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.