By SARAH CHANDLER
In one of my hourly wait-what-day-is-it attacks, I was struck by the fact that I only know what day it is because I’m constantly figuring out what day it is. Which I know sounds a little bit redundant. But what I mean is that we — college students mostly, but people in general — know what day it is in large part because of what we’re doing, according to our routine, on that day. On Mondays I have a lab. On Tuesdays I have a committee meeting. On Wednesdays we wear pink.
It’s sort of an infinitely recursive phenomenon. Remember what day it is based on whatever tasks you’ve completed, are planning to complete or are in the process of completing. Feel relieved that remembering what day it is has allowed you to stay on track to complete those tasks. Complete the tasks to reinforce your notion of what day it is and to further your ability to complete the next set of tasks and remember what day it is for the rest of your life (or at least the rest of the week). So are the days of the week a conspiracy theory?
Well, maybe not, but they are of course a construct. The colloquialization of calling something a social construct, though, has sort of made the term redundant (because it is itself a social construct). Just because something is a “social construct” doesn’t mean it’s inherently invalid. It has the potential to tell us a lot about our culture and history. So, the days of the week. They’re nice. They’re some of the first things we learn in foreign language classes in elementary school. They usually have a nice song or something to help us memorize them. They’re also nice because they allow us to define ourselves in terms of our success at adhering to an infinitely repeating schedule. Which seems to be what we’re biologically predisposed to do anyway, given our circadian rhythms and whatnot (and obviously as college students we exercise the utmost care in maintaining these crucial biological rhythms).
But the days of the week are a little weird. They sort of apply a permanence that seems undue to something as transient as an interval of time. We talk about our favorite days of the week (or, more often, our least favorite — all of them) as if every Thursday is spiritually connected to every other Thursday. We don’t really believe that’s the case. But we’re willing to see patterns, even in jest, that might not really be there. Mondays are the worst. No one’s contesting that. But we also have these implicit associations with the other days of the week that don’t really have any statistical or cultural basis (of course, I have no statistical or cultural basis for saying that, but I’ve played enough awkward icebreaker games to know that people think about their favorite days of the week). “It’s Wednesday again.” That sentence doesn’t really seem out of place at all, but it actually means nothing. Wednesday is a concept. It can’t ever really occur, because there is nothing about one Wednesday that either connects or separates it from every other Wednesday. Wednesday never happened, and it never will.
And thus concludes my parody of the girl who came to my checkout lane once at work and argued with her dad for 10 minutes about whether the conveyer belt was a social construct.
Sarah is a sophomore Psychology and Performing & Media Arts major in the College of Arts and Sciences. She likes to exist sometimes, but mostly just recite lines from The Office. Her favorite food is oatmeal raisin cookies dipped in curry sauce, and she can usually be found using the words “film” and “movie” interchangeably, highlighting her favorite words in the dictionary or trying to transcribe feral cat noises into the next groundbreaking Twitter trend. Good Taste Alone appears on Fridays this semester. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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