On May 14th, Twitter user Jared took the social media platform by storm through his "Shopping Cart Theory", which supposedly determines a person's moral character and their ability to self-govern through whether or not they decide to return a shopping cart to its proper location.
"The shopping cart is the ultimate litmus test for whether a person is capable of self-governing, the post states. To return the shopping cart is an easy, convenient task and one which we all recognize as the correct, appropriate thing to do. To return the shopping cart is objectively right. There are no situations other than dire emergencies in which a person is not able to return their cart. Simultaneously, it is not illegal to abandon your shopping cart. Therefore the shopping cart presents itself as the apex example of whether a person will do what is right without being forced to do it."
"No one will punish you for not returning the shopping cart, no one will fine you, or kill you for not returning the shopping cart, you gain nothing by returning the shopping cart. You must return the shopping cart out of the goodness of your own heart. You must return the shopping cart because it is the right thing to do. Because it is correct."
The theory sparked a thread of conversation on Twitter, generally agreeing that self governence was testable through the theory. However, a largely debated topic was the question of morality, and whether or not the hypothesis does indeed prove it. Because, when you bring in morality, it comes with a bunch of other questions. Perhaps you could be labeled as a good person for returning the shopping cart, but does the contrary make you morally wrong?
Or, if you do return the cart, the question of purpose comes in, too. Are you the kind of person that considers other people that you'll never meet or interact with, or are you the kind of person that holds following the rules above all, regardless of consequence?
And, judging by the Twitter discussion thread, it seems that cart wranglers don't actually care whether or not you return it. The point is that do you care? Enough to take 30 seconds out of your day to prevent the cart from hitting a car, enough to keep from inconveniencing another?
I saw the Shopping Cart Theory as something else - a debate, an argument deciding the fine line that separates self-love and one's alignment to social order.
The Shopping Cart Theory is a measure of selfishness.
It's due to the valuation of my interpretation of moral return for returning the cart to its corral; not that I exist as a slave to society's bidding without gratification.
I believe that the Shopping Cart Theory truly is a measure of human morality. To deny the shopping cart its corral is a choice, in which the customer chooses personal freedom rather than their duty to society and a minor inconvenience. I believe that in the theory, the truly evil members of society are the selfish.