You know, when I tapped out my quick observational post yesterday about misspellings and malapropisms, I really didn’t expect much to come of it.
It just didn’t seem like anything more than therapeutic whining into the web on my part. And it’s not like I’ve ever expected AtLeastIHaveAFrigginGlass to have a viral moment. My readers read me for what I assume is either entertainment or cautionary tale on their part.
Plus, I’m not a millennial. In my day, having a viral moment could have killed me. Still might, thanks to anti-vaxxers.
True to the norm of my form, I got a few likes, some comments here on WordPress and a few of the same over on my blog’s lil Facebook page. I guess it was the range of the comments that struck me; topical and emotional range.
I mean, this was just a couple careless and unguarded moments of intelligence fail.
But then I also got texts.
Friends telling me they know they need to proof their texts now before sending them – one called out specifically before sending them to me – or reminding me that I know that they know that they don’t proofread their texts. Hell, my best friend and I have that conversation in some way, shape or form weekly – it’s not like it’s a deal breaker for our friendship, it’s more a source of amusement.
FYI, for his part, the Silver Fox tried to guess who the “ethnically” challenged person was.
But I felt like some comments were a reminder of where I was way back when my friends first started calling me out for my grumpiness. I hashtagged my post with #StupidAmericans because that’s the theme it fit. I remember how…angry I used to get about the embarrassingly stupid things I would observe people doing in their daily lives. Maybe not so much angry as just so surprised that I had a physical as well as emotional reaction to the situation.
It would almost always fade to a sad, shocked amusement at the state of intellect in America. Now I think my observational reaction is more resigned.
Yup. Still dumb.
Without investing too much effort into quantifying whether our trajectory is toward more or less dumb or maybe even holding a steady level of stupid.
C’mon, though…more stupid is clearly the correct assumption here.
Take it from Antoine.
I think – other than defensiveness, and you know who you are! – that the responses that were loudest involved overcompensated people in the workplace. Hell, there was enough material about workplace nincompoops to take the qualifier out of that and just call them People Who Are Shockingly Holding Down A Job.
What do we expect, though?
I saw a text this morning that was something to the effect of:
People today will never know the terror of printing out directions from MapQuest and then making a wrong turn, “Too bad, now you’re lost forever!”
It’s true, too. When we miss a turn in our Nav apps, it reroutes us without even telling us we missed it.
I joke with The Fox often that I don’t need a brain, I have a phone.
Occasionally, I’m surprised to find myself in a situation where I’m discussing something with a group of friends and realize that we are collectively trying to reason something out or recall a fact. More surprising than collaborating on the answer is that none of us reaches for our phones to get the answer.
I actually enjoy those moments. There aren’t enough of them – they also give me hope.
Aside from technology dumbing us down, there’s the foundational effect of our country’s family erosion.
Kids aren’t raised by a parent anymore, well…not actively raised. Let alone raised by a co-habitating (I know, not a word!) set of parents. I think most parents get through the day with a silent prayer that their kid remained self-guided for the duration of their workday. When they interact, it’s more as friends or equals – a parenting flaw of convenience for the parent.
I mention that because I used to watch my sister and brother-in-law parent their son and talk to him like an adult to elevate his thought process and social skills. Now, I think parents talk to their kids like friends or peers in order to be the cool mom or reach backward for relevance so their kids can help keep them remain cool.
I remember seeing an Albert Finney movie once, just a story about growing up. One of his daughters is talking to him about their relationship and he says something like, “I never really thought of you kids as children”.
She asks what he considered them and he replied matter of factly, “Pets”.
I was amused by that situation, but never thought of a future where that would be the high water mark for quality parenting.
At least the master/pet relationship has a hierarchy. Sure, in my own, Myrtle is the Alpha…but there’s still rules and consequences. And when she does something wrong, she knows it was wrong. It’s written all over her smug little cat mug.
School is government funded daycare.
Teachers don’t teach anymore. They are still way under compensated for what they endure, managing to somehow come out of the worst professional situations still sane after playing relationship counselor between parents and kids at best and defense against a united parent/child front at worst.
United in denial, by the way.
Because more often than not in school, we aren’t learning English and grammar or math and science…and most certainly not cursive.
We’re learning how to get away with things and what to do when we fail to get away with something.
That what to do part? Form an alliance with our parent – by manipulating them – against the teacher. Getting busted is as much an indictment of ones parent as it is an inconvenience to the student. It seems parents respond emotionally to that inconvenience with anger toward the teacher for interrupting their day versus disappointment in their offspring.
How can that system manufacture humans who are prepared to face the world armed with a baseline knowledge of the proper use of there/their/they’re let alone be productive members of a world culture.
Have you ever asked yourself whether the apps we use make life better or easier?
I think there is an absolute difference.
Take mating apps disguised as dating apps – because they are such an easy target, sure – as a perfect example. Getting sex has become easier, because it’s now a la carte.
Some people go into the app looking for sex exclusively.
Shooting fish in the proverbial barrel.
Others go into the app with hope and then abandon hope and take sex as their consolation prize when dates don’t materialize. Let’s not kid ourselves, though…they don’t abandon hope so much as they do their values. Every time they give it up for a stranger, you know in the back of their heart is a timid voice singing Maybe This Time.
Newsflash: Probably not. Maybe next time, though…
Sometimes I have to remind myself what my goal was when I wrote my first book – No One Of Consequence.
I mean…empowering a reader. It was important to me for a couple of reasons.
First: Gays used to be fabulous. Now, we’re frivolous. A friend posted this on my Facebook timeline this morning.
I love this friend. She’s funny and bold and generous and caring and she’s a survivor.
In this case, she was also wrong. But thirty or even twenty years ago, she would have been right.
But then AIDS decimated gay culture. What we managed to cobble together to replace it wasn’t better, it just wasn’t nothing. Speaking of trajectories…it wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it still wasn’t actually good.
So, yeah, my book took on the challenge of showing gays reaching back to elevate newer generations of gay men and help make them into citizens we can be proud of. It’s an example of what we should do for one another as people – not just as a gay subculture.
Second, I spent a lot of time being angry about Stupid Americans. We became so insular. Not just as a country, but as individuals.
Our protective bubbles became insecurity condoms: skin tight and hopefully impervious to anything that might harm us – but hopefully still allowing us to feel good in the <ahem> end.
When I gave up – as I was just on the verge of accepting my relegation to a post relevance existence – something actually happened. This story became a higher purpose in and of itself. I could use this story as a platform to show examples of how to be an individual without that individuality coming at a cost to another or to society as a whole.
After yesterday, realizing the true arc of my grumpiness, from frustrated, powerless observer to an observer who funneled that negative emotion into something…I’m left feeling grateful.
That I could contribute something to this and future generations and loosely call it art.
That a few people actually read what I have created.
Shameless plug: I’m still accepting new readers, generous reviews and shares across social media to expand upon that reach!
And that I may have channeled my frustration into what I hope is also a change in my own behaviors so that I can be a better passive example to others.
Maybe someday we’ll be at a level where I could respond to my text message from yesterday with a message like
I think the words you were looking for were “there’s” and “ethically”.
…without ending up blocked or the recipient’s default being to take that statement as offensive.
As I learned yesterday, though, those friggin’ emotional condoms that we never seem to take off work. When I left the guy yesterday, I got the distinct impression I’d never see him again. So now I’ve got to figure out whether the Universe has simply given me what I wanted all along – to not be dating a 20-year old – or if I’m supposed to continue to gently urge the guy toward an emotionally bareback* existence that he understands is safe and nurturing and not hostile.
*Just in case it needed clarification, “bareback” is a slang term for sex without a condom.