The internet is a cesspool of stupidity. A quagmire of stupidity. A bukkake of stupidity.
We are showered with idiocy every few seconds, relentlessly. This is not limited to the internet; advertising doesn’t actually have to tell you the truth. But when everyone thinks they are, due to the myth of false advertising, we pass the shit along like it’s the first Showcase Showdown (always wait for the second one). I would estimate that more stupidity abounds on the web than intelligent material, which is a lot, considering how we have access to everything known to man at our fingertips. Where before when one had to basically be literate or a learned scholar to publish your words (or rich enough to afford the latest printing press from Best Buy), now any moron can jump online and puke out nonsense with reckless abandon.
Every idiot now has a platform. One that can reach millions. Instantly.
This is like handing a toddler an AK-47 that never needs to be reloaded and setting them down in Times Square. While this might seem hilarious to some, it is a fucking disaster to sane people everywhere.
Only with the internet, we participate in the fuckery and we make it worse, simply by pointing it out. We like to highlight stupid things to express our disdain for stupid things. It is relatively harmless to watch some idiot lighting firecrackers sticking out of his ass, but it actually becomes dangerous when we share or respond to people who are best left ignored. The Westboro Baptist Church is a great example. They continue to thrive because we are constantly pointing out how stupid they are. We give them power. If we really wanted them to go away, the correct answer is to ignore them and act as if they weren’t even there. They would atrophy and eventually we’d never hear from them again, just like every celebrity who can’t stay in the spotlight. We move on. We can only focus on what’s right in front of our faces.
When we share anything stupid — and to clarify, what I mean here is anything not backed up by actual facts — even knowingly, we take the chance on someone else actually believing it.
But seriously. There are no limits to how much idiocy a person can produce on the internet. Just look at Youtube comments. We are gorging ourselves daily on the idiot buffet. The problem, though, is that it doesn’t end there. When we share anything stupid — and to clarify, what I mean here is anything not backed up by actual facts — even knowingly, we take the chance on someone else actually believing it. This kind of shit is everywhere. It’s like how porn ads were in the 1990s. You can’t avoid it. Every political pundit relies on this concept, every celebrity with a cause, every “health guru.” This is how we end up with people like the Food Babe and David Wolfe, who can be completely full of shit and still amass a giant throng of rabid followers who believe every goddamn thing they say.
Nobody checks anything, you know, to makes sure it’s legit. What’s worse, though, is that people have a real aversion to admitting they’re wrong. So even if we can prove their hero is full of shit, they dismiss it and go right back to being idiots. Seriously, we’ve long since proven that the original autism-vaccine study was a giant bag of fuck you, but it doesn’t matter. The damage was done. Instead of saying, “Well, okay then,” and that be the end of it, some other idiots have taken up the guidon like the debunking extravaganza never even happened.
More toddlers with automatic weapons. Imagine, for a minute, if the 2nd Amendment was unlimited in just about every way. Imagine if every person in America had as many guns as they wanted and almost zero oversight. Imagine that stupid inbred neighbor of yours, or teenagers, or your dumbest uncle being let loose about town with this sweet, unbridled arsenal, knowing that whatever they choose to do probably won’t have any consequences. Maybe if they threaten the President with violence, but that’s about it. It’s easy to picture shit spinning out of control when you think about it like that.
Except that this is exactly what we’re doing with the 1st Amendment. We’re giving every motherfucker as many guns as they want, unlimited ammo, and none of the responsibility. There are very few repercussions for the comments and articles we post online. We bully the piss out of people, sometimes ruining their lives, sometimes going to so far as to induce suicide. We say things we would never say in person because we can hide behind anonymity.
We, collectively, are complicit in all this. We propagate the stupidity and give it wings. We smear it around in an effort to demonstrate our superiority over it. “Look at what this dumbass is saying!” It’s like having a homeless guy take a shit on the sidewalk and we’re picking it up and waving it all over. “See! See what he did! We don’t do that!” We might be well-intentioned in thinking that others will also see how stupid someone is, but that’s just not always the case. Someone in your network is going to agree with the idiot you’re deriding, or will believe it, or won’t know you’re being sarcastic, and on it goes. The very thing you sought to prevent is resuscitated and sent back to the front lines. Rather than destroy the One Ring, you decided to keep it for yourself and try to use its powers for good.
We are basically giving these morons free advertising and a chance for their lunacy to catch fire. Words are like sparks. All they need is fuel and pretty soon a conflagration blazes out of control (anti-vaxxer movement, stupid treatments for autism, someone making $55,000 on Kickstarter to make potato salad). The dumb stuff is always juicier, fattier than the honest stuff. That’s why it burns longer and hotter and faster. We can’t be throwing that shit onto the fire, though, just to watch what happens.
I get it. Everyone is stupid. I find myself thinking that way a LOT. I see everyone discussing the relative stupidity of others on the internet. Even people who are quite clearly inept and illiterate can be seen often bemoaning the stupidity of everyone else. “How can they be so DUMB? Don’t they understand? It’s not fucking hard!”
Everyone thinks everyone else is stupid.
It would be hard to know if one was stupid if, in fact, one was actually stupid. Don’t waste your time trying to figure it out. But one thing you can do, to help society, is to stop sharing the stupid shit people say because you feel the urge to point out how stupid it is. You’re doing those people a favor. Their words are carrying farther than, say, someone who says brilliant shit who can’t get an audience because people are more interested in cat memes. Gandhi said to be the change you want to see in the world, so maybe start sharing the things you can actually be proud of. Share things that make other people smarter and do us all a favor.