In Defense of Messy Rooms Kevin Jefferson Entropy is the scientific term used to describe the trend that all

components of any given system will grow more disorderly on the molecular level with time. Through the terms of thermodynamic chemistry, it can be said that a cube of ice experiences a positive change in entropy when it melts, since its molecules become less and less attached to one another. In turn, I am able to truthfully say that I am currently conducting a scientific experiment on entropy, using my living quarters as a large scale model. My room represents a system in which all of its constituent objects (papers, books, clean clothes, dirty clothes, etc.) are considered molecules. Given time, the “molecules” of my room grow more disorderly, to the point at which my parents call it “messy.” They also contend that the disorder must be banished from my system (i.e., clean my room). However, I know science will prove that the act of introducing order to a system is pointless, as it is bound to return to its course in entropy in the blink of an eye: first, a stray paper here, a lone book there; then, a sock in the corner of the room, followed by a plate from the snacks consumed the previous night while studying. Beyond the parameters of the scientific experiment, a room, when it exhibits these signs of increasing entropy, can often also contain organization, as well as reflect its inhabitant’s personality. To the untrained eye, an entropic room may seem chaotic. To the experienced eye of the room’s owner, it has organization, even though it lacks order. It is necessary to differentiate between orderly and organized: something is organized when it has any structure, but orderly only if that structure has a clear-cut and tidy form. For example, my books are usually congregated in the back left corner of my room: they need not be orderly and on the shelves for me to be able to find them. The books that have not joined that crowd are either on my desk or

next to it, on the floor. They sit in stacks in precisely reverse chronological order according to the last time I looked at them. In addition, I have stacks of papers also sitting around my room: one stack is for my physics notes, another is for my government notes, and yet another contains my sheet music. Each of these stacks is also organized in precisely reverse chronological order, as the books were. Despite their organization, these stacks are still entropic, since I had previously attempted in vain to contain them in an orderly manner within folders inside my desk. These stacks of papers have since migrated from the desk to the floor, so that I can see them better. It is often difficult for outsiders to understand the organizational structure of a so-called “messy room.” That they do not understand the nature of cleverly-structured rooms is a direct result from their position as outsiders. When a room is organized in a non-crystalline form, it is not meant to be interpreted by anyone other than he who made it. For example, some of my family do not believe that I can find things within my room. On the contrary, I know exactly where everything is, as I have assigned each object a unique place. Even though things are strewn about my room, they are strewn in an artistic fashion, through which I will remember their positions. It may be true that no one else can locate my possessions because they are unfamiliar with my method of organization, but there should be no need for anyone else to find them. If anything, this method provides my belongings with security and secrecy, since I know it is highly unlikely that anyone other than myself will find them. Having a messy room should not classify a person strictly as scatterbrained. They say that people who have creative minds often have “messy” rooms. The layout of possessions in one’s room may very well reflect one’s inner mind. If someone often thinks “outside of the box” and in ways that are uncommon and not traditional, his room is often not organized with a

traditional filing-cabinet method. For example, I like to attack problems in life from the most unpredictable angles possible. I have the same mindset when it comes to my room: I like to organize things in a unique fashion that I understand better than any other person in the world. I have thereby turned my room into a form of art in which I can express my personality, by decreasing the order forced upon it and organizing it according to my own means.

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