The World According to Natalie: Educate Yourself in this Materialistic, Anti-Intellectual Society

We are living in a materialistic, anti-intellectual and pseudo-spiritual society and it’s only getting worse. Between Oprah’s promotions of, “The Secret” to Gwyneth Paltrow’s hyper-materialistic website, “GOOP” we are in danger of trying to live out our life through trite sound bites and consumerism. Of course the promoters of all things material would simply tell you not to tune in or log onto these places of commerce, but why are they exempt?

They put themselves out there with the risk of, well, putting themselves out there. The masses are lining up to the Kabbalah and the Quantum Physics smorgasbord picking and choosing the ways it will help them get rich and have more stuff, go to cool, poor countries and eat the best food, buy the best stuff, go to the best retreats and are threatening to eat the world alive!  This method of choosing our own moral philosophy isn’t new to societies, in ancient Greece, the philosopher Epicurus wanted to live life through an elevated aesthetic. Today we associate his name with fine dining and other such personal luxuries. Luxuries are certainly not bad, I don’t assign a moral score card to them, they make life more enjoyable. But I do think they shouldn’t rank over an education, critical thinking and responsibility. We are living in dangerously materialistic society that grasps at the next fad. Our society celebrates celebrity and wealth and the accumulation of material possessions. This society is haunted by the words of Andy Warhol’s sentiment of everyone getting their 15 minutes of fame. The huge glut of reality television shows has eerily played that prediction out.

I’m not against people living their personal best, and I think that is the essence of a higher education. But before you go out and take on the world, I think as a responsible member of society, you need to take core courses on history, politics and so on to in order to become a critical thinker. Education leads to an expansion of openings and you learn not only facts, but you also learn how to learn, and eventually you can learn that elusive of all skills, creativity. Michel Foucault was one of the most influential thinkers of this century. His reach included the spectrum from literary criticism to the history of criminology. His philosophy was far reaching, and intellectually astonishing. Foucault stated that there isn’t any universal understanding that is beyond history and society.

Furthermore, Bill Gates famously dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft, but he happens to be one of education’s most famous supporters. He envisions education to become more democratic in the future and specifically, he believes online degrees are going to be more available and even more desirable. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is awarding 20 million dollars to those who come up with creative technologies to improve online education. Without a doubt, online education is going to be a widely accepted way to get a higher education degree. Bill Gates is certain a campus-based degree will be five times less important than it is today. He’s even stated that the degree would be free. He feels that all of the best lectures will be available online and it will be a better education than any one single university could provide. Of course, this will work provided that the student is a motivated learner. An online education clearly works best in the hands of a self-starter. But the advantages of being able to study at the place you need to be, and at the times that work for you has tremendous advantages. A scholastically curious individual will literally have the world at their fingertips.

Finally, the bringing together information from the best minds and the best lectures and the best texts from the best universities will instill a certain critical awareness and creativity that couldn’t come to fruition without the connection to all the different academic sources.  Isn’t that how the Italian Renaissance began? A scientific, artistic and literary revolution was possible by bringing together all of the different scholars and having dialogues.  There are no short cuts to becoming the best you. You become the best you by investing in yourself through an education. Getting an education isn’t easy, but fortunately for you, it doesn’t have to be place based. With this new education model, you can plan your education around your life. For free information for searching for online degrees and colleges please visit: