Are We the Generation of Idiots As Foretold in the 20th Century?
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Last Updated: September 28, 2020
I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.
The above is a popular phrase attributed to the German-born physicist Albert Einstein who in the 1940s, was concerned about the ultimate power of technology and the influence it would have on future generations.
The attribution is however deemed incorrect by the scholarly world because of a lack of credible documentation and proof. In any case, they say, he did not really hate technology. He regarded it positively in the fight against war at the time.
Still, Einstein was worried about the effects of science and technology on humanity, and in his own words said,
I believe that the abominable deterioration of ethical standards stems primarily from the mechanization and depersonalization of our lives–a disastrous by-product of science and technology. Nostra culpa!
Have these thoughts come to pass?
Whether Einstein alluded to a generation of idiots or not, does not really matter. The truth is, the extreme indulgence we have cultivated with technology is alarming! And just as well, we have happily coerced children to join our indulgence who, not surprisingly, are more than happy to tag along!
Surely, most of us including our children, have been transformed into a generation of idiots!
What is an idiot anyway?
According to Wikipedia, the word idiot has undergone a rebirth of sorts over the years.
In the beginning, an idiot was defined as
a person with a very profound intellectual disability
Then later, it referred to
a person with a profound mental retardation
Today, an idiot is
a stupid or foolish person
From the first to the last definition, an idiot refers to a person lacking in intellectual abilities and is foolish! The abusive element therein is very clear. But again, why not? Is it not foolish to allow mechanization to run our lives this far?
Below are likely situations that have made us a generation of idiots!
1. We are anti-social
Oh, yea! So very much so. Statistics show most of us check our smartphones 80 to 300 times a day, leaving us with brief breaks of 12 to 60-minute.
Our interaction with electronic contraptions surpasses the interaction we have with fellow humans. We look at, talk to, and listen to our smartphones, tablets, smart speakers, and other Internet of Things (IoT ) gadgets for longer durations than we do fellow humans.
We tweet, share, and snap away far more than we accomplish anything productive in real life. This happens at home and in the workplace.
We feel incomplete and unworthy unless we are liked and loved through social media, and are better off talking to smartphones via voice assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa.
When we go back home, we spend the few remaining hours of the day glued to the TV, and AGAIN, smartphone screens! We hardly have time to talk to the children too. There is always a plastic atmosphere at home as our fingers are swiping away while the speakers take care of the apparent silence.
The question is, are we remorseful about this? Do we feel like we need to unplug? Even worse do we even feel like a generation of idiots?
2. The generation of ill health
The unmetered consumption of social media requires we bend over and crouch on our beds and chairs all day. Besides bingeing on social media, we shop from the comfort of our chairs and seek online dates without having to move a limb. We multitask technology with food and everything else, something which is bad for our health!
We never reflect on consequences such as tech-neck and other ill health arising from inaction. This has led to increasing cases of obesity, bad posture, muscular weaknesses, stiffening of bones, heart complications, etc.
Immobility also leads to eating disorders. We have developed a preference for fast foods and soft drinks, which are high in additives, fats, and salt.
Besides, we are a danger to ourselves when we drive and walk while chatting with and talking endlessly to our smartphones. While at it we are also endangering the lives of innocent bystanders and drivers!
Let us not forget the threat posed by electromagnetic fields arising from unmetered use of electronic devices in close proximity and for extended durations. The smartphone is known to emit constant doses of EMF radiation. This can lead to glioma and other complications arising from radiofrequency energy overdose.
3. We post irrationally
Before the internet and social media became the norm, humanity had time to digest and reflect on information before it was made public. The print media boasted of professional editors to minimize errors and eventual blushes, and everyone cared about what people read and reacted.
The reality today is different. Everyone owns online accounts and has the freedom to post, share and make mistakes on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and blogs! We have been tricked into posting and sharing information without much thought.
Coupled with the need to stay ahead of the pack, we share and facilitate leakage of rather private, offensive, and embarrassing texts and images. By the time we get back to our senses, the information is available for all to see.
The trend has also given rise to the popular fake news meme, which threatens to rip apart the trust of internet data. Even the highly placed in society have not survived the bug.
4. We love ‘bad’ robots
As much as robotics provide us with productive toys and industrial tools for mechanization, some inventions are derailing us from what is truly human.
A case in point is the sex robot. The male and female versions of these humanoids should never find their way into our bedrooms – really!
The more we embrace and integrate them into our lives, the more we are killing the very nature of human existence, and most definitely turning us into idiots!
5. We have developed a low attention span
Our readiness to attend to mental tasks that last for long durations has received a beating because we are incapable of concentrating for more than 10 minutes! We have so much information than any other age in history, but less time to learn.
Anything that takes more than a minute of our time is bad. Still, we have all the time in the world to participate in social media interactions and other tech activities that appeal to audio-visual senses.
We are therefore unable to read and write and opt instead to skim through;
- the first few paragraphs
- the excerpts
- highlighted texts and links
The short forms of text and audio-visual clips on microblogging platforms such as Twitter and Facebook appeal to our senses more. They have taught us to write and read small. The flashy images and audiovisual content are meant to quench our curiosity.
Reading through novels and scholarly works has become a chore! Little wonder the lengthy novels and scholarly materials will probably become a thing of the past a few decades from now. Perhaps writers too should evolve in order to remain relevant and appeal to our evolving senses.
In addition, we have embraced multitasking as the answer to accomplishing assignments and other obligations at work, school, and home. We engage in social media chats even as we are busy with academic research.
Now that employers are hiring work-at-home employees, the trend has gotten harder to control.
Generation Alpha kids and others are learning our habits very early on. They too will grow up into the next generation of multitasking zombies, all probably seeking virtual employment.
The way forward for our generation of idiots
If you have read this article this far, congratulations. You are probably not from this planet and the generation of idiots. This means you still love reading and probably do other things that good people do.
Your only challenge probably rotates around reflecting on the existence of this problem and making sure children use technology the right way.
The fact is, technology is here to stay and unless we get hit by a gigantic solar flare, which is capable of obliterating modernity as we know it, advancements in computing will continue. And we have to be part of this evolution. Children should be taught to co-exist and not get consumed by technology.