Party Hearty or Study Hearty?

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright October 2017


A year earlier

"I got it!"

Andrew is looking at his messages using his internal communicator. This message is announcing he has been admitted to MIT, a prestigious engineering school in the Boston area.

"Ricky, I got it!" he announces to Ricky-486, his cyber muse, still using his internal communicator.

"I see." says Ricky, "That's wonderful. Who should I let know?"

He thinks for a moment, "Just my parents for now. This is so wonderful! Let me think a moment about who else should know."

He smiles a big smile as he walks down the street. His day has been made.


By the end of the week he tells all his buddies and relatives, and for the next few months he preps up for attending. He finishes graduating from high school and has a nice summer break.

The big day comes and he heads off. He and his parents take driverless transportation to get there -- they are helping him get settled in. He will be living in a dorm there. His parents help him get moved in, wave good-bye, and get in a different driverless car that has just rolled up to begin their journey home. (Dad owns a car, but it is just a hobby for him.)

All that's the good news. The bad news is that Andrew discovers studying at MIT is lots of work, lots of hard work. He struggles, and thinks hard about his choice.

That Spring Break he heads home, and has a heart-to-heart with his father.

Right choice?

"Dad, have I made the right choice? This is so hard! Especially the math." he says to his father as they sit in their family room at home.

Dad is sympathetic. He thinks a moment then says, "Math is hard for everyone, every human, that is. And MIT is hard for all its undergrads. As they told us at the orientation, the goal is to challenge you, stretch you, so you can learn to be a world-shaker."

"Yeah, I remember. ...But man! This stretching business is so hard! I'm not sure I can keep up. I'm not sure I want to keep up."

Dad arches his eyebrows when he hears the want to part. "You're not sure you want to?" Andrew thinks a bit more, then nods. Dad thinks some more.

"Well... It's drastic, but not unheard of: Do you want to take a 'vacation' for the rest of the semester, and explore alternatives?"

"I can do that?" Andrew says.

"You'll lose credit for all the work you've done so far, but, yes, you can. You can take some time off, and start up again in the fall. Or... you can hang in there for the rest of this term and explore over summer break. And again, if you want to get drastic you take fall semester off.

Either way, what I recommend you do is explore some of the other schools in the Boston area. Visit them, see how they operate, see if you like the culture better at one of them. If you do, transfer. That will be a smoother process if you complete this term, but that's not necessary."

Andrew thinks some more, "I'll finish, then explore over the summer."

Andrew goes back, and with a plan in his head squeaks through, then makes arrangements to explore during the summer quarter.


He rooms with Josh, a buddy he made during spring term. He gets in touch with the friends he has made at other colleges in the area. He wants to find out more about the lifestyles and what is getting taught at the schools. From what he's been hearing both can be quite different from what he's been experiencing at MIT.

Josh attends Southie and is taking summer classes. Andrew joins him for his daily routine to experience Southie.

Class room

Andrew and Josh attend a Southie class on physics. Andrew notices right off that there are only a handful of students in the classroom.

Then the teacher comes in and starts the lesson with, "As we started discussing yesterday, this world we live in is a Matrix. It is virtual. It can change from time to time and it doesn't have to be the same world for each of us. We can each experience something different." The teacher goes on.


The class ends and Josh and Andrew walk out. When they get outside Andrew says, "This is what they teach? This isn't anything like what I learned in high school."

Josh looks at him, "What did you learn?"

"That there is just one world, and we all experience this same world, and it has the same physics laws throughout the universe."

Josh frowns at him, "That sounds like pure capitalist class bullshit. ...You believe that?"

"A lot more than what I was hearing in there. That stuff was crazy. It sounds good, but it doesn't match the real world one bit."

"How do you know that?"

"Because I've personally done experiments. I did them in my class in high school, and I messed around doing some in my backyard. Made quite a stink a couple times. Mom complained, but didn't stop me." he looks at Josh, "The results didn't change from day to day."

"That's bullshit. That world you're describing is so... rigid, so unlike my gaming experiences. How are you going to have any fun in it?"

Andrew shrugs, "I manage." then grins, "Manage real well, in fact. And speaking of, lets go find something to eat. I don't know about you, but in my physical world I'm hungry."

"That would be over at the Student Center." They head there.

Student Center

They head for the Student Center. The place is lavish -- the Southie designers clearly felt this was going to be an icon for the school. They have lunch in the Food Court and Andrew looks at what is going on around him. He sees a lot of eating, a lot of internal communicating and even a little smart phoning being done by those who can't afford good internal communication. What he doesn't see is any sign of people being serious about their studies. He doesn't see any study groups, he just sees signs that point to tutoring rooms.

More Class Time

After lunch they sit in on a social psychology class. He notes that this is much better attended than the physics class.

The teacher comes in and says, "The topic today is how astrology relates to social psychology. Astrology is a strong personality definer so it has a big effect on how people relate to each other..."

After a few minutes more of discussion it is clear that the teacher and most of the students believe in astrology. When it ends Andrew walks out of the class with head shaking again.

He looks at Josh and says, "More People's Learning." Josh nods his head, he has been comfortable in the class.

"The stars and planets shape us all." says Josh.

"Even if what they tell you changes from day to day?" Josh looks at him like he doesn't understand, Andrew explains, "That's what the physics class was telling us."

Josh laughs at that, "Yeah, even with that." the inconsistency doesn't bother him at all.


When Andrew gets home he thinks about what he has seen at Southie that day. He is impressed, but in a discouraging way. This kind of teaching will not help him one bit if he wants to be a world-shaker in this physical world we are living in. But the day has not ended yet.

"Party time. We head over to Chi Psi Tau at seven." announces Josh. It's Friday, time to party hearty.

Frat Party

Andrew and Josh head for Chi Psi Tau one of the houses on fraternity row outside the Southie Campus. Southie is a new school and this fraternity row consists of extensively remodeled century old houses -- about all that is old now are the brick facades facing the street.

"Dial up." Josh says as they get out of the car and head for the entrance. There is a crowd of young people on the porch already enjoying themselves. One of them waves at Josh. Josh dials up his wearables into party hearty mode and heads on up to greet his friend. Andrew dials his up, but just a little, he is here to research, not wake up tomorrow morning with nothing but warm fuzzies which he has no idea how he got.

As they come up Josh's friend is looking a bit distant, he's into the party hearty spirit. He says, "Hey, dude, party is going strong. Go on in and partake." He points to the door and motions the pair on in. The door security takes note of the friend's verbal invite and lets them in without any alarm going off.

Inside, Andrew sniffs. Ricky comments as he analyses what Andrew is smelling, "Umm... lots of chemistry going on in here. Be careful what you get into, and don't stay inside too long."

"Why so much chemistry?" wonders Andrew back, "I never encountered this in the dorms."

"Chemistry is cheaper than wearables." explains Ricky, "These folk don't have what you have."

"I guess they will be paying tomorrow morning."

"They will... they will."

Andrew heads on in and partakes of food off the "plain old food" tray. There is another one beside it labeled Special Stuff, he avoids that. Small plate in hand, some munchy in mouth, he looks around. This is the house living room and it is filled with people. They are college age, male and female, and gathered into groups that are talking. He quickly spots the prettiest girl in the room (in his eyes) and she is in a group of two girls and two guys standing near the far wall.

"What's she talking about?" he asks Ricky.

"You want super hearing or lip reading?"

"Lip reading for now."

After a few seconds Ricky gives some dialog, "It's really like, you know, really hard to decide which is better..."

"Where's she from?"

Ricky checks her online resume, "She's attending Katharine Delmont." then adds, "Why not go over and introduce yourself?"

Andrew knows "Katy" Delmont, the students from there get invited to MIT dorm parties. He decides going over is a good idea and he does.

He walks by heated debates, jesting and joking, and dodges some impromptu dance moves. Sitting on the couches lining the walls are partiers who are staring off into the distance, dazed, each in their own head's La La Land. They will come out of that state in just a few minutes after they dial down their wearables when the party ends -- those that are using wearables to get into that state, that is. The others will rely on their buddies to get them home. He reaches the group and listens in.

One of the guys, Guy One, says, "This is such bullshit! Why are they putting up a statue of a dead white guy?"

Guy Two says, "Hey! It's just a hologram. It will change in a second. And, from what I hear, you, the viewer, can change it to whoever you want to see." he looks hard at the Guy One then says with mock amazement on his face, "You're seeing a dead white guy?" There are laughs around at that. Guy One looks a little confused. Guy Two then adds, "Just kidding. They haven't upgraded the software yet."

"Who would you want to see up there?" asks the girl Andrew is interested in.

Guy One answers pretty quickly, "I'll go with Malcolm X." the other girl says, "I'd like to see Eleanor Roosevelt." Guy Two grins and says, "I'll go for Romeo and Juliet... in bed together." There are more laughs around. The girl turns to Andrew, "How about you?"

Andrew says, "Hi all, I'm Andrew. I'm just visiting. What statue are we talking about?"

"Hi Andrew, I'm Julie." says the interesting girl. The others chime in, "I'm Bob. I'm Charley. I'm Cynthia." There are fist-bumps around. Julie continues, "This is the statue they just put up in front of the Student Center. Right now it's showing the Southie school founder, Jacob Koch. He founded this school ten years ago and died last year."

Bob says in a joking country drawl, "So... you're not from around here, are you."

Andrew smiles, "I'm going to MIT, but I'm looking to transfer."

"Why is that?" says Charley.

"It's a lot of work there."

"I can believe that!" says Charley, then adds, "Yeah, this is a much better party school. These frats sure help out on that!"

Just after he says that there's an announcement, "Dance time starting in the basement. We have our own DJ Johnny manning the console."

Julie says, "Umm... sounds good to me! Who's up for some floor time?"

"I'm in." says Andrew, "I'll pass" say the rest. Andrew and Julie head down.

Andrew's mom had him take dancing lessons on the weekends for a few months. It was a head-scratcher for him at the time, but he learned how to move on the floor. And now he is getting real happy he did. He winds up his wearables a bit more, and he and Julie hit it off on the floor nicely.

As the second dance ends Ricky says, "The chemistry in the air here is starting to affect you."

"So it's not just my wearables that are making me feel so good." replies Andrew.

Ricky chuckles a little, "More than wearables plus air, I suspect."

Andrew thinks a bit, gets it, then says to Julie, "The air in here is getting to me. Want to go outside for a break?" She smiles and they head out on to the porch. It is quieter and the air is much cleaner.

"What are you studying?" Julie asks.

"Well, I've been getting into mixing engineering with programming AI. I've just finished being a freshman and we don't have to pick a specific major until some time in sophomore year."

"Sounds like tough stuff."

"Yeah, it is. Tough enough that I'm considering transferring to someplace easier."


"I'm considering it. That's why I'm here tonight. I'm researching Southie." Julie stares for a moment, not sure what to say, Andrew changes the topic, "How about you? What are you up to?"

"Oh, I'm majoring in Office Administrator stuff, serious administrator stuff. I want to work for a real company, not some dilettante outfit."

"Sounds ambitious."

"It is. My folks are ambitious and I've picked that up from them."

"What brings you here?"

Julie smiles, "I like to party, too."

Andrew looks around then says, "Want to do some dancing in a place that's quieter?"

Julie smiles even wider, "Yeah, I'd like that."

Andrew offers his arm, she takes it, and they walk out to the street. Ricky has called up a car and it arrives after they have waited only a minute. They hop in and head for a quiet club nearby that Ricky has located. It has a dance floor and an old-style band that plays mellow music. When the band isn't playing what they want, they kick in their AR. For the end of the session they get into ballroom-style slow dancing and follow up the dance with a light kiss.

They have a good time and promise to meet again next week.

The next day Andrew wakes up feeling fine. He's learned a lot and is now much more aware of how different each college's culture is. It's Saturday, so he researches Che Guevara University, an on-line university famous for its emphasis on politics. Once again he finds a lot of course work that is emotionally pleasing. This time it is all about how to organize protests and rail against the machinations of "The Man". But once again what is being taught doesn't jibe much with his understanding of how the real world works.

Talk with Dad again

"Wow Dad. Those other school really teach weird stuff, and those other students really want to believe what they are getting taught. It is... so way off from what's happening in the real world!"

Dad nods, "They are getting taught what they want to be taught."

"How can they get away with that? How can the schools get away with that?"

Dad sighs, "Who among those people you met is actually making something -- making something that other people want to use?"

Andrew thinks about this for a moment, "...well ...none. The robots are making all the products, and they are doing all the serving in foods, and driving cars and such."

"Exactly. These kids don't have to make the real world work for them. As a result they can learning anything they want, and they do." he looks at Andrew, "I'm hoping you want to be different. I'm hoping you want to change this real world we live in, change it for the better."

Andrew doesn't think too long before he answers, "I do!" and with just a little more thinking, "So that's why MIT is tough, right?"


"OK... now that I understand that. I can live with it.

Yes, I want stay at MIT and finish my studies there. It will be tough, but it will be well worth it."

Dad pats Andrew on the shoulder, "You're making your dad proud, Andrew." he checks with his communicator, "What to go get some dinner?"

The two walk out of the house like they are best of buddies.



--The End--