Social Divisions

I come from a very privileged background, and that comes with a whole host of values. For example, I was taught to believe in the power of education. If you get educated, the saying goes, you can do anything. The ideology of education goes further. If you get educated, you will have a good life, you will control your destiny, and you will have interesting conversations as you float through the world of ideas.

The problem though, as I have experienced and many of my friends report as well, is that education, like everything else, has downsides too. The main one that I’m running into is that education slowly cuts you off from more and more people. Many people do not have very much education, and they prosper and live happy and successful lives nonetheless. Now my point here is not that education of a basic type is not necessary or that its somehow corrosive. A basic education is like air, every person needs it to have a chance of navigating our complex society and with skills like reading, writing, and problem solving, people do live much happier lives.

My point is mainly about higher education, with which I’m intimately familiar. Learning for learning’s sake is a very alien concept to most people, and the more knowledge you amass, the more difficulty it is to communicate to the average person. And as I find myself learning more and more about the world, I find myself entering into conversations with people that are more and more bizarre and strained. I’m not trying to make the elitist and obnoxious point that I talk with people who don’t know what I’m talking about: that isn’t the case at all, especially since I don’t try to drizzle my conversations with references to items of academic interest.

What I mean is that my attitude toward the world diverges sharply from those people without an educational background. I’ve been trained to question ideas and to think in  a very aggressive fashion, and I’m always fascinated by the way other people think, which for the most part, seems to be a much more relaxed and intimate relationship to certain propositions or themes. They reach for and manipulate these themes even without trying, and this is what makes their world so natural for them. An example is sports. I’m interested in sports and I like to watch them, but I don’t care about the Red Sox or the Patriot, and I don’t really have an allegiance to a team that keeps me abreast of the latest scandals and triumphs. I know about sports, but do not live them.

By living in Boston, I’m lucky to have come into contact with some very non-educated down to earth people who have taught me a lot about the way hard-working people think, and one persistent problem though is my curiosity itself. When confronted with new ways of life, I’m usually inherently interested to try and see what they’re about. I take pride in trying to bridge barriers between ways of life. But this VERY PREDILECTION, the desire to transcend boundaries through curiosity and sympathetic thinking, MARKS me as an educated person. My very desire to be cosmopolitan is a badge of my educational status which in turn prevents me from moving seamlessly into other ways of life. It’s almost as if to enter easily into conversation with others, one has to be somewhat ignorant and unconcerned with who they are and what they care about. You have to sneak up on their way of life rather than ask about it directly or confront it in language or argument.

This is certainly the case with meeting girls for example. When I meet a girl I like, I’m usually very interested in what she does and what she finds valuable, but there is nothing that earns me an awkward label quicker than caring too much about these things. I’m far more successful at making connections with girls when I just don’t give a shit, but this isn’t surprise. The human race has known that egocentrism rules in the sexual world for as long as life has existed.


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