Column: Has cheating become normalized?

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Column: Has cheating become normalized?

By Audrey Fisher, Newsroom managing editor

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Recently, I was in sociology and we were in the middle of our culture unit. One of the focuses of this unit is examining American culture in comparison to other cultures around the world. To do this we had an activity where we read three articles about cheating in the United States and then compared it to other countries. The main points of the articles were that cheating has become normalized in today’s society and that it occurs because of the pressure that has been put on students to pass and succeed.

At first none of this had caught my attention. But then, as I continued to think about it and I continued to participate in all of my classes I started thinking. It became apparently clear to me that maybe, this was the case.

Of course Middletown has an honor code, like most schools do. And cheating, is by no means accepted by any of the staff we have here. But frequently I watch students try to push the limits on what cheating really is. And I watch them push the limit on what they can get away with before they get caught, or before there are serious repercussions.

There is an extreme amount of pressure on students now, and it doesn’t always come directly from the parents or guardians who raise the child. Often times, it comes from the student itself, as a direct result of society’s expectation of us all to succeed.

When you think about it, the people that we look down on the most as a society are the people who aren’t succeeding. And the people we hold up and praise the most are the ones who are. On top of that, we’ve grown up in an era where everything is easily accessed by everyone.

Think of someone like Kim Kardashian. We hear about everything she does. She is idolized amongst young people. We’re able to watch every part of her life from the comfort of our own home. So imagine, if she were to mess up really bad, we would all know. And most of us – as much as we hate to admit it – would be talking about it.

None of us want that for ourselves. We don’t want to be the person that’s being talked about because we made a simple mistake. And when we do mess up it feels like everyone will know. I’ve experienced this myself before. As a student who holds herself to extremely high standards, messing up feels like the worst thing in the world. While I wouldn’t cheat to prevent it, I know a handful of people who, if pushed to the right limits, would.

Additionally, cheating goes beyond the normal standards of academics. You can cheat in sports, in relationships, in competitions, races, games, projects, and so much more. And because we all want to be the best, and we all want to be successful, it becomes increasingly easier to take the easy way out of things. In a race that feels unbearable, it’s easier to skip half the course and be praised as the winner then it is to finish and be considered mediocre.

But why are there seemingly no repercussions? Sure, in school you can get in trouble, and in a race you could get disqualified. In a relationship you can get broken up with. In a sport you can get kicked off the team. But beyond that, hardly anyone seems to be talking about it. No one seems to care.

It comes back to the fact that cheating has become normalized. As a society we’ve put the pressure on ourselves to be the best we can be at whatever we do. To fight this, we need to continue to hold people accountable for when the do take the easy road out. But we also need to teach people that they don’t always have to be the best at everything.

You’re allowed to fail every once in a while. You’re allowed to do bad on a test. You’re allowed to make those mistakes. Because at the end of the day, that’s all we have to learn from. So keep making those mistakes and don’t let the pressure that is put on you force you to take the easier route. Because those are the things that make you successful.

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