Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Internet-based Moral Systems

You’re just coming home from football practice and you need to shower, eat dinner, and do homework before hopefully falling into bed before midnight. You’ve got a test tomorrow on 1984. Crap. You’re on page 10. Nevermind that the book started on page 7. Nevermind that you had two hours before practice to do homework instead of playing dollar flip (you won $2, so that was time well spent). Chances are, when you sit down and open up your book you’ll find yourself falling asleep by page 11. But wait, there’s a savior for you: Sparknotes.

                Sparknotes is a widely used resource for “too busy” students everywhere. Its fan base alone is testament to its power and quality. The hard job of thinking is done previously, by people who have time to do so, and all you need to do is use your meme-filled, twitter-condensed mind to lap it up, from the comfort of your own home. Surely, if it’s found on the internet and free, it must be worthwhile!

Instead of spending the next three hours reading a book you won’t enjoy for a test riddled with trick questions by your conniving English teacher who hates you anyway, Mrs. Jackson, you could spend two hours on Facebook and perhaps 20 minutes skimming through the chapter summaries for this book. It hits all the important issues and is written, probably, by underpaid expert English teachers who need to sell their souls for rising costs of living, so it’s got all the answers. You could even spend ten more minutes on Yahoo answers jotting down some of the more important quotes which might be on that test, if you really want to impress someone. By that time, you’d be in bed a half an hour early, and it’s widely known that students need their beauty rest, because teenagers’ growth hormones need sleep to generate (www.facebookfeednews.com).

                Pesky morals may haunt you. Students have moments of weakness when they think that using Sparknotes might be dishonest, but in the long term you need to go to college. You know you could do it, you know you would do it, if you had to, if you were in college, if you didn’t have to sleep/go on FB/read all these BOOKS you don’t have time to read. That’s what matters. You just need to be able to do it, and you are a completely capable person with a lot of skill. You got a B on the last test and you only read the first chapter anyway. That shows you’re doing something right. What’s dishonest is getting grades based on what you know because you don't have time to show what you really know.

                You are important, and you are worth it. Your future is worth a little untruth. You still clearly know the difference between right and wrong and when it matters, you will make the decisions that matter. Just like you will know the answer when it is important for you to know the answer. The only people that actually read the book have no lives and are not well-rounded, so it’s completely fair that Johnny, who you know read the book, got a B on the last test, too.  He is obviously not as smart as you.

Reading books is not what makes you smart. What makes you smart is getting passable grades without even trying. If you really tried, you would get A’s. Talent and brains is what makes millions; Bill Gates was so lazy he dropped out of college (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Gates). You can almost hear Mrs. Jackson lecturing “It’s the thinking that’s important, not just knowing what the answer is!” or similar silliness about education being more important than grades. You can’t go about life worrying about what other people think.

 Isn’t that what she taught you?

1 comment:

Ephraim Temple said...

"What’s dishonest is getting grades based on what you know
because you don't have time to show what you really know." That's a beautiful argument!