Browsing Facebook or Twitter these days comes close to an OCD. Only close, as I do not wish at all to dwarf the struggles of people with OCD, but it is the best way to explain how day by day I end up scrolling newsfeeds even though it most certainly will upset me. And even if I manage to force myself to take a break from the vicious circle of spin, 'fake news', and things I wish were fake news, most certainly someone will share the most recent madness with me. Godwin's law predicts that the longer an online conversation takes the more likely Hitler will be mentioned regardless of its starting point – now we live in a time of Godwin's Law 2.0 where Trump is mentioned within five minutes of any given conversation. It is exhausting.
Luckily, Richard Osman brings a bit of sunshine into my rather frustrating daily media reading. Not only does he comment on current affairs with wit and humour and thus saving me from growing completely bitter, he also offers a solution. In a tweet he calls for sociology to be taught everywhere. Now, I am not sure if he recognises the revolutionary nature of such a demand (imagine where we could be if critical thinking was a common skill rather than a rare talent) but he is definitely on to something.
We are in the digital age, often described as industry 4.0, where quick and efficient communication is everything – but our education system is still stuck at industry 1.0. We are confronted with avalanches of information day by day but we lack the skill to assess them. We feel miserable like Cinderella sorting peas and even worse since very often we have no idea how to tell good from bad peas. Sure, we could research peas, google them, but that does not really improve the situation as Google provides us with no fewer than 118,000,000 results. So we just go for any of the top search results without further investigation since, seriously, who has the time to do vast research just for some peas.
Clearly, our education system fails most of us. It does not equip us for the daily challenges of modern life. As a sociology student myself, I have no hesitation to agree with Osman that sociology (and social sciences in general) does provide a firm ground to stand on when faced with the intellectual challenges of our time. However, it should come with a trigger warning. Sociology makes you think, so while I contemplate the genius of the idea of teaching it broadly, I simultanously start wondering how it could ever be realised. After all, the status quo benefits politicians who only need to care about the right spin rather than about the substance of their campaigns, so why would they be motivated to change it?
So there I am again, compulsively scrolling the newsfeeds and comments, trying to find an answer to this dilemma of post-modernity.