Thursday, September 6, 2012

Superiority Complex

Today in one of my classes I was reminded of something that bothers me. And, unfortunately, reminded that sometimes I have this problem as well. The thing I was reminded of is something I'm going to call the "Superiority Complex" (S.C. for short). I don't know if that's a good name for it, or if that name has already been taken to describe something else, so sorry any psych. majors if I got it wrong.

When I say S.C., I mean like this example: "professor: now, since you're all computing majors, I can say this - the general computer user is an idiot. And there's no patch or update we can put out to cure plain stupidity. *class laughs*"

That kind of scene plays out all too often in my CS classes. A ton of STEM majors feel like their education is somehow superior to others, makes them smarter. NEWS FLASH: it doesn't.

Our educations are, admittedly, different. And yes, we are like to get a higher paying job. However, a friend of mine (who reads this blog - hope she doesn't mind my using her as an example) is a music scholar at the same university I attend. She's absolutely chock-full of knowledge about music.

For example, there's this thing called Alexander technique that she explained to me once, and it was very much over my head. She's dedicated to her flute and spends hours practicing every day - probably the same hours I spend coding. Is she any less smart than me? Absolutely not. She's just passionate about different things.

I think, with computers especially, we have a tendency to assume people are dumb for not protecting themselves, for having open-profile Facebook accounts, etc. They're not dumb. They are just lacking the education you have about computer security. Just like I lack the education about Alexander Technique. Don't ever assume you're superior just because you are better at computers.

Now, before some of my friends get all on me for being a hypocrite - I am well aware that I often spout the "I'll have a higher paying job than you" line. And if I've offended anyone by that, I'm sorry.

I do think that if you don't know what to do, you should go for something that is likely to pay well. There's a difference between being passionate about music and studying it simply because you didn't know what else to do. There's a difference between truly loving Spanish culture (another friend of mine, studying in Argentina, meets that description) and studying Spanish because it was easy in high school. If you truly have a passion for something, go for it, and more power to you. But if you don't know, don't spend a lot of money on a college education you won't use. Spend it on something that will get you a high paying job. Doesn't make STEM better, it's just a fact that STEM fields are the fastest growing in the world.

OK. There are a lot of thoughts in that post. I'll get off my incoherent soapbox now and let some other people chew on that - comment with your thoughts. I was just irritated by my classmates today assuming they're the brilliant ones and everyone else is beneath them. But there are probably those kids in every class.


Kati patrianoceu said...

there's also grad school! A good education in any field can prepare people for more studies... you don't have to have chosen your career by undergrad :)

Katrina C said...

I would agree. A lot of STEM majors do harbor condescending attitudes toward non-STEM majors.

I think a lot of us just need an ego check. We NEED people who study different things. They make the technologies we use more visually appealing, grammatically correct, accessible to other cultures, pleasing to the ears, environmentally safe, and many other important things.

And even if they don't do any of those specific things, they are capable of providing useful feedback from fresh perspectives.