The lowest common denominator of intelligence

posted by Jeff | Friday, September 4, 2009, 3:21 PM | comments: 0

In the midst of all the stupidity and hating on Cedar Point for announcing a ride that's not a roller coaster, someone recently pointed out that the comment threads on the newspaper Web sites everywhere were significantly worse. Not for this story necessarily, but in a general sense. I guess in the back of my mind, I already knew this, but the reality seemed bigger to me when that was pointed out. That makes me sad.

Use of the Internet has become so ubiquitous now that stupid has taken hold of it. It doesn't help that celebrities like Shaq post shit on Twitter like, "deeez nuts, aha got yalll, if u fell for that come on now, lol lmfao, aha got u all." What the hell is that even supposed to mean? But the worst is on these news sites, without a doubt. There is unbridled hate, anger and stupidity in quantities that cause me to fear for our future.

It wasn't supposed to go down like that. Because the Internet was so rich in information, and so available, people were supposed to become smarter and more informed. Instead it has become just another place for people to post whatever is already in their head. Opinions are fine, but as the saying goes, they're like ass holes and everyone has one.

Understand that I'm not trying to make some case for being elite or establish class boundaries or anything of that sort. This is not what I want for our culture. I was hoping the Internet would actually do the opposite. It reminds me of what Bill Cosby said in Detroit the other day. Education is free, so why the hell would you not take advantage of it? The Internet has limitless information, and a lot of it is amazing.

The stupidity translates into real life too. Like that moron who stood up at one of those health care town hall meetings to call the proposed bill a "Nazi health care plan." Does she have any idea what the Nazis were about? Even if you believe the bill would establish the worst health care system imaginable, it's not one designed to slaughter Jews and establish a "pure" white race. It's offensive and moronic to compare anything that Congress has ever done in a hundred years to mass-murdering nut jobs. And yet, despite having limitless information at our finger tips, that's how people roll.

Much is made about the financial erosion of the middle class, but what about the erosion of an educational "middle class?" Are we destined to have a further split between people who make an effort to think and understand, and the rest who don't? It seems to me that would be an epic failure on the part of our society.

I suppose I'm still naive in my optimism, but I'm not convinced even with thousands of years of documented anthropology that we're destined to have a society that is always split in some way. I can't believe that it's a zero-sum game where there will always be smarter richer people at the expense of stupid poor people. But it sure feels like the bell curve is inverting.

We still uphold standards for grammar on our sites, even if the debates sometimes aren't the most informed. It's a start, and I'm not willing to let my little corner of the Internet be stupid.


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