Students caught in infinite loop of talking about school

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Illustrated by Marissa Ouyang

Written by: Aaron Richardson

BREAKING NEWS: Reports are streaming in about two SFU students who have been caught in an infinite loop of talking about school for the last four months. Eyewitness reports say that this began at a party celebrating the end of the spring semester.

Before the party, the students supposedly were unacquainted with each other. Because of this, their conversation naturally started by talking about school. The conversation began innocently enough, with questions such as “What’s your major?” or “What classes are you taking next semester?” As the conversation continued, and they began to exhaust the topic of school, the questions became more and more obscure, while still pertaining solely to their post-secondary life.

Such questions included “Which bathroom on the westside of SFU’s Burnaby campus is your favourite,” “If you were to get a certificate on top of your double major and extended minor, what department would it be in,” “What is the most convenient class schedule you’ve had in the last three semesters not including summers,” and many more.

Unable to comprehend conversations that didn’t involve university, they eventually entirely exhausted the topic of new and novel questions, returning back to their original questions, and thus beginning the loop again. Experts estimate that since then they’ve completed approximately 400 loops of the same conversation without stopping.

“It could happen to anyone,” commented a handful of their fellow students on the plight of their peers. “Usually when I run out of topics involving school I just stop talking. But I can easily imagine how something like this could happen.”

“I tried to talk about something that wasn’t school once. But the student I was talking to just stared at me in disbelief, seemingly unable to understand the words that came out of my mouth. I’ve learnt to avoid those conversations with fellow students, and to stick to topics which they can understand.”

One might wonder how it is that these students could ask and answer the same questions over and over again for four months. But a handful of SFU psychoanalysts specializing in the unconscious mind have generated some hypotheses as to how this could happen.

The leading theory is that neither student is listening to the other, or even to themself. Instead, their minds are still on school. When they ask and answer questions, their minds are running automatically without any conscious awareness. Thus, they do not notice when they begin asking the same question for the eightieth time.

Rescue operations are currently underway. The first attempt was met with unfortunate, but unsurprising, failure. Noise-cancelling earphones were discreetly placed onto each student’s head, in hopes of isolating them from each other’s questions and breaking the loop. However, this had no effect on the students, and they continued on with their conversation as if nothing had happened.

“It’s as if they don’t even care what the other one has to say,” said the agent assigned the mission. “They are just talking to themselves, entirely oblivious to the fact they are engaged in a conversation with another human being.”

The rescue team was quite shaken and surprised by this harsh reality at first, until researchers informed them that this is actually normal behaviour for the typical student. Further attempts at rescue are still in the planning stages, but it is still unknown when they will be able return to society.

Even if they do eventually return, it’s possible that enough will have changed about their post-secondary life that the loop will begin all over again with entirely new topics of conversation.