Your place in line

I’ve been reading a lot of Sapolsky recently, if you’ve never read any of his work, I recommend you do.  He has pretty good insight in to what makes us tick, and I like to evaluate humans as animals, one of my favorite books is The Naked Ape.  Anyways, I was thinking about how baboons, and many animals set up dominance hierarchies, which caused me to wonder, why don’t humans?

After a few moments of introspection, it became clear to me that we in fact do.  The hierarchies just aren’t enforced in the same manner.  For instance, the hierarchy I am in runs as follows.

President–>dean–>provost*–>head of my college–>department head–>advisor/faculty–>our model organism–>grad students with bikes–>Me

If we had undergrads I suppose they would be underneath me, but we don’t, so I am at the bottom.  Ok, but what about the rest of the world?  Well, they have hierarchies too, for instance, the military has a clear hierarchy.  Corporate America has a hierarchy ascribed to it, pretty much everyone responds to a boss of some sorts, who responds to a boss, who responds to a boss, who owns the shit.  So, our hierarchies are different but clearly still there.  Most of them are hierarchies where we walk in to them, and it is fairly clear where we stand on the totem pole.  However, there is one place where no hierarchy is given.

High School.

All of a sudden everything smashed in to sharp focus.  In high school, we make our own hierarchy, which explains why high school fucking sucked**.  The students are left to establish a structure of who is in power and who isn’t, and left to their own devices, they fight and scratch and make their own.  Once it established, a lot of time is spent reinforcing it through teasing, fights, gossip and other methods.  We really aren’t that different from baboons are we?

After some thought, I began to ponder, college is similar to high school, no real structure to it, just a bunch of people interacting, why don’t you see similar behavior and clear social structure like you do in high school?  I have no fucking clue.  I’ve speculated a bit though, maybe because colleges are so much larger, the times you interact with someone multiple times is reduced, making nay hierarchy so fleeting they don’t matter.  Or perhaps my college was different?  Regardless I am not really sure, but it is an interesting thought experiment.


*What the fuck is provost?  Are they higher or lower than a dean?  What the hell is a dean for that matter?

**Guess where I was on the totem pole?


~ by epiphron13 on October 13, 2011.

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