University Survival Kit

Scholarship Essay: Cheating in the Age of Information

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Culture and technology are undeniably fluid. This truth is evident in the progression from the Stone Age to now. We can even see it in the transition from the 1970s to now. Cheating has not been impervious to this evolution. Not many years ago, finding someone to cheat on your wife with was much harder – you actually had to talk to her! Plagiarism is similar. We will explore how much the culture of today has affected cheating.

Let us begin by looking at a few of the negative impacts that the information age has had on plagiarism.

Computers and the internet have forever changed our lives. As you are creating, you simply have to turn to a computer and find a wealth of information at your fingertips. The simple tool of ‘copy and paste’ allows vast amounts of text or pictures to be essentially stolen in a few seconds’ time. As networks and websites multiply and grow, more and more ideas are so easily available. I can find thoughts and ideas from someone half a world away. I barely have to think to find new and exciting views. This lack of creativity and originality shows in our ‘own’ creations.

Internet searches alone stand in an isolated culture-altering zone. They make so many of our problems. The uses of the search directly for plagiarism have already been explained, but here I want to explore the attitude and practices they cause. Google and other search engines make so many answers arrive so easily, that we forget how to think. We no longer have to work to construct our own thoughts. There is already a blueprint and contractors set up to make anything we want. We are not required to ponder or analyze themes and ideas. The roadmap is already there. Our brains are changing.

Social networking is quite possibly the biggest culprit of the mindset that allows plagiarism. Facebook allows me to share posts, stories, videos, and other updates with a click of a mouse or tap of a finger. Pinterest lets me take photos or memes, put them on my own board, and act as if they are my own. Nearly all of what we share comes from other people. It is truly amazing when an original idea can get as many ‘likes’ as the funny anecdote you shared from somewhere else. We adopt the mentality that we have created, when, in reality, we have simply copied.

In contrast, there are many positive effects of this new culture. When used correctly, these same negatives can be used for much good. We do not have to waste time going to the library, finding the right book, and reading the whole thing. We can access the ideas that others have had and use them as a building-block to spur on original, unique thoughts. There is no sense in reinventing the wheel. Networking allows us to discuss and develop ideas with peers without geographical boundaries. The key is to not be caught in the destructive mentalities.

In essence, we have been given wonderful tools that, when used properly, will not force us to use ideas already formulated. Growth comes with technology and we will continue to grow. The beauty of advancing technology is that there is constant evidence of new ideas. We should be inspired by these wonders and move ever onward into the next age; creating, advancing, and progressing.

You’ve just read another great writing crafted by Scott Christiansen, our Scholarship participant!