An Ode to Spreadsheets

Evan Farley, ‘20

Your life is a mess, I get it. You have a lab due in two days that you need to start, you’re 220 pages behind in your literature reading, you have not cleaned your room since school started, and your diet consists of one-dollar pizza, whatever your friends will give you, and the occasional pad thai. This is not what high school was like in the movies. What happened to the ruckus parties and pep rallies? No one mentioned that work would be a thing that is important. This whole thing sucks and you can’t wait to get out of here. You really would not survive if it were not for spreadsheets.

You might not have known this yourself but it is an unavoidable fact. It is not an exaggeration to equate the laws of gravity with the importance of spreadsheets. Just as you are stuck to this planet whether you like it or not, spreadsheets are there for you keeping your life together.

And if you think you are something of a comedic genius when you reply “spreadsheets? I’m going to spread something in the sheets tonight.” Just know that you clearly do not understand the gravity of the situation. Firstly, your mom jokes are not funny anymore, and secondly to make light of a serious issue like the spreadsheets that hold your life together, hold society together, is a telling sign that you are not ready for what comes next. There is no reason to be dismissive of what is known as “nature’s glue.”

The potential of a spreadsheet: 2018 Midterm results by county in NYS  Credit: Evan Farley

The potential of a spreadsheet: 2018 Midterm results by county in NYS

Credit: Evan Farley

This is the case for multiple reasons but the two most important ones are the conformity and the underlying messages that spreadsheets hold. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the suburbs as much as the next guy, and I am very glad we get to choose unique outfits every day, but spreadsheets provide a sense of oneness that is unmatched in your day to day life. Unlike in Manhattan, the grid system does not end. For thousands and thousands of cells, you have columns and row. You can say go to row H254 and you will instantly know where you need to go. There is no getting lost in the sheet because everything makes sense. This brings me to the second point: spreadsheets can occasionally seem complicated. Especially when they are filled with numbers and maybe some of the cells are filled in with color and you start looking at the spreadsheet as a whole instead of individual rows and columns and cells. It can be a little overwhelming. But very soon you start to zoom in, and you realize that each row adds something to the sheet. Without each number, the sheet would not be the same. And quickly, you can organize the numbers or whatever else you may keep in your spreadsheet. You can organize from smallest to largest, from a to b, whatever you want to do, it is possible. And soon you learn about functions, there is no need to add each cell, but =SUM will do that for you. It will find the mean, median, and mode. It will count the number of values and convert numbers to Roman Numerals and find the factorial and do so much that math is not something you have to do.

Why, you ask, is any of this the gorilla glue of my life? Because you can relate so well to spreadsheets. Although you can appear messy on the surface, you just want to do good in this world. You just want to organize the masses and create an equal world for all. You have such potential and it is clouded by a bunch of error signs and letters. But just as with spreadsheets, this is a very fixable obstacle. In no time, you will be up and running, neat and organized, and everything will be accounted for. Just make sure you use a spreadsheet.