Oh Dear, Oh Deer.
The semi-recent suburban youth film Empire Records featured a couple of scenes where one character glued a few coins to the ground while the audience got a healthy chuckle out of watching people try to pick them up. Miraculously, glued coins started popping up everywhere: sidewalks, malls, parks, and especially schools. The joke got a bit old after a while, and soon enough, fizzled away. Then, about a year later, I pass a penny on the floor at my old high school, and kick it. The penny didn’t move. I looked down, and realized that someone had glued the thing down tails up. People are superstitious, and nine out of ten passers-by probably wouldn’t have even attempted to pick the coin up in fear of bad luck, not to mention most people don’t pick up pennies anyway. It must have been a slow day for the pranksters. Idiots.
Everyone says the world is full of idiots, and it’s probably true. Enough people die each year in bizarre ways to constitute “Darwin Awards,” and technical support representatives get calls from disgruntled consumers asking where the “any key” is. School Board administrators think that banning trenchcoats is going to solve school violence, and one out of four Americans smoke despite seeing scientific evidence that it’s going to kill them, then go ahead and sue tobacco companies because news of their lung cancer didn’t brighten their day. Therefore, it’s pretty obvious that the herds of sheep that make up humanity aren’t comprised of aspiring Einsteins, and just about anyone you talk to will agree with that. Yet if everyone is consistently pointing fingers in the air and claiming that the Earth’s populace consists of people hovering far below the intelligence mark, where ARE all these dumb people?
Take a look in the mirror, and then you’ve got yourself an educated answer. You. Yes, you, the same one who’s smart enough to be reading this tiny text here. You, my dear friend, are the dumb one. As am I, as are the guys who collect your trash, as are the presidents of major corporations and the scientists who developed the machines that print this publication. Everyone does dumb things in their lives, but somehow everything unintelligent gets pinned down to the mass of imaginary scapegoats. Hell, just last month I found myself chasing a fly around the bathroom with a plunger because it was the only thing I could find that would reach the ceiling. Am I to be excommunicated to this hypothetical central hub of stupid people for my mishap?
If you can tell me you’ve never done a stupid thing in your life then you probably just performed your most inane task. How can people stand apart from the rest of society and label everyone else dumber than they? Where do these astronomical egos come from? It always seems as if the people making these profoundly daft claims carry with them a smarter-than-you attitude. Yet what stupid claims they’re making!
So what makes “everyone” so dumb? There are certainly people who carry with them a much smaller load of common sense than their neighbors, but does that make them so mentally primitive? I’ll admit, there are people who aren’t packed with facts and historical data, and there are whole sections of society that wouldn’t even know how to begin reading the alphabet, let alone this article. Not too long ago, I met a twenty-one year old girl who didn’t know her right from her left. And despite the overwhelming amount of stupid things people do, I feel uncomfortable setting myself apart with a group of others that claim that “everyone else” is an idiot. Because really now, what does that make us?
Now understand, what I’m about to do is go out on a limb and stand up for the human race. Yet when I think of all the little sacs of hemoglobin inhabiting this planet, I think of them on an individual level. Granted, once people form groups and governments, more gatherings such as committees and media will form. What these collections of people accomplish and fail to accomplish is, many times, a dark cloud hanging over humanity’s head. Sticking cameras in high school students’ faces after their friends had been shot to death isn’t something I’m proud to be a part of, but I do maintain that masses are not a collective group of brains; they’re a collective void of conflicting ideas and opinions. Does this excuse actions like yearlong coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial? Certainly not. However, I’d prefer to deal with the idea of people individually. Once they’re in a group, the positive or negative results are up in the air.
With that said, the source of much of this widespread “stupidity” goes back to a conversation I had with some friends once. I had pointed out that, although deer get hit by cars, not all of them die. Whereas every bunny that gets smacked by a fast-moving automobile probably checks its soul at the door, deer are pretty big animals. I’m willing to bet that plenty of deer get smacked, left for dead, and wake up twenty minutes later feeling like that poor man after the NYPD got through with him. They must, I’m sure, go back to the rest of the deer population and say, “Hey, you know that place with the really fast things on it? Don’t go there. It hurts like hell.” Why, then, do deer continue to get hit by cars? Is it a testament of the lack of communication amongst the large mammal populations?
No. Moreover, it’s a metaphor for why people drop acid and lick nine-volt batteries. Everyone needs the experience of something, because sometimes, just hearing about it isn’t enough. It’s why A.J. Ayer created a “Verification Principle,” where everything was considered nonsense unless it could be empirically verified. We don’t always have the foresight to realize what we’re doing is going to be taken as a lesson in the ridiculous. Sometimes common sense isn’t always the governing force in people’s actions, but that doesn’t make everyone but the holier-than-thou intelligensia groups a sea of bumbling morons. People need to try things out, and half the time they do stupid things. So lay off people, will you? There is a human nature, and sometimes it makes us fools.
Then we make fun of each other.