Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Dumbing-Down of America

It has happened slowly, as complex things do.  Erosion occurs so slowly that we hardly notice.  One day, the stream is knee-deep, and before we know it, the stream is up to our neck.  The Grand Canyon was formed similarly.  What we are going through now is the geologic equivalent of stream erosion, and we now find ourselves at the bottom of the canyon.

In the 1970s, when I was in high school, I heard my fellow students proclaim, "Why should I pay attention to algebra? We'll never use it in real life!"  Seemingly, they would never use high-powered math in their lifetimes.  Suffice it to say that most of them cannot calculate a 20% tip at a restaurant without a phone app.  Little did I know that they were not paying attention in English class either.  This is supported by reading their Facebook posts where their, they're, and there are the same word; and you're is replaced by your because those are the same, also.

If I decide to correct their atrocious grammar and usage, I am labeled a Grammar Nazi and my criticism is dismissed with the phrase, "You know what I mean." If that holds, then one could say that 5 plus 5 equals 12 because, well ... you know what I mean.
The same is true of cell phone texts where punctuation is dismissed, spelling is excused, and "auto-correct" is blamed for every mistake made.  Sometimes it is the carpenter, and not the tools.

Music has gotten dumber.  In 1989, Milli Vanilli lip-synced a performance on MTV.  It was discovered, and their career was terminated because it was such an egregious act that the community could not tolerate it.  On New Year's Eve, Mariah Carey was blatantly lip-syncing at TImes Square, and the whole event was laughed-off as a "technical malfunction," and one would presume that she will continue to demand hundreds of dollars for her performances in the future.  Rob Pilatus is laughing in his grave.

Television is dumber, too.  Situation comedies, variety shows, and dramas have been replaced by so-called "Reality Television," which is neither reality nor television.  It is scripted and set-up to enhance the experience - hence "Pawn Stars," "Storage Wars," and several shows whose names begin with "American."  It is reality disguised as documentary, placed on television.  The reality is in your mind.

The idea here is that everything is being presented as entertainment, and the entertainment is designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator.  WalMart shoppers are criticized as being the low-life's of society, but in fact they are the target demographic, because the people who want your vote recognize the majority.

Vote? Did he say vote?  Yes - and here's the object.  The election of Donald J. Trump as President has completed the cycle of dumbing down America.  It took many years, and it occurred gradually (as erosion does) but it happened.  One of our parties (typically the Republicans) found someone who could appeal to the lowest common denominator of society, and as such, get a majority of the electoral votes and thereby elected President.  His supporters are the least educated, lowest income, and furthest from the high-end of society.  If that sounds bigoted, then go ahead and prove me wrong.

He Tweets from his bully pulpit, proclaiming his ideas (whether true or false) as documents of his administration, and persuades big corporations to alter their business plan to succumb to his wishes. We have gone from a President whose eloquence is historic to a President whose chief method of communication is 140 characters with multiple exclamation points.  His press conference today was a display of ignorance against the media.  He proclaims something "fake news" and we are supposed to accept that.  Sadly, we are in for 4 years of his proclamations of his truth and his "I'm rubber, you're glue" method of arguing anything that is presented to him as contrary to his opinion.  He is conducting his Presidency as he has conducted his television show:  As an entertainment medium.

Slowly and gradually, entertainment has eroded. The erosion of entertainment has finally led to the acceptance of one of the contributors of the erosion as a leader of the nation.  We have elected a President who was once a part of the problem.

As a side note, let's rail against those who say that celebrities should not have a public forum to express their opinions.  Well - you elected a celebrity who once had a forum and is now in charge of the forum - so, go ahead and tell them that they cannot have an opinion.  It's a two-way street.

America has been dumbed-down to its last vestige.  It literally cannot go below this, which is ironically the highest office in the nation.
Congratulations citizens, you have achieved the perfect irony: You elected the chief idiot to lead us.

Godspeed, America.

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