In the unfortunate case you haven’t seen it, Idiocracy is a 2005 Mike Judge film (maker of Beavis & Butt-Head, King of the Hill, and Office Space) that depicts a future America that has gone off the rails. The country has been overtaken by anti-intellectualism, or more accurately, the population has been dumbed down to a ridiculous extent. In this fictional dystopian future, the country has elected a professional wrestler as President, and commercialism and advertising have become the only things anyone cares about. An “Average Joe” who awakes from a 500-year suspended animation experiment is suddenly the smartest man in America, by far. If you think this doesn’t sound so far from today’s reality, you aren’t the only one. Even one of the show’s writers is there with you.
But how much truth is there to this? Are we really becoming a society of anti-intellectualism?
There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility. …
In American schools, the culture exalts the athlete and good-looking cheerleader. Well-educated and intellectual students are commonly referred to in public schools and the media as “nerds,” “dweebs,” “dorks,” and “geeks,” and are relentlessly harassed and even assaulted by the more popular “jocks” for openly displaying any intellect. These anti-intellectual attitudes are not reflected in students in most European or Asian countries, whose educational levels have now equaled and and will surpass that of the U.S. And most TV shows or movies such as The Big Bang Theory depict intellectuals as being geeks if not effeminate. …
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. …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.
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.
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