I could write for days about the strange things which pop up on Facebook. It’s something of a blight on our society, but I can’t help looking, like it’s a mangled wreck on the side of the highway, because it kind of is.
Today’s Facebook oddity is the math problem phenomenon. Very few people enjoyed math all that much back when we were sitting in junior high, staring out the window, or in my case, drawing three-D boxes on my spiralbound notebook. Suddenly, decades later, people are putting tricky math problems on Facebook statuses with messages which say things like: “50% of people get this wrong“. The problems do not require a pencil and paper, much less a calculator. I’m sure that thousands of people feel obligated to type in their answers to prove that even though they barely eeked out a “C” in 7th grade math, they’ve brightened up considerably since.
Today’s math stumper, posted by a Facebook friend of mine, is seen above. Let’s work this one out together as a class, shall we? Before we get started, let’s review the order of operations as it relates to this problem. Multiplication and division outrank addition and subtraction, and so they get done first. If both multiplication and division are in the same equation, then we start from the left and work our way over. Sound familiar? I know, it’s been a while. Just remember everyone, answering wrong is not a crime, but all of your Facebook friends will see what an idiot you are.
Now then, let’s begin with the first multiplication problem: One times zero equals…anyone…? Mr. Einstein, you had your hand up first. Right you are Albert, anything times zero is going to equal zero!
Next, we move onto the division; what is two divided by two? Miss Kardashian? Hello? Kim?! Glad you could pull yourself from the revery of whatever you’re staring out the window at to give us the answer. Miss Kardashian, I don’t care whether Kanye has his tongue stuck to the flagpole or not, what I care about is you telling the class what we get when we divide two by two.
I can see from the blank look on your face that you’re not getting this. Let me put it into different terms for you: If the network has given you TWO reality shows, how many groups of TWO reality shows will you have? No, I didn’t realize you actually have five of them dear, but I was speaking hypothetically. No Kim, “hypothetically” has nothing to do with needles. Tell you what, go back to the window and see if the fire trucks are here for Kanye yet.
Okay…Now to put it all together…Six minus zero is six, and two divided by two equals one. So…six plus one equals..Anyone? People, please – we covered this years ago – it’s basic stuff…you KNOW this! Six and one is…? Albert, let someone else answer, please!
(I’m pacing the front of the room, anxiously rolling the piece of chalk between my thumb and index finger, looking from face to face as you guys nervously avert your eyes. Albert is there in the front row, looking a little pissed-off with his hands folded in front of him – he’s having another horrific hair day. Kim has stopped looking out the window and is texting someone from a phone that has more diamonds on it than the entire contents of my wife’s jewelry box. I’m wondering whether tenure will even exist by the time I qualify for it. I’m struggling to resist the urge to whip the blackboard eraser at one of you when the bell rings)
Maybe I was wrong to think of those math problems as being so easy. Maybe half of all responders really DO get these wrong.
What’s that Kim? No, actually, I was right, “half” and “50%” are actually the same amount. It’s nice to know that you were listening, kind of. Kim, shouldn’t you be heading to English class this period? I heard today’s lecture is about Moby Dick. No Kim…I’m fairly confident it’s about a whale.