BOSTON (CBS) – Chicken or egg? Sorry, no answer for that one yet. But when it comes to the question of whether humans are growing dimmer by the day, evidence confirming appears to be overwhelming. The dumb ARE getting dumber.
From the Massachusetts thirty-something female who thought it adorable to flip the bird in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier only to then plaster the infamous deed on Facebook (the current place to be for the academically challenged) to the stampeding Black Friday hooligans beating each other silly to save seven bucks on a DVD player to the Middle East Mensa rejects of Hamas who believe religiously that blowing up women and children (including their own) is the most effective way to achieve peace and freedom, things appear bleak. The Mayan end date can’t come soon enough. The most technologically advanced civilization in the history of our planet cannot figure out (or refuses to try) how to cut back just a smidgeon on adding to an economy swallowing debt, limit a tiny amount of senseless violence that makes for bloody TV news shows , or feed starving millions while so much viable food is wasted. But hey, those are big ticket issues and too intense to focus on here. Instead, let’s gauge the stupidity level of local geniuses’ intent on chugging cinnamon until they asphyxiate, wind surfing during super hurricanes, building homes at the base of volcanoes, wearing Nazi uniforms and Hitler mustaches to holocaust remembrances or rooting for say the New York Jets. Forget the fiscal cliff. We’re quickly stumbling head first into brain freeze city and doing so without a net.
In her latest book “The Watchman’s Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse”, sociobiologist Rebecca Costa contends that heretofore surmountable problems in the world are harder than ever to fix. Why? Basically, the accelerating technology and overall complexity of things is moving far too quickly for our simple brains to keep up. What would it take to stop this disturbing trend? Costa offers many thoughtful suggestions but one of the easier ones to wrap your cerebral cortex around is simple attitude adjustment. The power lies within as it always has. If folks stop long enough to ponder the consequences and think about the effects beyond the heady rush achieved when everyone gawks and pays attention to them, we just might pull the reins in enough to slow down the slide. The young lady who disgraced herself at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has learned a lesson and has paid dearly. She was canned. I wouldn’t have fired her (public humiliation sufficed in my mind) but private employers have every right to expect reasonable, responsible behavior from their workers.
Here’s the key to my concern. Dumb has been elevated to dumb squared. We all mess up, it comes with the territory. But until recently one’s booboos haven’t been the subject of instant virtual inspection. And kids, be warned that once your misdeed finds its way to the Internet it hangs around forever, like a nagging case of acne or that out of work uncle who clings to your couch and clicker. Being stupid is tough enough; having billions of eyes watching while you implode because of said stupidity is a whole other matter.
I’m often a dope but I’m lucky to have kept my dopiness to myself. And that’s the best way to survive. It’s better for your pocketbook as well as your image.