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Man Over Machine

The fall semester is quickly fleeting, and that can mean only one thing: it’s time for a new round of course selection at The George Washington University.

God help us all.

Since my arrival in Foggy Bottom, I have made every effort to repress the trauma of my last experience with GW’s unforgivably buggy registration system. Error messages. Confusion. Anger. For three hours I waited in panic, unsure as to how many other students had been affected by the online outage.

When the smoke cleared, I was forced to draft an impromptu schedule from the limited number of classes that were still available, many of which held no relevance to my intended major. I do my best not to remain bitter. After all, I entered college with a healthy assortment of AP credits, and I can surely rebound from a single semester of mismatched coursework.

But what if it happens again? A similar disaster could have the potential to undermine my chances of acceptance into medical school. An administrator would understand that. A computer would not.

As college students, we rely upon technology far more than we care to admit. Whether submitting an assignment online, purchasing textbooks, or scanning library databases, we trust that the computers around us will somehow support our best interests. Has the circuitry of modern comforts become so deeply ingrained in our lives that we couldn’t live without it?

There was a time when people relied on other people to accomplish tasks. We trusted in our friends and neighbors, much in the same way that they trusted us. There was no electronic middleman, nor did we expect that there ever would be. If I had attended The George Washington University in the early 1990s, online class registration wouldn’t have existed. I would have most likely filled out a schedule by hand and dropped it off at an administrative office. No conflict. No worry. Just one individual taking care of another.

It is more or less of a disconcerting notion, therefore, to consider how sincerely our lives as students are now dependent upon the proper function of the machines around us. If the GWorld system falters for even a day, we stand unable to place a purchase. And if somehow the registration webpage again chooses to crash, I finish the school year having achieved a useless assortment of credits.

It’s time that our school – and perhaps society in general – makes an attempt to get back to basics. If something can be completed satisfactorily in person, then why have it done on a computer? By viewing technology as the key to our own success, we only set ourselves up for disappointment when it ultimately fails.

With class registration looming in the distance, I’ll take man over machine any day.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. October 30, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    Very well, my good sir. We shall declare war on the machines. Johnny! Git yer gun!

    Truth is, we have to face the reality of this whole digital system. Is there enough manpower to do it? Then again, if we pay $60,000 per year, we should get what we paid for.

  2. October 30, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    I totally agree! I also get sick of all this faulty technology! Many times I have wished that we could go back to the basics, pen, paper and filing cabinets! However, I feel like man has become to dependent on machines that there’s no way out of using them. You can’t get anything done without them. Everyone thinks that all this advancement in technology has made man so much smarter but I believe thats its actually made us lazier and stupider because they do everything for us. If you take away all of the fancy machinery we’ll see how much intellect, or lack there of, we actually have.

  3. October 30, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Well spoken, I agree completely. I often think about how reliant we are on technology for things, especially here at college. I agree that it hasn’t necessarily made us smarter, although there is an unlimited amount of knowledge now at our fingertips. Because of this weekend’s crazy weather, one of my friends lost power and internet at her school. When I heard that, I immediately felt bad for her and felt thankful that we didn’t have anything of that magnitude happen here. I couldn’t imagine a weekend without power or internet! However, I realized the sad reality of that – in a dorm full of 1,000 students, how could I possibly be worried about having fun without technology? Our society depends far too heavily on electricity for things we used to get along fine without.

  4. October 30, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    I agree, when i was signing for classes I got one I wanted in the first round. I was so nervous. My dad walked in and I screamed at him. I was recreating my schedule until two weeks before I got here. Thank you GWeb. The internet has not improved since I arrived. I have had to wait and have you reset your Net ID? because when my room mate and I did it we were locked out of the GW1X and had to go to Gelman Basement for some emergency help. Did I mention this was midterms week? We rely on technology so much and have to have it for everything we do. My friend had my phone in her purse and left early last night with it, I was so lost until I could get ahold of her. I felt so weird without it. I needed to have my phone! My life is way too centered around technology.

  5. October 31, 2011 at 1:02 am

    I also agree. For most of my classes my work and my notes are all posted online. For some I can event turn in the homework online, not even having to touch a pencil. It is kind of a bad thing because if there was some sort of a technical difficulty we would all have to resort to a plan B but at the same time, technology has so many beneficial aspects as well. Also, at the same time it’s not healthy to blindly rely on technology but if we didn’t the opportunity to expand it would be much lesser. I mean technology has become such a big part of our lives and its only going to get even bigger in the near future.

  6. dj74
    November 1, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I was having a lot of trouble the first couple of week of school because I had to get into the rhythm of periodically checking my GW email, as well as Blackboard, PBWorks, and MyMathLab.com (I understand there are various versions of this site for economics and history as well). I was never so dependent on a computer in my life. The ongoing excuse in high school for not doing homework was “my computer froze/broke, my printer wasn’t working, my Internet was down”. But now we legitimately cannot do any work whatsoever without the Internet. The teachers don’t even tell you what the homework is when you ask; they simply say, “Check Blackboard”. I understand the need for everyone to go Green and save paper, but increasing the amount of electricity the University uses isn’t really the most effective way of doing this (because it also just increases tuition proportionally). I’m fine with using my computer to check an email the professor sent, but I wish I could just be told what the homework is, instead of hearing “Check Blackboard” five times a day.

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