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One of the most important aspects of the MIT education is the kind of people is gathers inside. The ones around us have incredible life stories of success, struggle, careers, relationships, teaching, learning, communication and cultures. However, what is the occasion for sharing that?
In a place where most of people are really full of merit, they should be deeply respectful and appreciative of each other. As it turns out among the fellow MIT students, all the merits cancel out, and we can't devote any more respect to each other. There are lots of semi-artificial methods for bringing people together - classes, projects, collaborative psetting, the oldschool free food approach. However, these methods force us to experience only the limited cross-sections of each other. Whenever one of the students at a pset party starts talking on a topic unrelated to work, this is immediately hurting the work process. Others force him to return to the actual business, because everybode has many more commitments.
The atmosphere of MIT, while being in all ways innovative, creative and productive, is the atmosphere of people busy at every single moment of time and extremely frustrated, stressed out and plainly undersleeping. The opportunities for peer socializing outside all formal and semi-formal events (including student-run events) almost cease, while to a deep degree it is the people of the same age and social status who are most likely to contribute to your worldview. Obviously, it is less justified and more financially costly to maintain a community not working at the edge of their possibilities. But often students work not just at the expence of their leisure time, but at the expense of their basic required socialization, sanity and even health.
The propositions to replace the residential and live-lecture education with the online methods basically leaves us with choice to spend time with the computer or spend time with the computer. The part of social interaction in person, without any digital means, is what makes us humans, and not politely-email-responding robots.