Is your goal in life to graduate from college and become a mountain hermit? Do you plan to live off the land surrounding your hermit hut so that you never have to see another human being for the rest of your life?
If you answered to “no” to both of these questions, then keep reading… (If you answered yes then why are you even reading this blog in the first place?)
The next time someone asks me what an anthropology degree is good for I am going to ask them those 2 questions, because the fact of the matter is that most people don’t want to be hermits and therefore they will be forced to deal with people in any job they choose. That is why anthropology is useful. Think about it, would you take a job working with software you didn't understand? No? Then why do so many people think they are actually doing a good job dealing with people when they understand nothing about anyone that isn't just like them? (Want a good example of this? Look a politician.)
This is why anthropology is useful. Humans are social creatures and we all have to live together whether we like it or not. Wouldn't it be nicer to live in a world of understanding rather than one of hate? I am not saying that nothing bad would ever happen again if we all studied anthropology (or other social sciences) but it would help. Even on a small scale it would make a difference in people’s understanding of the world and thus make it easier for them to comprehend it.
Let me list a few examples here of incidences that make me want to make anthropology a required minor in college. They all start the same - Every time someone, upon hearing what I study*, says
1. “Did you know the Chinese all (fill in ridiculous stereotype here)?”
2. “So you know how addictive video games are then.”
3. “Is the pollution really as bad as I hear in Beijing?”
4. “(Fill in ethnic group) does (fill in action that is foreign to mainstream America) because they are dumb.”
Doubly amazing to me is the number of people who deride my choice of major while extolling my patience, understanding, and ability to mediate for others … like the 2 aren't related. Or the people who harp on money as the answer even while they unhappily live financially comfortably, but just to throw a bone to the money people, check out the opening picture in the this post from savageminds.
Most importantly – to every college kid out there – remember it is your life. If you want to chase the almighty dollar that is your choice, but don’t grow up to bitterly pick on those who decided to follow passion and fulfillment instead. To those chasing their dreams remember the same and don’t give in to living someone else's life.
*The short answer I usually give to explain what I study is “video games in Taiwan.”