It happened again. I offered someone a small tip that would have — in a very small way — raised the excellence of their life. The response was (and I quote), “lol [whatever].” I can’t say I was very surprised because it happens all the time.
In fact, laughing it off is the more benign reaction. I’ve learned that it can be dangerous to point out the correct use of “their” and “they’re” and “there.” (Grammar Rules: They’re there for their purpose.) Some folks get downright hostile with regard to their own precision and excellence.
This is one of many human behaviors I have a hard time understanding.
Last time I wrote about willful ignorance as one good definition of stupidity. This time, I want to explore some ideas about why there seems a growing amount of it in modern society. Of course that necessitates first addressing the question: Is there a growing amount of it? I believe the answer is yes, but I also believe a lot of the reason for it is the growing complexity of society.
There was a time when a clever person could fix their washing machine or their car. Our machines were fairly simple then: a motor, a few hoses, some wires and belts. It wasn’t hard to figure out. A clever person with experience and tools could even fix their radio or TV. Replacing a burned out “tube” was a common household activity.
Now our machines bear the warning: “No User Serviceable Parts Inside”
The title above is deliberately a little inflammatory, but people who know me, and people who read this blog, may — not without reason — think this is a common sentiment of mine. And it sort of is, but it’s actually a code for something much more intricate and involved. Last time I wrote about Leon Wieseltier, whose ten-word critique of modern society blew me away, especially his central clause: “Not enough critical thinking.”
This time I’d like to explore — or at least begin exploring — exactly what (to me) the phrase, “People are stupid!” really means. There are some key distinctions to be made. For example, I don’t think people are more, or less, stupid than they’ve ever been; our brains haven’t changed in many thousands of years.
And let’s face it, we all take a Stupid Pill now and then.
In 2006 Mike Judge (Office Space, King of the Hill) wrote and directed a film called Idiocracy. It postulates a future 500 years hence when, due to “The Marching Morons” theory, the world is entirely populated by extremely stupid people. In this dystopian future, advertising and commercialism have run rampant in an anti-intellectual culture devoid of intellectual curiosity and thought.
As I watch what passes for communication or discussion on the interweb, as I watch in horrified fascination at the complete failure of nuanced — let alone deep — thought in people today, I begin to realize one thing:
The Idiocracy is here; I live in a world filled with morons.