Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Let’s Face It...

I recently watched one of many ancient astronaut shows on the History Channel. It was one of those lazy Saturdays that had me drifting into my day slowly, leaving the TV on longer than I should after checking the morning news. I heard speaker after speaker asserting that the only way we could have built an assortment of complex stone structures in ancient days was if some external possibly alien force intervened to help us cut stone so exactly and carry massive weights such great distances.

There were a few counter arguments to keep the network from looking like they’d completely discarded any credibility to suck up to a popular pop culture market. They offered opinions by contrary scientists and experts almost apologetically, as if afraid that pointing out the obvious might get them a barrage of angry letters or protests. I’ve heard it all before. I grew up with it, and remember my grandmother’s collection of UFO books, still in my library, and the Von Danikan books, on and on, but never quite bought into it.

I feel compelled to finally reveal my own theory.

We’re stupid and we get stupider with every generation.

Our parents were right -- we are dumber than them, and they’re dumber than their parents, on and on, until we reach a golden age of humanity, Alexander conquering the world by 30, back to babies capable of levitating stones with their minds to build the pyramids for fun, like building blocks. I see a past world of wonders built by the architects of democratic systems that later generations couldn’t sustain, of graceful economic systems that dumbasses like us screw up until they crash.

We can’t figure out how they did it because we’ve lost it. Whatever it was we started with -- the ability to fly, to see in the dark so we didn’t need lights, telepathy, a world of plenty where enough food was here for everyone, human populations balanced with an area’s ability to sustain them, where cancer didn’t exist because of exposure to new materials we never needed before.

As we get dumber we need GPS, computers, calculators to fill in the gap, TV and the Internet to tell us what to do, how and where, everything automated into single finger Apps so we don’t have to use our dwindling intelligence for anything but basic survival. Earning enough money to buy the next machine that will save us.

iLife indeed.

Don't get me wrong. I am no exception, working hard to sustain the machines that keep me organized. E-Mail and my digital calendar make me enormously productive despite what may be familial ADHD. As things occur to me I can send an e-mail or schedule an activity in my calendar and go back to writing -- instead of stopping and going out to buy a light bulb because it’ll be dark in an hour and the lamp burned out yesterday, and do I have clean clothes, maybe I should do laundry, and where did I put that soap, do I need soap? Did I eat? Am I hungry?

Instead I schedule shopping, finish writing pages, go to the store with a list so I don’t make four trips, print out maps of where I am going to keep me focused so I don’t get lost and wander down side streets that looks interesting on the way.

Am I alone? I think not. I fear we’re getting dumber than we've ever been and in twenty generations we'll be drooling Eloi, fed on by H.G. Wells’ Morlocks, the technology that got us there forgotten, turned into religion. Why bring it up? Maybe if we realize it now, maybe we can do something about it. Improve our schools. Start listening to the last generation instead of repeating their mistakes in ignorance. Read about the last Great Depression and how we recovered from it instead of acting like Wall Street needs no regulation or controls, that it’ll find its own path to giving us all prosperity if we just leave it alone...but it looks like we won’t. Because we’re dumb. But…we can wise up again, with work.

At least I hope so.


Charles Gramlich said...

Did you see the movie "idiocracy?" It definitely followed the pattern you're suggesting. I think I can agree with you.

Anonymous said...

Look, humanity, it's like this:

If you can't explain it, it doesn't mean it was God.
If you can't explain it, it doesn't mean it was aliens.
Or the government.
Or whatever.
If you can't explain it, it just means you can't explain it.

Logic and reason is my only faith.

Shauna Roberts said...

Have you ever seen the "Jaywalking" segment on the Jay Leno Show? Jay walks up to random adults on the street and asks simple questions such as "Who was the first president of the United States" or "Who is this man?" (showing a picture of the president). Even college students and college graduates often can't answer the questions. Sometimes I fear for the future of our country because the knowledge base of the average person is so limited.

Shauna Roberts said...
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Shauna Roberts said...
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Shauna Roberts said...
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Phyllis Bourne said...

"Earning enough money to buy the next machine that will save us."

Love that line! And I love gadgets!

However, keeping up with them is getting pricey.

Stefanie Worth said...

There are so many things that I don't commit to memory anymore -- like ever-changing family phone numbers -- because technology can recall it for me. It's a little scary. What always works jolts me into another plane of thought is the untimely weather-related blackout. The last two electrical outages have been the reason I have a landline, returned to using a phone book (even if I just print out my contact lists and stick them in there!), and still keep a planner for the day job.

Pulling facts and figures out of ones head at work used to be the hallmark of valued workers. Now, it's whoever can pull up the answer the fastest on their fancy phone. Yes, I'd say we are dumbing down.

Liane Spicer said...

I was a Von Daniken fan in my callow youth. :D

Confessions aside, I've been coming to the same conclusion myself. One of the prime examples imo is in the way we (refuse to) raise our children. I remember our bitch, and the neighbour's cats, and the way they trained their young, the way they treated the responsibility of disciplining their litters as a matter of life and death (which it is). We, the 'superior' species, can't even manage that. The tails wag the dogs, the puppies run amok in their homes and schools. My great-grandmother had more sense in her pinky than all the expensive child psychologists with their multiple credentials out there.

Definitely dumbing down.