Sunday, May 11, 2014

Stupidity is Unbearably Cool

This is the part where I go on a rant about what I can't stand for another moment. This time, even at the risk of sounding like a 47 year old winging prat, it's going to be aimed at some of the young people of today.

All you need to do is jump onto Instagram and have a look at the feed of someone around the age of 15. What do you see?

Pouting selfies in the bathroom mirror, sometimes with the delightful addition of the family toilet in the background. Flower headbands and bindis, as if they're on their way to Woodstock. If of course they knew what Woodstock was. Or where it was. Or why it was. Or in fact could name two bands that played there.

And this is the problem. When did it stop being cool to be smart and start being cool to be an idiot?

I overheard a conversation (if you could call it that) the other day on the street between two girls. It went something like this:

"I dyed my hair. Do you like it? I love it."
"Yeah I love it too."
"Yeah, it's pretty much the same as Arianna Grande."
"Oh, I love her. I'm obsessed with her."
"Me too!"
"Shut up. No way!"
"Yes way! Aha!"
"Haha. That's, like, hilarious."
"I'm so obsessed. I'm obsessed with Audrey Hepburn too."
"Oh, she was so classy. Like, really classy and stylish."
"Oh yeah, she totally was. I love her in Breakfast at Tiffany's"
"That's my favourite movie!"
"Have you seen her in anything else?'
"Um.. No. But I watch Breakfast at Tiffany's all the time. And Mean Girls."
"Oh, Mean Girls is so funny. It's like my life.'

And so it went on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. Although, they wouldn't know that I was quoting The Great Gatsby, because I'm fairly sure they don't read anything. Other than perhaps the fashion section of Cosmo.

They are "obsessed" with Audrey Hepburn, yet have seen only one of her movies. Hardly an obsession.

Are they aware that she could speak five languages (English, Spanish, French, Dutch, and Italian) fluently? I doubt it. These girls could hardly speak English properly. Do they realise that during Nazi occupation in the Netherlands she was forced to eat tulip bulbs and attempt to bake grass into bread just to to survive during WWII? Do they even know when WWII occurred? Or why?

It's both frustrating and horrifying to think that in a time of smart phones, we're churning out stupid people. At no time in the history of the universe have humans had access to the amount of information at their disposal now, and yet we've never been stupider.

The knowledge they are missing is not optional - it's part of being a valuable and productive human in today's society.

It's important to know why world wars developed and how they were stopped. It's important to know how many people have lost their life in past protests, and for what purpose. It's important to be able to recognize the Mona Lisa, identify Picasso's trademark cubism, have an opinion about live exports, know where your vegetables comes from, explain photosynthesis, choose what chemicals you will and won't ingest, understand what antibiotics do to your immune system, and question the origins of life on earth.

It's not optional. It's an integral, yet often absent, part of human existence. With this greater understanding of how our minds work, what art is, what countries need our help and why, and what 'fair trade' means, we can move forward.

That is what humanity needs now, not Arianna Grande's hair.