Why “I Didn’t Know!” Is Never A Valid Excuse

My eye is twitching after grading this week’s discussion questions.  I have decided that a higher percentage than usual of my students hit way too many branches on their fall out of the stupid tree this semester.  Because da-yum they cannot follow simple directions and as juniors and seniors many don’t know what constitutes plagiarism and are having hissy fits that I call them on it and turned them into the Honor Council.

As I say in my syllabus on the first day of class “I didn’t know!” is not a valid excuse.

Rather than wax on about the dumbing down of higher education (which would take a tome), I’d like to take a moment to look at this in a broader context.

People are lazy.  This is, I have become convinced, is the default state of human nature.  Part of the malaise of modern society is that people can’t be bothered to educate themselves about…anything.  They pick someone who they deem “should know” (though usually without any actual basis of legitimacy on why this person should be a so-called “expert”) and just go with what they are told rather than finding out themselves.   It leads to this horrific infantalization of our society because people would rather be told what to do than make some effort on their own.

It doesn’t matter what the topic is.  Which candidate to vote for for president (people pick based on party or what someone says rather than ever looking at their stances on important issues).  How to format an ebook.  Big names (:cough: a bunch of middle aged men) say it’s hard, and others believe them rather than bothering to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.  Whether one form of promotion is a good thing (aka: KDP Select) without actually reading the details and thinking about the ramifications.

In general it seems like so many people put in only the BARE MINIMUM of work for less than mediocre results.  And then they are surprised when problems arise or when something doesn’t work out.   And then trying to claim “I didn’t know!”  Well duh, you didn’t put in the work to find out.  That’s NEVER a valid excuse when the information is out there for the finding.  And it usually is.  Right in front of their faces.

This drives me BONKERS.

Why are people like this?  I mean, I get that we have a lot on our plates and there are never enough hours in the day, but dude, REALLY?  Why can’t people be bothered to read instructions or inform themselves about whatever it is they need to know?  Why are people just taking some random person’s word for it?

So this inquiring mind wants to know your theories.  Why are people too lazy to inform themselves?

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16 comments

  1. It bothers the crap out of me that people are too freaking lazy to do the work themselves and take the easy way out these days – especially in school, when I’m sitting here busting my ass, doing the work to make the grade. When I was actually still in the work force, I was doing the same thing, only I was busting my ass to earn my paycheck and to try to get a raise to put food in my kid’s mouth and clothes on her back and a roof over her head.

    I think the problem with most of the kids in my class is the fact that most of them still live at home with mommy and they don’t have kids of their own. They’ve never had to do for themselves and they don’t know what it’s like to work for a living. They’ve had everything handed to them and they’re so used to having everything handed to them that they’re used to coasting through life. It’s time for them to learn how to WORK for their grade because once they get into REAL LIFE they’re no longer going to have things handed to them and real life is going to KICK THEM IN THEIR ASSES.

    Sorry, I might’ve just stepped on my soap box, but it really irritates me when these kids (and I use the term loosely) pull that crap.

  2. Today must be Sheep day. Yes, people are lazy. But as I commented on Dean Wesley Smith’s latest post: “The New World of Publishing: Following,” most humans are preprogrammed to follow the leader, not to think for themselves.

  3. You too? I just finished grading assignments for my COLLEGE students today and answering questions with a one sentence response (while others are writing paragraphs) just doesn’t cut it. Then there were those who just copied their response from the book…sheesh! I feel your pain.

  4. It’s just so much easier to let other people do the thinking for you. In my early programming days, reading the manuals and following the instructions was part of the job because, nine times out of ten, there wasn’t anyone around to tell you the answer, and the tenth time, the answer was “RTFD!”

  5. What I have found in the writing community is that if you help some people once or twice, they want you to do all the work. I really love helping other writers, but there comes a point where they need to do some things on their own. They’re just hurting themselves by not learning. Sometimes, a writer will learn something new and share it with the rest of us. That’s a good thing, and I always appreciate the help. But I don’t expect someone to hold my hand through the whole process. Like I said, I’m glad to help…but people should do SOME of the work themselves! Thankfully, most of the authors I’ve met are VERY self sufficient.

  6. It’s not just laziness, there’s a distinct lack of reading comprehension growing.

    A woman had a melt down in the KDP forum over the Select program because she scheduled free promo days, and then realized she wasn’t getting paid for those downloads, because you know, they were ‘FREE’. Swore up and down that no, they weren’t free, she hadn’t done a giveaway, just used a couple of promo days.

    And she claimed to be a paralegal. 0_o

    I sometimes think we’re doomed as a species because of this race back towards ignorance. It seems that hardly anyone wants to actually work and earn; they want a free ride to easy money.

    I love reading to see what other writers are doing, and you know I’ve asked for advice. I test everything out, toss what doesn’t work for me, and keep researching to find new things to test out.

  7. Idiocracy wasn’t a documentary? Kidding. But it is scary how little effort people want to put into their lives these days. And the sense of entitlement that they feel is just incredible. It’s our job to hand things to them because they want them, not because they’ve earned or deserve them.

  8. I don’t think I can say anthing that has not already been said. I can’t say wherre it started but I would guess the remote control might have been the first sign.
    Inventor: “Hey, I have this little box that will let people change the channel on thier TV without getting out of thier chairs. Do you think I have a chance of selling it?”
    Patent attorney (or a paralegal) “Sure, this would be wonderful!”
    Scary aint it.

  9. I run a produce business. I have told the person that works for me to make sure not to leave the tomatoes outside when it gets cold. They can either freeze or get below 50 Degrees F which causes them to become mealy. Last night, it went down to 22 F. I called my subordinate and asked him “Did you bring the tomatoes inside last night?” He said “No. I didn’t realize it was going to be that cold.” I told him that it was his job to “realize” when it was going to be cold and that the reality of the matter was that he simply had not done his job. This is an ongoing issue. I find that it is very difficult to find people who are willing to educate themselves as you say.

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