There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in the world today and my beloved country isn’t left out of this trend, she in fact seem to be taking a front row seat in this disturbing evolution. It’s the dismissal of reasoning, thinking, and reading and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility. This downward trend is what has been dubbed “dumbing down” by Psychology Today .
A Dumb Generation
“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” Laurence J. Peter
There is a particular quote attributed to Albert Einstein about the undoubtability of stupidity in our world, “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe”. And what is the course of this dumbness, I’ll answer with another quote attributed to Einstein, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”.
The dearth of a reading culture around the world is gradually reducing intellectualism and people now find more comfort in social media TV reality show. We’ve seen a lot of campaigns against corruption, evil and wickedness but really what we should be campaigning against is stupidity because that is the real danger to the world. Jim Butcher in one of his books claimed emphatically that, “Evil isn’t the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it’s a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference”.
Even our education system no longer educates. They just train you to get a degree with which you can carry about to get a job or start working. Nobody is ready to impact knowledge anymore because it seems too tedious a job to do for such little pay. The teaching profession has become a hand down last option job when all else fails. Teachers and lecturers struggle to put clothes on their backs while TV hosts and slim models move from mansions to duplexes at will. Students take more pleasure in reading fashion magazines than real knowledge impacting books.
We now have a culture that exalts the athletes and good looking slim models over intellectuals. The most beautiful girl girl on campus or in a department, lives a more comfortable lifestyle than the most brilliant student. Professors are scorned when they ask for a salary raise but we have no problem paying wardrobe allowances to politicians who are paid to sit. The Mis-whatsover-university is more rewarded for her nothingness while the best graduating student of the same university gets a handshake. We are more happy to see Kim Kardashian spill her rubbish on TV than spend time to listen to the news. We’re all very eager to see “what Annie Idibia wore to the beach” or know why “lil kesh dropped out of school” than “why the naira keeps struggling against the dollar”.
We’re creating a world of dummies. Angry dummies who feel they have the right, the authority and the need not only to comment on everything, but to make sure their voice is heard above the rest, and to drag down any opposing views through personal attacks, loud repetition and confrontation.
“Bill Keller, writing in the New York Times argues that the anti-intellectual elitism is not an elitism of wisdom, education, experience or knowledge. The new elite are the angry social media posters, those who can shout loudest and more often, a clique of bullies and malcontents baying together like dogs cornering a fox. Too often it’s a combined elite of the anti-intellectuals and the conspiracy followers – not those who can voice the most cogent, most coherent response. Together they foment a rabid culture of anti-rationalism where every fact is suspect; every shadow holds a secret conspiracy. Rational thought is the enemy. Critical thinking is the devil’s tool.
Keller also notes that the herd mentality takes over online; the anti-intellectuals become the metaphorical equivalent of an angry lynch mob when anyone either challenges one of the mob beliefs or posts anything outside the mob’s self-limiting set of values.
Keller blames this in part to the online universe that “skews young, educated and attentive to fashions.” Fashion, entertainment, spectacle, voyeurism – we’re directed towards trivia, towards the inconsequential, towards unquestioning and blatant consumerism. This results in intellectual complacency. People accept without questioning, believe without weighing the choices, join the pack because in a culture where convenience rules, real individualism is too hard work. Thinking takes too much time: it gets in the way of the immediacy of the online experience.” Psychology Today
There is an urgent need for a reorientation. There is an urgent need for self education. There is an urgent need for intellectual curiosity. Without these, this downward spiral will eat up our society so deep beyond reparations.