Have you ever seen one of those videos where hundreds of freshly-hatched baby sea turtles are all racing towards the ocean? They’re running as hard as their baby turtle joints can manage, probably squawking and scrabbling with each other, all in an effort to reach the ocean. Interestingly, a similar thing happens on Facebook in December and May, every year. Scores of college students post links to articles about them “making” the President’s or Dean’s List, thirsting for affirmation in the form of likes, loves, or the new thankful flowers just as baby sea turtles thirst for the ocean. Granted, my simile isn’t perfect, as baby sea turtles are cute, and these college students tend to annoy me, and drive me from social media for the week, but you get the point.
I don’t want to see your 4.0 GPA on Facebook. I don’t want to see your 3.6 GPA on Facebook. Heck, I don’t even want to see your 1.2 GPA, although that might be mildly amusing. There is no real point to you posting your GPA, except to garner affirmation from fellow college students. In addition to being annoying, the practice of GPA-posting hurts oneself and others, and should be avoided.
GPA-posting typically stems from pride, one of the seven deadly sins. Granted, you can be proud of your accomplishments in college, but there is a line between being proud of one’s own work, and bragging about it over social media. I would even say it’s perfectly acceptable to send your congratulatory form letter to your parents, partially to show them that you’re doing well at college, but also to say “Your money’s being put to good use.” The only purpose of posting one’s GPA on Facebook, however, is to garner digital affirmation. Once you do get affirmation from your grades, then you will be all the more likely to repeat the practice the next semester, in an effort to get the typical buzz which accompanies affirmation.
One’s GPA is not just determined by how intelligent one is. Someone who is taking 19 hours of upper level classes is going to have a considerably more difficult time getting a 4.0 than someone taking 12 hours of core classes. In addition, many college students work during school, pulling in anywhere from 10-40 hours of work in addition to their classes. There’s also Greek life, theater, intramurals, and 1001 other extracurricular activities that one can participate in at college. If someone compares their GPA to the perfect 4.0 on Facebook, they aren’t taking into account all the extra-curricular activities and external factors which have affected the school year, which can affect them deeply.
Think about what your post can do to the egos of those who didn’t do quite as well as you grade-wise. Some people aren’t as good at testing, or paper-writing, or public speaking as you, so they get a lower grade over the semester. Maybe they’ll realize that grades are a terrible way of determining the worth of a human being (something that grade-posters have yet to discover), but chances are good that they will see their lower GPA as symbolic of laziness, a lack of understanding, or even stupidity. Do you want to risk belittling someone else? I compare myself to others nonstop, and it’s never a good thing. I beat myself up because I can’t do one small thing as good as somebody else, so I can only imagine what somebody might feel if their sole focus in college was on grades. You could really damage someone for a long time by bragging about your GPA on Facebook.
Lastly, I want to ask the (extremely nerdy) question, does this cultivate virtue? All humans are trying to better themselves—cultivate virtue—and indulging in the bragging, prideful nature of GPA-posting does not accomplish that. In addition, as demonstrated, the practice hurts others, which we should be trying to avoid. The practice is annoying, prideful, and damaging to both oneself and others. With all of this in mind, I urge you to think carefully before you share your “President’s List” invite later this week.