Since the dawn of human civilization, every time a new technology gets invented, enthusiasts claim that the world will never be the same. And yet, from a societal and human experience point, it always is.
With the democratization of knowledge, today’s social technologies promise nothing short of ubiquitous intelligence. After all, what’s to hold back someone with a smart phone from being smart? Social platforms and free access to data are envisioned to lift the uninspired from mediocrity, and to forever demolish the title of talented or genius.
It suffices however to take a look at the content being proliferated on social platforms to realize that while information is abundant, knowledge remains scarce. It still takes human talent to see the forest from the trees. Worse, the search for a holistic view of reality is compromised by the fragmentation of infinite threads.
If anything, vanity is larger than ever. Since the democratization of posting content, everyone has suddenly become an “author”. Einstein himself would have trouble getting attention on today’s “feeds”.
Let’s get back to stupidity. What is stupidity in the first place? I propose it is a lack of context. It is the impulsiveness of reaching a fast conclusion that misses the bigger picture. With this definition in mind, stupidity may actually be on the rise, encouraged by a loss of context through fragmentation.
Einstein purportedly remarked that “stupidity is a personal achievement which transcends national boundaries”. I say what better tool to facilitate the globalization of stupidity than social media?
We are back to square one. Or maybe, back to square zero.