I recently watched a dystopic, farcical, futuristic sci-fi film called Idiocracy. The premise was that while the smart and well educated tended to be prudent about their decision-making and forgo having children when it would not be responsible, those that constitute the dregs of society continued to procreate in record numbers until, eventually, society was reduced to nothing more than fart jokes and hedonistic pleasures. Mountains of trash accumulated, people forgot how to grow plants, the heavyweight-wrestling champion was elected President of the United States, and every item at Starbucks came with a “happy ending”. While this depiction of the future is obviously not a realistic prognostication, it did get me thinking. Are our society and culture continuing to advance in meaningful, helpful ways, or are we simply becoming lazier, stupider, and more apathetic as time goes by?
Aside from my sci-fi induced epiphany, many observations about my friends, the media, entertainment, and several other domains from which I tend to draw information have caused me to feel that we may in fact be regressing as a nation. As such, each week in Dumb It Down, I will address a different issue that gives me cause to believe we might actually be headed towards a state of complete and total Idiocracy. So if you feel that the advancements of the few are leading to the intellectual atrophy of the many, this is the blog for you. And if you don’t, well maybe this weekly dose of anecdotes and musings about the regression of practical intelligence will change your mind.
Enough preface already, here’s a story!
Yesterday I went to get sushi with a friend. This friend is a smart and confident 20 year old who has had many promising internships and consistently makes honor roll in the accounting department at USC. I drove my German engineered automobile literally one block from my house to the restaurant while my friend rode his bike over. Ok, he’s winning so far. We ate some sushi rolls and potstickers that in no way resembled the typical cuisine of a Japanese citizen and were soon on our way. But just as I pulled out of the parking lot I received a frantic call from my beach cruising buddy asking me to please come back because there was an emergency. What was it, you ask. Fire? Tornado? Of course not: it was just a case of good old-fashioned ineptitude towards anything that isn’t automated or electronic.
He explained to me that the chain had fallen off of his bike and he didn’t know how to put it back. My first thought was that he was joking, followed shortly by the notion that he wanted to trick me into being the one who got grease all over my hands. But as I looked up at him, it finally hit me that he was completely serious. This seems like a good time to mention that beach cruisers – unlike other bikes – have only one gear in the back and one in the front. If somebody understands that the chain goes on the gears, there is literally only one option for how to fix it (put the chain back on)!
After the appropriate amount of teasing I told him how to fix this complicated new-fangled apparatus he was riding and prepared to leave for a second time. As an afterthought, I asked if he knew how to change a car tire to which he replied, “Yea dude, you call Triple A”. Needless to say, the joke I made about kicking him in the lug nuts as I drove away went completely unappreciated…