I recently enjoyed reading “Blink,” a book by Malcom Gladwell. I’ve been reading similar books for professional development at work and I’m finding how much joy any writing even distantly related to sociology brings to me.
A guilty admission: I never really understood what sociology was when I was considering what to major in at college. Even I had grasped what it was, I never would have chosen that as a major at that time in my life. Looking back, I wish I had put more focus on sociology and listened a little more closely during my introductions to philosophy and psychology during my freshmen year.
The courses I was interested in when I was in college, such as math and chemistry, are subjects that draw my attention any more—I actively avoid those subjects now—and the ones that pushed me away are what I am drawn to these days. Funny how life works.
So now, I’m finding in interest in the study of people. I should have known. In my younger days I would enjoy going to hang out at the mall. Not to shop, but to wander around or sit in the food court with an obnoxiously large Coke and maybe some fries and just sit and watch people. Sometimes I would do it to make fun of them. Sometimes I would look at them and try to figure out what their lives were like based on their clothes, their hair, the way they carried themselves. I tried to figure out if they were happy or sad, on a mission or killing time. My best friend in I would watch people walking along and recreate their conversations, each one of us taking a part and just running with it until the giggles brought our project to a temporary halt.
Sociology is one of those degrees similar to the major I pursued, English, in that there is no defined career that follows earning a diploma. They are both useful in so many areas, but you don’t major in English to be a professional book reader and paper writer per se. Chemistry majors become chemists. Engineering majors become engineers. MBAs work in business. CPAs become accountants. I reckon English majors become dreamers on a path to somewhere. I suppose I majored in English 1) because I enjoy(ed) the subject materials and 2) to follow the romantic notion of becoming a writer. I succeeded in becoming a writer, but it wasn’t nearly so romantic a life as I once thought.
Another recent influence combines the two subjects I’m rambling about now, the late David Foster Wallace. I’ve only just begun soaking up his material and haven’t tapped into his life’s masterwork “Infinite Jest,” but I’ve found his writing to be extensive and methodical and in-depth and it carried with it a keen insight into human interaction as well as human reaction.
So maybe I, too, can someday mix my longtime love of reading, writing, and watching with my new personal study of sociology. In fact, I think my journey has just begun with this post.