I'm Just Sayin' - Dumb and dumber: Not the movie, the human conditionAll right, first of all, a full confession. Maybe I’m weird (many would agree with that), but one of my favorite comedic movies is Dumb and Dumber with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. It takes a cynical slapstick view of our culture.
By: DuWayne Paul, Echo Press columnist, Alexandria Echo Press
All right, first of all, a full confession. Maybe I’m weird (many would agree with that), but one of my favorite comedic movies is Dumb and Dumber with Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. It takes a cynical slapstick view of our culture. I never get tired of the reruns and I am always amused by the silliness, even though I’ve seen it many times. But, to my amazement, I came across a quote in a recent publication that caught my attention.
It is from a column by Mike Barrett in Natural Society. He is referencing Dr. Gerald Crabtree, a Stanford University researcher and geneticist. The quote says: “Would you be surprised to hear that the human race is slowly becoming dumber and dumber?” My thoughts immediately went to Lloyd and Harry from the movie, but that is not what the research and the quote is about. So, my interest was piqued and I wanted to learn more. After all, are we all doomed to be like Lloyd and Harry?
Dr. Crabtree’s basic premise is that human cognitive and emotional capabilities are based on the combined efforts of thousands of genes. If any one of those genes has mutated over thousands of years, then intelligence and emotional stability can be impacted, thus resulting in a steady decline of overall human intelligence. Whodathunk? (Spell check didn’t like this word, but I do.)
I have a different explanation. The overall level of human intelligence is declining due to “cocooning” and “cyber loafing.” Cocooning is the act of insulating or hiding oneself from the normal social environment. Cyber loafing is a slang term used to describe employees who surf the net, write e-mails, or perform other Internet activities at work that are not related to their job. Cyber loafing has also crept into our lives away from work when we spend too much time in front of a computer screen. Cocooning and cyber loafing are activities that feed on each other to contribute to the “dumbing down of society.” In what ways, you may ask?
Would you rather pop some popcorn and plop down to watch a movie at home than go to the theater or cinema? Would you rather cook and eat at home than go to a restaurant? Do you avoid debate on politics, religion, education, etc. because you just don’t want the hassle? Would you rather watch the Vikings, Twins, Wild or Gophers on TV rather than go to the game? These are but a few examples, and I realize these questions can be answered with financial reasons. Some of this has just gotten too expensive. However, is part of the answer that we just don’t want to be around people? Maybe you are cocooning.
Are you spending too much time in front of a computer screen posting, liking, sharing, tweeting, playing games or just reading stuff? After all, they can’t put anything on the Internet that is not true, right? How long has it been since you read a book, wrote a letter, or composed something of your own creation? Maybe you are cyber loafing.
Since it was popularized by early Greek society, social interaction, education and debate have spawned cultural and societal growth. It seems like we are losing that.
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“Lloyd, just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself!” Harry speaking to Lloyd in Dumb and Dumber after Lloyd trades the van for a moped.
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DuWayne Paul of Alexandria is a regular contributing columnist for the Echo Press.