personal statement

In 2020, I lived with a Trump supporter and we kept having the same conversation. It would start with an innocent comment, some headline from a deep corner of the internet:

“Wasn’t this debunked? Is this information out of date?”

“No,” they would respond, “this source is well cited.”

“Have any government organizations confirmed this? Any official sources?”

“Official sources don’t want you to know about this.” they would reply, “They’re not telling you the whole story.”

We would arrive at an impasse. What I considered trustworthy, they deemed malicious. What I considered honest, they considered fabricated.

My roommate and I frequently talked like this following the election. Trump did not concede. Instead, he stood in front of millions and declared the election stolen and the system rigged.

The more my roommate and I talked, the further apart we drifted. News outlets, government reports, voter results - nothing could bring us closer to a common reality.

This brought about a personal crisis.

I was raised to be skeptical. Points over the dinner table were rarely made without some argument. And changing opinion or abandoning a point was familiar too.

But what was happening around me felt different. Norms and traditions were getting deconstructed, but nothing took their place. Arguments were based solely on emotion. I saw conspiracies rooted in suspicion, malicious intent and cynicism.

I struggled to reconcile these narratives with my own view of the world. And the pandemic that followed only surfaced more of the same themes: Norms being deconstructed, the trustworthiness of institutions questioned, etc.

Around that time, I graduated and started working in the tech sector. Slowly, I began noticing the type of work that engaged me. I wasn’t so much interested in building features. I was more interested in how features were built.

This preoccupation may be unique to programming. Where a carpenter doesn’t usually build their own saws, a programmer is more likely to. Software begets software begets software: Everything is lines of code.

I began thinking about other topics this way. Not focusing on the things themselves, but the method by which they were created. Did a system fail because of the programmer or because of what tool they were using? If a carpenter uses a faulty level to build a house, it’s hardly their fault when it turns out crooked.

I realized what really unsettled me about Trump's election story was not the narrative itself, but the way in which it was constructed.

To me, it was created using a bad tool: faulty logic. I realized that what I believed in was not my election narrative, but my method of reasoning. Applying logic based on historical context, trusted sources and renowned institutions had become my tool and I held it to be the correct one.

But I was still left unsteady. As I’d learned before, “trusted” and “renowned” held various definitions. One man’s renowned institution is another man’s biased propaganda machine.

Who’s to say my method was correct? Which method of reasoning determines our common reality? I felt unanchored. Uncertain.

Then Trump’s various claims went to court. The law denied his narrative outright. A story that had convinced millions was broken apart and deconstructed.

Reading about those cases helped me regain my footing. I could take comfort in the existence of a shared reality, backed by rules that we have made great efforts to maintain.

I realized that this is the point of the law - to apply some objectivity in resolving competing narratives. And to serve as a record to prevent us from making the same errors again.

I started thinking of those rules as a collectively maintained tool to determine our common reality.

I consider this standardized method and its rules to be a foundation of our society. Without it, the loudest voice wins and we are doomed to repeat mistakes of the past. With it, history is acknowledged and logic prevails.

To conclude, my journey from software to law is not a leap, but a logical progression. In the same way that I have enjoyed discovering and using software tools that shape our digital world, I want to understand the tools of law that help shape our society.

I’m eager for the opportunity to immerse myself in the study of law at McGill.