ones who didn't like it, I think I can say that they just didn't get it.
More importantly than any of this initial-reaction stuff, I found some interesting things while reading through the comments. It's worth mentioning that:
- A lot of college students don't get enough sleep, and some of them can't help it.
- Some people really will take drugs to stay awake. I don't condone this at all.
- A huge number of Diggers are college students.
- For all the bad rap Diggers get, most of them are allright. Some of them are very nice.
Some of the comments also made me laugh. Laugh a lot. For example:
- I mentioned that staying up an extra 8 hours makes your day 50% longer. A day is 16 hours long… the math makes sense. Unfortunately I didn't clarify the 16 hours bit, so someone didn't quite get it. He insisted that I was stupid, claiming that I was wrong because a day is 24 hours and 8/24 is 33%. Apparently I couldn't do math. That would be hilarious… Cornell really should be more selective if I can't do math. I didn't bother responding to this guy, and someone else came along and corrected them. All's well that ends well.
- One of the early commenters insisted that my entry was lame and claimed that "all of Digg" was laughing at me. I didn't bother responding to this guy either. I think that after over 1900 diggs, there's no need to argue. If anything they were laughing with me.
- renskav had the best tip: "fill a plastic bowl with cuttlery and metal screws, whenver you start to doze of shake it next to your ear." Classic.
- skujkfuh, while being a jerk, used one of my favorite lines: "thank you captain obvious." Then again, he should be called "captain clueless."
- MITkid had a nice rant about people who expect respect for pulling all-nighters. Then again, MIT seems like a really easy school :)
- A few people on Digg talked about an alternative lifestyle where you sleep an hour at a time between 3 hours at a time of being awake (or something like that). All I have to say to these people is: good luck doing that while leading a normal life in this world. You obviously know nothing about aligning your schedule with other people.
Another comment saved my redesign. Turns out you shouldn't letterspace your body copy. Thanks pete.
And finally, some people asked for tips on how to stay up the next day. There's really not much I can say about that, other than:
- Keep eating… you need the energy.
- Don't nap unless you really want to sleep a lot. After so much sleep deprivation, you usually can't handle a short nap without getting knocked out.
- Don't do too much physical activity, unless you can do some energy-boosting exercise. You have to realize you are low on energy.
- Try not to think about your all-nighter. It will just make you feel tired and lame.
- Shower again, partly because it will make you feel more awake and partly because you might smell bad.
I don't have more tips because I'm actually not good at this at all. And as for getting your work done early so you can get a full night's sleep, I'm definitely not the person to ask. While I have improved a lot at getting my work done over the past couple years, I'm still nowhere near being an effective student.
So that's all I have to say. I had a lot of fun that weekend, riding the wave of Digg, followed by del.icio.us most popular, and even getting posted on Lifehacker. Thanks to all the Diggers that made it happen.