“It’s ticking away with my sanity
I’ve got too much time on my hands
It’s hard to believe such a calamity
I’ve got too much time on my hands
And it’s ticking away, ticking away from me.”– Tommy Shaw
Over the years, I’ve managed to teach every social studies course offered in high school with the exception of Sociology. I’m technically certified to teach it even though I haven’t taken a single course in my life. Of course, that didn’t stop me from teaching World Geography. However, the study of cultures, norms, and rituals has always been fascinating.
There’s nothing overwhelmingly urgent to talk about in the news. Maybe that’s why we get these stories that seem to fold over into a single news cycle. It’s my job to see if I can find any interesting kernel of connection to tie them together with a neat bow. So, my mind went to sociology.
We have three stories rattling around the brain today. First, we have Dan Patrick spouting some interesting statistics about African American voters. According to tale, half of the African American population in Texas doesn’t own a car. Therefore, we shouldn’t have drive in voting. There are any number of holes I can poke in that, but I’m making an overall point here, so I’ll hold off for now.
The second story involves our very own governor Greg Abbott and other conservatives. It seems Joe Biden wants us all to become vegetarians. A story circulated that he wanted beef consumption to be cut by 90 percent and wanted every American to be limited to four pounds of beef a year. I’ve attached the snopes report on that story because again I am making a larger point here and don’t have time for the foolishness.
Finally, you get Larry Kudlow and his complaints about Biden forcing us to drink “plant based beer.” What’s next? Fruit based orange juice? Naturally, I’m sure most of you know that beer is made from plants. It includes hops, malted barlay, and other things depending on the flavor. Maybe he was thinking a cow or pig were involved but I can assure him that the beer I drink doesn’t have any animal byproducts. I admittedly haven’t tried every beer on the market.
What do these three stories all have in common? They are three easily disprovable mistruths that are being propagated by prominent politicians. Why? Because they can. It’s part of the paradox for a public that has millions if not billions of pieces of information at their fingertips and yet bumbles on with ignorance of a serf during feudal times.
The sociological portion of it is fascinating. We see these periods in history at different points. The invention of the printing press made books affordable for the masses. It can be no coincidence that the period immediately following brought about much strife and lasting change.
We’ve had similar periods throughout history where access to knowledge expanded for one reason or another. The internet was designed originally as a way for academics to exchange ideas more freely. It really wasn’t designed with you and me in mind. Slowly but surely that evolved. We used to pay 20 dollars a month for America Online. Now, we can all access the internet from our smartphones.
It always takes society longer to adjust to technology than it takes for that technology to develop. We increasingly have access to the internet and most people now have high speed internet. That doesn’t mean we are any smarter or wiser about what we read. In fact, you could make the argument that we are collectively less informed even though we have increased access.
It’s a paradox I’m sure we share with those other important points in history when everything changed. It will take time for us to adjust as a society. In the meantime I’ll help you out. Nearly 90 percent of African American families in Texas own at least one car. No, there will not be rationing of meat. Beer is in fact made from plants. Not everything on the internet is true and not everything our leaders tell us is true or even rational. Maybe someday the common man will have the wherewithal to double check these things. For now, we just have to hope there are enough people with common sense.