On Cheating and Other Vices: The Dawn of Automation
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Pope Gregory the First, like 4th century monk Evagrius Ponticus before him, had a particular fixation with the many sins and vices that befall the human species. It is in fact Gregory himself to whom the formally compiled “Seven Deadly Sins” of Christianity are attributed. If the mood should ever strike you to take a glance at this renown cardinal countdown, you might take special notice of number four: the vice of sloth. For about a year now it has been this very sin that has more or less constituted my primary source of income. As you might recall from my last article, I help college students cheat their way toward their degree and ultimate ambitions. This usually means writing their weekly, midterm and final essays, but in the event of online classes, it has also meant completing every other assignment that might arise over the course of a semester. The reasons these students turn to homework forgery are different in every case. Some don’t have time, others lack the writing and research skills, but a healthy majority simply don’t have the will or inclination to do their own work. If Pope Gregory or Mr. Ponticus were alive today they might have something to say about such behavior. If Pope Gregory or Mr. Ponticus could observe the decay of modern academia and the casualness with which so many now employ its faculties, they might point to a certain little list and say “Aha! It’s just as we suspected…” Then again, what would these two men have to say about me?
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There is a kind of entity in the enterprise of culture. It’s been gradually taking shape for centuries, and in this era of passivity and consumption is just now reaching its final fruition. I refer not to sloth in and of itself, for that is too weak a word. This entity, instead, is some kind of collective Pied Piper, luring and derailing human progress ever closer to a decisive edge. It’s automation that I speak of. It’s the fallout of the agricultural, industrial and digital revolutions, and the fact that generation Y and every generation yet to come will live in a mere synthesis of an original blueprint. And that’s ok, but this reality carries with it a few unsightly implications. Firstly, it implies that I’m not even remotely close to considering a job that doesn’t allow me to sleep as long as I want, take my sweet ass time, and turn down work as often as I feel like it. It implies secondly that those with an eye on prestigious careers in whatever sort of medical, business or scientific fields will now and then be given to unbridled deception and general tomfoolery. It’s sloth, to be sure, but a new version rooted in the source code of society. Automation has the overwhelming capacity to supplant motivation and initiative, and that’s just something we have to live with.
If you’ve read this far, I apologize for the odd trajectory of whatever kind of point it is I’m trying to make. I tend to lose myself in the bigger picture at the expense of critical details, and that’s ok. But it’s winter time and school has resumed and I know a whole new crop of kids are tearing their hair out over the fall of Rome and the Reign of Terror, and my checking account is looking a little squeamish to boot. It’s been a couple months since my last job, so I’m faced now with either biting the bullet and finding something honest, or taking up where I left off. I’d very much like to say that my ghost writing days are behind me, but that would most likely be a lie. Hopefully one day I will abandon this collegiate con game. Until then, I’ve got my old pal Denial to keep me company.