March 22, 2016
Sociology may be the most interesting subject possible for intellectual study. No, studying about the id, organic solidarity, or Marxism for a three hour credit does not entail too much excitement. However, simply look at the people surrounding you at any given point of the day, analyze their interactions, and you, friend, have become a sociologist. By taking just a moment to really contemplate socializing, or the process of engaging in society as a functional member, one will quickly realize that such interactions consists of innumerable layers of intricacy and well organized mechanics.
Take, as a common example, the school cafeteria. Most students of Mississippi College enter the cafeteria to eat at least once throughout the day. Many people walk into the caf at the same time, choose the same food, sit at the same table, talk to the same people, and finish their food at the same pace every single day. Others, however, have no such internal regulators. They eat whenever, whatever, and with whomever they like. Each case results from social “norms” which have been subconsciously programmed within people’s minds over the course of years to act and think a certain way. Someone from Delta farmland may have grown up eating breakfast with their family at 7:30 every morning before spending the day working, and thus continue the same habit into adulthood. Someone from urban Houston, however, may have lived their entire life eating “on the fly,” and would experience no such organization. As another example, look to the comparisons between introverts and extroverts. Some people (such as myself) love nothing more than a good book and a steaming cup of dark coffee to spend their Friday afternoon. Others could never even imagine studying in the library with less than ten of their closest friends in a room.
Each disposition, however pronounced, comes from years of very specific interactions and subsequent responses, and these personality traits affect daily life in an infinite number of ways. This process closely parallels the Butterfly Effect, which, according to the almighty Google, “is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.” Essentially, one tiny stimulus can, over time, increase to have significant magnitude, given the proper circumstances. One person may have a bad experience with a friend in the first grade, and therefore come decide to hide away from all social interaction fifteen years later. Someone else, on the other hand, may feel euphoria from a teacher congratulating them for making friends in kindergarten, and thus be addicted to the same interaction once in college. Each situation is just as extreme as the other, but just as likely. Such observations make up the study of social interaction.
You may never truly understand the intricacy of daily life without a proper understanding of how you respond to certain situations, and also how others respond to similar situations. By taking such observations into account, we may flow through society with much greater ease and avoid many of the common blunders that most people face when socializing with others.
-Taylor Lemoine, Contributing Writer
this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 10 of The Mississippi Collegian