It seems like every generation swears that the subsequent generation is as dumb as dirt. That they have dumbed down everything to the least common denominator. And that things are going to hell in a hand basket, because things sure aren’t like they used to be. After all, it is our generation (whichever one you belong to) that set the gold standard for civilization.
But what if this dumbing-down really did happen to each successive generation? Where would it all lead? Is it possible to have a nation of dolts totally incapable of critical thinking (or any thinking), blindly accepting the marketing drivel of companies as if it were the gospel truth? Passively sitting around watching TV or playing video games, amused by scenes that make The 3 Stooges look like Nobel Prize winners?
Mike Judge’s Idiocracy describes such a scenario. A person of average intelligence willingly participates in an Army experiment to be cryogenically suspended for a year, but things run amok and our test subject has his awakening 500 years from now in a society that is so intellectually dilluted as to render it mentally impotent.
And our hero is suddenly the smartest person in the country.
Scary, huh? I hate to think that the premise is even possible, but then I have read all my student responses to the Subway vs. McDonald’s blog from two days ago. And you know what? I think we all take a little too much at face value, and blindly accept messages as well as make faulty conclusions. I, too, have been guilty of assuming everything is peachy keen at Subway. Until I took it upon myself to drill around their website to find the nutritional data.
In Judge’s future world, water has been replaced by Brawndo, The Thirst Mutilator. It’s got electrolytes. It must be good, right? So everyone drinks it. All the time. From water fountains. And they even tried to water their crops with it. But nothing would grow.
While Judge’s sense of humor (he created Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, and Office Space, if that says anything) appeals more to guys with its often juvenile stunts and frequent injuries to male anatomy, his fantasy future land is a little unnerving. Why? Because it really doesn’t seem too far-fetched.
I see evidence of this dumbing-down all too often today. I shudder to think what could happen in 500 years if we don’t start looking at things critically. The fashion mavens tell us what styles and colors are hot this season, so people run out and buy them like good little consumers. Detroit tells us that driving a military personnel carrier is cool, so we buy Hummers and enough gas to keep three families commuting to and from work. Jared tells us he lost weight at Subway, so we flock there and drown our sandwiches with honey mustard dressing…all 12 inches of them.
I don’t know about you, but part of me says that Judge’s distant land really isn’t too far off. I hope there’s time to save the Untied Staits uv Ahmarika befour itz two layt.
Dr “Heh-Heh” Gerlich