Society does not exist

June 9, 2008

I’m in Ohio for my sister’s college graduation.  I’ve never seen anything like it before, 7000 students dressed in cap and gown swarming around the Ohio State Stadium.  Me and my dad figured that those caps and gowns represent almost ½ a billion dollars worth of education.  

            Last night, at a smaller gathering for my sisters dance department, I was struck by a speech given by one of her professors.  The speech encouraged these dance graduates not to fall into American culture, not to become materialistic, not to listen to what “society” tells them.  Interesting.

              Here’s what I think: Society does not exist.  There is no large group of people that hold all these absurd ideals, some of which the church likes to call “worldly”.  We made it up in our minds to make ourselves feel original and counter cultural.  I think society is made up of uncountable sub-cultures that all distinguish themselves against this imaginary “society at large”.

            I’m not sure this really makes any sense at all.  Its not really a complete idea yet, but it makes sense in my mind.  I’m also not saying this is a bad thing, it’s simply…a thing.  Thoughts?

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3 Responses to “Society does not exist”

  1. gbeddingfield Says:

    Hope you’re having a good time! I missed you, today.

    Cool thought re: society. On the one hand… I think you’re dead on. There’s not really a ‘society,’ but rather our preconceived notions of what other people expect of us (how we act/look/think/live). Our notions aren’t always rooted in reality.

    On the other hand, there is a concerted effort by businesses to manipulate you and change the way that you act. (They get you to act like sheep.) We typically get it through entertainment, advertising, and news. A lot of people really do get influenced by that culture. So, when the guy talks against “society,” that’s really I think what they’re getting at.

  2. Joel Says:

    As much as I kinda like the thought, I do think that Society exists, but it’s neither monolithic nor even completely cohesive; it’s sort of amorphous, shifting, hydra-headed. As misguided as it might be to miss the diversity and inherent contradictions and blessed, beautiful countervailing currents in Society, I still think the idea is useful. And, as far as those dispersive, schizophrenic tendencies, well, most people I know are similarly difficult to pin down, really. We try to stifle the voices but the cacophony continues. Er, um, but maybe that’s just me. Never mind. Just remember the sequel to Heraclitus’s observation: you can’t step in the same river once.

    What I think the arrogant, self-proclaimed counter-culturists (that’d include churchy folk, and the free thinkers and the libertarians and the bohemians and all of the other conforming non-conformists) most dangerously miss is that we/they too are part of the bubbling, babbling, burbling cesspool.

    I guess it depends on how we define “Society.” I think most of what you’re saying makes sense. Actually, reading back over what you wrote, it looks like we sort of said a similar thing.

    Congrats to your sister.

  3. janessica Says:

    I’m not sure how to handle ideas as big as this. I’m too timid to boldly state that they do or do not exist. As soon as I agree with you, I’ll disagree with you. I have issues with forming opinions until it’s way too late to contribute anything useful or intelligent. I do know this: if this is how you think about society, sociology is going to make you want to punch a nun. You’re going to be the guy in class that all the little cookie cutter kids will hate because you’ll have your own ideas about the world and the way it works. I wish I could be there. It’s going to be epic.


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