As a sociologist I understand both the useless nature of any one person's thoughts and the importance of generating content in a digital world.
I don’t have a Facebook, and the fact that it enables human trafficking is only one of my reasons why. I sometimes feel pressure to reactivate or sign up for more social media accounts (I currently have researchgate, linkedin, and snapchat). Many job market preparation how-to’s, for example, state that a strong media presence is important for success.
I can’t, y’all. I couldn’t nearly a decade ago after college, when I realized that all Facebook was going to be was other people’s news. Perhaps I could have curated my Facebook better, managing who showed up in my feed and trying to make Facebook “more professional.” I reactivated and deactivated it once a few years ago, and I sometimes find myself thinking I’ll start again, maybe it will be good for me? Maybe it will help my career?
But now I can sigh a big sigh of relief because case closed. If people are being bought and sold into slavery on Facebook it’s okay not to use it, right?
It’s taken a while for me to get around to this, but it’s been on my mind. Back in January The Wall Street Journal published a piece by Jackson Toby with the opinion that Sociology is somehow in “decline” because of sociologists with “left wing politics.” Now, I can’t respond to their argument in full because I don’t subscribe to the WSJ. The title and use of “descriptive sociologist” and “truthful depiction of social reality” in the first paragraph, however, is enough to raise my voice against, even if it just a whimper in a blog somewhere. After breathing through my initial anger at someone smearing a whole discipline I happen to be a part of, I realized I was angry both because the opinion felt misinformed, but also because it felt violent as well. I’ll leave it up to you to decide on the first one but I think sociology is still going strong, and is becoming more relevant than ever (e.g. it’s now a part of the MCATs).
The main issue I have is the fact that this “decline” is then somehow the fault “left wing” sociological activists. I’m sorry? Does the fact that I study racism bother you? If I cite study after study that shows gender discrimination exists and hurts women, and then say that it should be eliminated, does that make me radical? It’s like calling a doctor who studies cancer in order to try and stop it from killing people a social justice warrior. “No, sir! I’m purely interested in the cells!” Nobody becomes a fire fighter to let houses burn. I study inequality, not because I’m trying to document it’s minutiae for some future historian, but because I think by understanding our social world we can empower people to improve it. It’s the whole point.
If I had to guess I think Jackson Toby has that opinion about sociologists because he’s scared of us, what we study, and what we represent. He thinks improving the world for everyone will make it a worse world for him. Boo-hoo. I challenge this too-pervasive narrative that people like me; queer people, or fem people, or black people, or liberal people can’t study the things that are important to them because it’s somehow damaging a pure, objective, or scientific reality. Those things don’t exist, but I do, and my desire to make the world a better place through exploring it is not a weakness of my discipline, it’s a strength.
This is the e-mail response I received from my Senator regarding net neutrality.
See below for contact information should you feel the need to contact him as well.
Unlike academic language, you should pay attention to the calculating use of adjectives.
Thank you for contacting me regarding Internet regulation and commerce. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this matter.
Over the past two decades, Americans have increasingly relied on the Internet in their personal and professional lives, and new technologies play a central role in the Internet’s growing importance. Many of these technologies have been developed in Texas. As Texans and Americans, we all benefit from advancements that encourage economic growth and make day-to-day life easier.
I believe in an open and free internet and that we need policies to meet the evolving challenges of technological advancement. However, government regulations move slower than technology, and we must ensure the laws we pass do not stifle innovation. A top-down regulatory approach can unnecessarily constrain an industry’s ability to create and deliver new products and services to consumers. In the Senate, I have supported legislation that facilitates innovation and opposed policies that threaten it.
As you may know, on December 14, 2017, the FCC voted 3-2 to restore internet freedom, reversing the 1930s-era utility-style regulation ("Title II") contained in the 2015 Open Internet Order, commonly referred to as “the net neutrality rule.” This action reinstates the light-touch regulatory structure established under the Clinton Administration that protects consumers, closes the digital divide, and brings next generation networks and services to all Americans. A return to the pre-2015 regulatory framework restores the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) jurisdiction to protect consumers and companies should Internet Service Providers engage in anticompetitive, unfair, or deceptive acts, which is the FTC’sprincipal mission and purpose.
I support the FCC’s transparent approach to reduce burdensome regulation and improve internet access and services. I am also proud to cosponsor the Restoring Internet Freedom Act (S. 993). This legislation would nullify the former net neutrality rule, ensure Congress maintains its primary authority to reshape communications policy, and restore the competitive freedom that has characterized the Internet. S.993 has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Although I am not a member of this Committee, I will keep your views in mind should S. 993 be considered by the full Senate during the 115th Congress.
I appreciate the opportunity to represent Texas in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
United States Senator
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856
How do I get this made into a reality television show?
A great example of how the social influences the personal, I'd like to introduce you to something I've been personally struggling with lately: the expensive prices of flights over the Christmas holiday (and also chanukah, Kwansaa, Chinese New Year, Valentines day, etc). As a graduate student, the United States Government recently passed a tax bill that would count my not paying tuition as part of my income (as if we can rely on companies like BP to research how to help every American child have access to preschool: here's a link to BP's two-week leave family policy, btw.)
Because we value certain days out of the year over others, as a society and as a culture with historically growing but potentially dwindling influence over global economic events, large groups of people try to travel during the "holidays." Consider the fact that we wouldn't have rush hour traffic if we didn't agree that working 9 to 5 is the regular "business" day in America. This culturally agreed-upon date, in turn, influences other aspects of our lives; ranging from how we consider gift-giving to the locations that form the cornerstones of family reunions. Is it, therefore, consequential for inequality if only certain individuals within our society are able to realize their family traditions surrounding travel during Christmas?
Despite what some people might say, every U.S. president has celebrated Christmas, because Americans care about Christmas. So much so that it was $800 dollars less expensive to fly home from my family's "Christmas," on the 24th rather than the 26th.
I realize that I am a very fortunate person to be able to ride a flying machine to visit my family hundreds of miles away for something so trivial as a cultural event. But there must be other people that contemplate the socially constructed, consequential, and arbitrary nature of time during the holidays too, right?