Election 2016

Hey Students, Stop Asking Noam Chomsky for Help with Your Homework

He has answers, but you won’t like them.

Photo Credit: Lehigh University/Flickr

Noam Chomsky is pretty baffled by more than half of Americans; the amount of U.S. residents who will use Facebook this year. Chomsky is in the minority. He doesn’t use social media and detests when users refer to acquaintances they have the most minute exchanges with as “friends.”

“Adolescents,” Chomsky clarified, “Who think they have 500 friends, ‘cause they have 500 people on their Facebook account, but these are the kind of friends whose relation to you is if you say, ‘I bought a sandwich,’ they say, ‘did it taste good?’ That’s a kind of interaction, but very different from having a real friend.’” 

Chomsky may be 87 years old, but he's been working in the field of computer science at MIT since the 1950's. And though he's been retired for over a decade, it doesn't stop new generations from contacting him - and soon afterwards, getting frustrated. 

“I get a ton of correspondence, mostly email," Chomsky said. "I’ll often get questions from high school students saying, ‘I have to write a paper Thursday on the French Revolution,’ or whatever it may be. I tell them, ‘Well here’s somebody you could look up. And the next question routinely comes back, ‘How can I find it on the internet.’ And sometimes these come from prep schools - places with good libraries, educated students privileged students, I say, ‘Well walk across the street to the school library and look it up.'"

Not a tough request, right?

"'I don’t have time,' they say. 'I want to be able to get it instantly on the internet and not have to think about it,''" Chomsky relayed.

But, as laughable as it is, who in America hasn't felt that way before? 

“I’m not offering this a a critique of the internet, but there’s a lot of factors involved," Chomsky explained. 


Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.

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