To start an article about the darker side of social networking, an Esquire writer suggests that there are three things that one learns first in a high school sociology class:
The first three things you learn in high-school sociology are:
A. Sociology is the study of people in groups.
B. The more people in a group, the more powerful the group.
C. The more people in a group, the worse the decision-making abilities (or collective intelligence) of the group will become.
There are few places better equipped to learn that lesson firsthand than high school. Or the Internet. But for all the praise dumped upon social networks after they (sorta) helped Egyptians shape their country’s destiny, we’re still missing something. There’s still an aspect of Twitter just as dark as the “dangerous element” that put Lara Logan in harm’s way recently: The Mob Mentality.
I generally agree with A, particularly in order to differentiate sociology from psychology. But B and C would not be what I would jump to on Day 1. Actually, this would be an interesting question to ask sociologists: if you had three statements in which to start an intro level course, what would you say? How would you want to frame the rest of your course?
And it would be interesting to know how many high schools currently offer classes in sociology. I know that sociologists would like to see this more in high schools as many students come to college with little or no knowledge what sociology is. The American Sociological Association has a site with some resources regarding teaching sociology in high school. Having more of these classes would also promote public sociology.