I watched the movie Idiocracy years ago on the recommendation of a friend. It is a silly 20’s comedy starring Luke Wilson and Rosie Perez. The premise is that the entire population has become less and less intelligent over time. The idiotic problems this causes is thrown into sharp relief by the arrival of unintentional time travellers from the past.
With every passing year, this movie starts to feel more like reality and that is a very scary thing.
Right now we are in a situation where audience is more important than anything else. This means that anyone who can entertain now has more social sway than people who have years of experience. We are in a position where people who dance, fight, game or prank others are being held up as authorities because of their opinions regardless of their lack of experience or personal biases.
What is allowing this to happen is our waning attention spans and an increasing sense of self-importance. Our own opinions and ambitions are more important than those of the wider community. We seek out support and validation of our personal opinions instead of facts and challenging viewpoints.
There is so much information being thrown at us all day long in the form of podcasts, videos, blogs and social networks that we are mentally exhausted from low-level stress. We don’t have either the time or the attention span required to think critically about the information that is being served to us.
This is a system that rewards quick action, mindless entertainment and controversy over experience, thoughtfulness and inclusivity. It is a recipe for disaster. We are all like those frogs in the pot of water – the water is slowly heating up so we don’t really notice how divided, distracted and angry we are becoming.
How can we fix this?
I have no idea of where all this is leading us and equally no idea of how we can turn back the tide but Viktor Frankl’s profound quote is surely a good place to start:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
(Highly recommended read: Man’s Search For Meaning – a psychologist’s experience in a concentration camp)
That quote is one of the most valuable tools we can use to help navigate every area of life. Whenever anything triggers a strong emotional stimulus that divides us, we need to pause and step away. Think of a time when someone ridiculed you for something you said or did – were you more inclined to try to understand their viewpoint or did you become more entrenched in your own, becoming more angry and frustrated? That situation was always painful but it was the times when I had time to breathe and allowed myself to think ‘what if they were right’ or ‘what can I learn from this that I let go of the anger and learned something new.
Being able to step away, breathe and consider alternative viewpoints is a skill. An invaluable skill that we need to work on every single day.
However, probably even more important is the need for those who value experience, facts and inclusivity to understand the new world order. The world has changed, we can’t expect the masses to seek out complex papers or find the time to locate unbiased sources.
We need to find a way to get higher quality information to audiences in an entertaining format without compromising integrity. No easy task.
Fact-based, entertaining sources of information
I’d love to hear any recommendations you have for excellent sources of information that are both entertaining and unbiased.
This is the beginning of a list that I intend to keep updating – please do make suggestions:
- Crash Course: Free high quality, educational videos – https://www.youtube.com/c/crashcourse/playlists
- ASAP Science: Whiteboard videos that explain scientific ideas – https://www.youtube.com/c/AsapSCIENCE
- Whiteboard Crypto: An easy way to understand the complexity of Crypto and the Blockchain: https://www.youtube.com/c/WhiteboardCrypto
- Science VS: Podcast – https://gimletmedia.com/shows/science-vs
I really don’t want my children or grandchildren growing up in an idiocracy.