6 min read

The End of Essays

Today's WTF? Is a short story collaboration between myself and Maria Telincho. A few days ago we were conversing about ChatGPT and the impact it would have on society and the random idea to create a short story that incorporated the Gen AI as a character with real prompts as dialogue came up. This is that story.



I can’t do this, I just can’t.

I look at the screen all night and all I want to do is look away. I would rather vacuum the carpets or dust spider webs out of corners then sit here and write this essay.

I fidget with paper and my textbook and the pockets of my pants, but my fingers will not type a single word. I’m starting to think my mind is disintegrating with boredom and dread. I hate writing essays.

“Think about topic sentences for each paragraph,” said my teacher in class. “Remember your punctuation!” I imagine her voice and all I can hear is wah wah wah like a teacher from the Peanuts.

Is my “E” key peeling?

What was that song Jason was singing in class? Let me look it up.

7pm. 8pm. 9pm. 9:58

I’m having a what-I-learned-in-boating-school moment :P, I text to a friend. They don’t answer.

Focus, Elijah, focus.

Okay, I got this. 1,500 words on…

Sh*t, I need to get off TikTok.

What is the most important issue facing the country today? How am I supposed to know I’m only a junior in high school! Isn’t this someone’s job? I’m never going to get into MIT and then I’ll never get onto the MIT robotic team.

“Alexa, what is the most important issue facing the country today?”

Hmm, I don’t know that.

“What do you actually know then, Alexa?”

Hmm, I don’t see any Smart Home devises.


There has to be another way. Maybe I can buy an essay online. Here is buyessays.com! $200? I can’t buy that!

There has to be another way. I type, essays for sale. All the same results –too expensive. Pre-written essays. Still all for sale. Do people really buy all their essays? Essay robot.

Page after page of essay generating sites and articles of the emerging use of AI at colleges across the country. I am desperate enough to click on them all and read page after page of mixed reviews. Is it stealing? Is it plagiarizing? Is it moral? It hardly seems like a moral decision to me, but could I get in trouble?

Have you ever used ChatGPT? I text Jason.

No, what’s that?

It writes essays for you you just have to put in the topic and then it generates so many words but in an essay.

Nice! Are you using it?


But I want to. Maybe I’ll just see what it can do. I’ll just put in the topic and see what happens. I’ll just type, what is the most important issue facing the country today?

It is difficult to identify a single most important issue facing any country, as different people and communities may prioritize different issues based on their experiences and perspectives. Some of the issues that are often cited as significant challenges facing many countries today include:

  • Economic inequality: The gap between the wealthy and the poor is a significant issue in many countries, with some people having access to far more resources and opportunities than others.
  • Climate change: The impact of climate change, including rising sea levels, more frequent extreme weather events, and shifts in temperature and precipitation patterns, is a major concern for many people around the world.
  • Political polarization: Many countries are facing increasing political divisions and a lack of consensus on key issues, which can make it difficult to address problems and move forward as a society.
  • Healthcare: Access to quality healthcare is a critical issue for many people, with concerns about affordability, availability, and the impact of policy decisions on healthcare outcomes.
  • Racial and social justice: Many countries are grappling with issues of racial and social inequality, including police violence, discrimination, and the impacts of historical injustice.

These are just a few examples, and the specific issues facing a particular country will depend on its unique history, culture, and current circumstances.

Woah. That was actually not a bad answer. I just need to pick one of these things to write about. I type, why is economic inequality a problem in America?

Economic inequality, which refers to the gap between the wealthy and the poor, is a significant issue in the United States and many other countries. There are several reasons why economic inequality can be a problem:

  • It can limit social mobility: When the gap between the rich and the poor is large, it can be difficult for people who are born into disadvantaged circumstances to move up the economic ladder. This can create a cycle of poverty that is difficult to break.
  • It can lead to social and political unrest: Economic inequality can fuel social and political tensions, as people who feel left behind may become disillusioned with the political system and feel that their needs are not being met.
  • It can undermine social cohesion: Economic inequality can lead to a lack of trust and social cohesion within a society, as people who feel that they are not being treated fairly may be less likely to cooperate and work together.
  • It can have negative impacts on health and well-being: Research has shown that economic inequality can have negative impacts on health and well-being, as people who are struggling financially may face stress, anxiety, and other health problems.
  • It can limit economic growth: Economic inequality can also limit economic growth, as it can discourage people from investing in education and other opportunities that could help them improve their circumstances. This can lead to a less productive and dynamic economy overall.

Holy sh*t, I will never have to write another essay again.

When the teacher flops my paper down on my desk, she looks at me and smiles, “great work Elijah!”

That’s new. I look down at my paper and a sharp red A is circled and underlined. My mind begins to race with ideas.

First, I talk to Nick. He doesn’t do well in any subject. Then I find Sophia, who prefers to write in math. I recruit Jose and Martin and Abby. None of them want to write their essays either so for a much smaller price than online, I offer to write the essays for them But, they don’t know I’m using AI and I don’t plan to tell them.

I have four papers due at the end of the week and only one is mine. Usually, I would put it off and take apart my old computer to put it back together again. I do this nervous tick whenever I am stressed about an essay and want to waste time, but now within a few hours I have them all written.

“Another great paper!” says my teacher in class the following week. She also tells me to look up the Young Voices Award. “Its for talented new writers. I entered your work into the competition!”

“You sent in my work?”

“Yes, it’s a teacher nominated competition. You couldn’t enter on your own. Your work has impressed me and some of the other teachers here” she smiles at me warmly, “You could win a college scholarship!”

I google the competition on my phone in-between classes. Winner of this year’s competition will be grated admission to Cornell University and a cash prize.

I quickly search for robotics at Cornell and the results show nothing. My stomach starts to hurt. I want to go to MIT. Week after week I am stressed about the possibilities of winning this competition, but I continue to write papers for my friends. Maybe this is how I can pay for MIT. And maybe with the cash prize I won’t have to take on loans.

After a month of waiting my teacher hunts me down in the hallway.

“Elijah! You’ve won! You got a full scholarship to Cornell’s School of Writing!”

I take the packet of papers from her hands and look through them. School of Writing? I didn’t know they had a specific school of writing. Also in the packet was a promise of $25,000 writing grant if I accept the scholarship.

Everyone around me is cheering and giving me hugs. I can’t believe I won and I can’t believe they are giving away huge prizes to essays like mine. As more and more people come up to congratulate me and the guilt starts to set in. Did I really deserve this? Do I even want this?

I type Is it morally wrong to use AI to write school papers?

Using AI to write papers for school could be considered academically dishonest, as it would be a form of plagiarism. Plagiarism is the act of using someone else's work or ideas without proper attribution, and it is generally considered to be a serious ethical offense in academia. In addition, using AI to write papers for school would not allow you to demonstrate your own understanding of the subject matter and could potentially deprive you of the opportunity to learn and grow as a student. For these reasons, it is generally considered to be morally wrong to use AI to write papers for school.

I already know this answer, but I have made up my mind.

In school the next day I hand the packet back to the teacher. She looks at me with excitement then leafed through and saw all my writing samples, application completed and other required documents for Cornell.

“You have a very bright future ahead of you!” she smiles.

I push away all the guilt, all the doubt, all the questioning. This is my path now.