Having said goodbye to another year in history, it’s always fun to go back and lend some hindsight wisecracks to past events. It was clear from the actions of some in the west during 2009 that stupidity has evolved much the same way technology has evolved since the late 1990s. In fact, technology has helped bring stupidity to the masses on a grand scale and has even exacerbated the phenomenon by promoting stupidity (I’m talking about the internet and social media, in case you’re too stupid to realise that).
The obvious example is Facebook and what has been coined “snafus”. The term is basically another name for “stupidity” with the prime example being the dim-witted young lady who bagged out her boss on her Facebook wall, forgetting the fact that she had added him as a friend. He could read everything and he promptly replied to her post, returning her insults and letting her know not to bother coming back to the office. There were many others, not in the least being the simple act of wasting your time in the first place on the social experiment and data collection tool that is Facebook (but that’s another story).
2009 certainly began with a big blast of stupidity, otherwise known as Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration. Not since the Nuremberg Rallies had the world witnessed such an outpouring of overzealous patriotism. The campaign slogans of “Hope” and “Change” have since proved correct, but not in the manner intended. “Hope” is a belief without end, the term itself signifying something possibly intangible (ie: what exactly are we hoping for?). The “Change” has been in Obama’s popularity, which has plummeted in recent months. But the most stupid aspect of the new Presidential era is the reaction to Obama and his administration by the mainstream news media, particularly Fox. Unwilling to denounce the actions of former President Bush during his time in office, Fox News lackeys now criticise Obama for continuing the policies of his predecessor. Fair and balanced? Try right-wing forever.
America is the land of great stupidity, which is surprising considering her accomplishments. Take for instance these two guys from Iowa. They thought it would be a swell idea to break into an apartment, but they couldn’t afford some cheap Wal-Mart balaclavas. So, this brain-dead pair decided to disguise their faces with black permanent marker. Trouble is, they didn’t bother to wash it off afterwards (or couldn’t get it off) and were eventually picked up by police, obviously following a simple witness description of “dudes with black pen on their faces”. They weren’t too hard to find. And then there was Mary Jo Coady, who claimed to have seen Jesus burnt into the base of her iron. She and her daughters said it was proof that “he’s listening” and decided to store the iron in a closet for posterity and buy a new one. While you’re trawling ebay for a new iron Mary Jo, might I suggest you also bid on the Dorito with the image of Mary Magdalene, or the item I have for auction – a carrot shaped like Elvis.
But America isn’t the only place where stupidity reigns. Here in Australia we have the same moribund fascination with celebrities, both home-grown and abroad. Some would say we have derived our culture from the influence of America, but that is beside the point. A few months ago the Federal Government proposed a ban on television for under-two’s. The proposal itself wasn’t stupid – the manner in which it would actually be enforced was lacking. But what is really troubling is that people need to be told that television for infants (or toddlers) is a bad idea. The tube is bad enough for adults, let alone for the young in the beginnings of their developmental process. Now that’s stupid.
And no piece on stupidity would be complete without some worthwhile hoaxes that sucked in the dumb and gullible. Many years ago, the photograph to the left was manipulated and entered into a contest calling for the best fake archaeological discoveries. Yet, for many years, this photograph alone was cited by many as definitive proof of a lost civilisation of “giants”, believed by some to be the Sumerian “Annunaki” gods. And still, last year, videos could be found on YouTube (and the use of the image on other websites) proclaiming this very “fact”. Satire? Maybe. Stupidity? Definitely. But it was nothing compared to the discovery of “Atlantis” off the coast of Africa in satellite photos, later shown to be artefacts of the digital imaging process. And my favourite, the giant snake slithering down a river in Borneo. The photo (right) is amusingly stupid for two reasons. One, it is obviously fake; and two, someone actually thought it necessary to place a big red circle around the serpent. Stupid!
I could proceed onward and downward, but I’ll spare all of you the diatribe. But let’s make 2010 a year where we all be less infatuated with the lives of celebrities, think critically about the information we are handed by our media, and above all, do some proper research before proclaiming to believe in photographic proof of a penguin bearing tentacles.
by Max Drake