By Vanessa Chen || Staff Writer
The School of Life is a YouTube Channel with close to two million subscribers and 442 videos. It covers a variety of topics such as philosophy, literature, political theory, relationships, pop culture, and the self. The channel aims at educating the public, both on humanities subjects and emotional intelligence.
The School of Life has a curriculum that gives bite-sized lectures (usually under 10 minutes) on the lives and ideas of famous philosophers, artists, psychotherapists, and writers. It introduces the viewers to Nietzsche and James Joyce without the intimidation of big books with hard language. The channel also tackles interesting topics such as “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person,” “Why Germans Can Say Things No One Else Can,” and “Pop Culture: Taylor Swift’s Legs & Climate Change.”
The School of Life incorporates a unique blend of cynicism and optimism. One of its most viewed videos “The Darkest Truth about Love,” states “you will never find the right person…you are irredeemably alone…you will not be understood.” In a world that force-feeds positive thinking, it confirms the cynicism we secretly hold and the reality of life. The School of Life addresses our subconscious fear of “there is no love” by putting our ideas of “love” in perspective. It makes us realize that perhaps our ideas of “love” are unattainable, yet continuously perpetuated by society. The channel never fails to urge us, earnestly, to keep loving. However the channel suggests to its viewers not to just chase the “love” society has defined for us, but a more realistic one a person must define for themselves.
An especially fitting video for the political turbulence we are currently experiencing is “The Fragility of Good Government,” in which we are reminded that good government is enjoyed by a few people in a few parts of the world for a few periods in time. If the structure of good government seems to be falling apart, it is not becoming worse, but reverting to how it was. We should recognize that good government is fundamentally fragile, which requires all of us to commit to restoring it to its delicate state of “goodness.” The video can be deeply comforting because it exposes all the reasons why things will go wrong, but can still “go right.”
Besides pessimism, another major quality The School of Life wants its viewers to have is empathy. It teaches us that everyone is vulnerable, weird, and awful at communicating their wants to others. The channel is perfect for when you are angry at a friend, a lover, or a family member, to remind yourself that everyone is selfish and neurotic, yet pitiable and lovable, and they desperately need your generosity.
The lessons from The School of Life are melancholic yet heartwarming. They reaffirm that everything and everyone is just as bad as you think, but still manage to convince you to be hopeful and to try.
Sophomore Vanessa Chen is a staff writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.