I rented the relatively unheard-of Mike Judge/Luke Wilson film Idiocracy the other night, and rather enjoyed it.
The edited highlights of the plot are that, 500 years into the future, everyone has become stupid because of generations of, well, stupid people having kids while “Smart” people didn’t do so for various reasons (market, work, etc).
Long story short, the idea is that we as a species are getting dumber, and- if something isn’t done about it- may eventually end up at the point where we’re watering our crops with Gatorade because “It’s got what plants crave- It’s got Electrolytes!”
The movie is, of course, satire, but I think it does make an interesting topic for discussion. I know we all like to sit in metaphorical leather-backed chairs in the metaphorical Study smoking metaphorical bubble pipes whilst drinking metaphorical brandy and discussing the dumbing down of society, but ultimately I don’t think we as a civilisation are getting stupider. Sure, we like to point to all the signs of “dumbing down” in our society- warning labels on cups of coffee etc, but the fact is we’re posting on a messageboard that only exists in cyberspace, made possible by the connection of millions of computers through advanced telecommunication networks… something not possible if we were a society of morons and imbeciles, in short (no jokes about your average internet user, please!).
I can’t help but wonder if the Romans sat around lamenting that the plebs spent too much time handing around at the Forum, pimping out their Chariots with lapis lazuli trim and silver-plated rims, and obsessing over the Gladiator Matches and so on, or whether the commoners during the Renaissance used to give people like Da Vinci wedgies for “Drawing complicated shit and talking about technical crap” instead of getting involved in wars against the Venetians or the Turks or whoever it was fashionable to wage war on at the time.
In short, I think there have always been dumb people throughout history, but I don’t think they’re increasing in numbers in such a way that, given 500 years from now, we’ll see a situation where everyone is a moron… Or will we?
What do you think?