By Ryan Cox
I’ve been off Tiktok for a while now. It hasn’t seemed worth my time and while I feel it is inevitably going to become the new standard for media consumption, I’d like to avoid the content sludge for as long as possible. But during my hiatus, I still find myself thinking about a certain creator whose videos always had the comments section busted up.
Enter Education Forum. His videos discuss higher education and the careers you can pursue after graduation. The motive behind his profile is to give advice to young students. While he does answer a lot of questions along the lines of “how do I choose what to study” and “what career can I expect with my major,” he has a markedly cynical view of college that dominates the narrative of nearly all his videos.
Not for any of the already long existing issues, such as inaccessibility to underprivileged groups, the massive turnover rate of university staff (buh-bye, President Kinzy), or the legitimacy of a college degree as a signifier of having actually obtained a certain set of skills, but out of a sheer distaste towards the increasing popularity of subjective, creatively-aligned, or so-called right brain studies, something he deems “useless majors.”
His content mainly consists of him picking majors in the arts or humanities to hurl jeers at the vague course descriptions and declining income outlooks. After backing up this data with proper sources such as Reddit threads or Kanye West lyrics, he will come to the conclusion that whatever major his face is superimposed over is not worth pursuing.
This is not to say the creator is completely against going to college, in fact he advocates for a very specific type of education. There are many videos which display “good majors” to counteract his disparagement of pursuits like anthropology, sociology, or graphic design. The ones he actively encourages revolve around the principles of economics, business, or engineering. Very worthwhile endeavors surely, but all have a focus on objective or practical skills and yield higher incomes.
After viewing his content globally, we can paint a rudimentary picture of what commentary Education Forum seeks to engage in: only majors that make money are important. This sort of opinion posits that our worth is defined by the physical impact of our work and how much capital it can bring in. The idea is that a more “useful” career will bring in more money due to its ability to contribute to the rest of society.
So, then, what is the point of majoring in history, philosophy, or any of the other useless majors?
Because these careers build how we communicate and interact with the world.
Just as objective careers shape the spaces we occupy and develop technologies to make our lives easier, subjective careers shape how we look at our environments and how we use these innovations. What would these technologies be without unconventional thinkers to tinker with them, pushing the boundaries of how they can be used and paving the way for new technologies to be developed?
The artists use them to create works that entertain, the historians use them to preserve pieces of the past, the writers use them to tell new and exciting stories, and the philosophers use them to argue for a better future. Above all else, what these useless majors have in common is a burgeoning need to communicate a way of life to hopefully inspire people and build a commonality for all humanity. We are social creatures, constantly creating bridges into one another’s psyches, and these careers utilize this ability to the fullest extent possible. Without anything to communicate, what are we?
It is also true that certain careers are rewarded more than others. Education itself is a fundamental need for a functioning society, yet most educators live on a modest income at best. These people actively contribute to the betterment of culture while stockbrokers and entrepreneurs find loopholes to keep them forever rich. To Education Forum, the educators simply chose the wrong career.
What exists is a subsection of people who argue for this kind of objective view, not understanding the different ways a person may find meaning in their life. They conceive of wealth as the end-all signifier of purpose, not realizing the systemic biases at play which leave the world of wealth inaccessible, let alone plain undesirable, to some seeking to nurture their understanding of how we communicate with one another. Do these people simply have nothing to contribute to society?
Sometimes the medium we speak through removes any need for credibility. It’s easy to forget that we chose who we give credence to in a world where everyone has a voice. Let Education Forum have his followers, there are some of us who don’t see things so black and white.
A person can bring wealth to society through channels we can’t even see. They move quietly through the crowds yet speak volumes through their work. It is these people who shape our culture into what it is and inform the builders about what to build. We owe it to ourselves to craft our own unique mark in this world, and the way we do it carries a signature of who we are.
It is us. It is our own unique contribution to the flailing biomass of human experience.