We are Dumbed Down by Overstraining

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One has only to take a look at the practices of the ancient Roman empire to understand that bread and games are a reliable recipe to prevent people from using their heads. If usable education is then made dependent on financial possibilities (and thus, de facto, on origin), one has the perfect lower class, caught in its state without recognizing it.

The recipe has since then been applied continuosly by the ruling class, and surpassed even the fall of the aristocracy (strangely) undamaged; whether it be from inertia, or – an ugly thought – because even the democratically elected governments of our days do not want citizens who are too politically mature … the offer of distractions is greater and more multifaceted than ever – and not least because we so gladly accept its pleasing expressions while putting up with its annoying sides so unquestioningly.

Sensational News

In newspapers, news and in the new media, innumerable messages are transmitted with equal relevance. The prize ceremonies of pop culture awards make the title page, while coups and civil wars in distant countries are marginal notes at best – as if there was no connection whatsoever between us and different tribes and peoples trying to exterminate each other with weapons received from us, arguing over land on which they grow fruit, cattle feed or drugs for us – while their own population is starving.

In addition to all the gossip, the sensational and entertainment messages, the morbid voyeuristic reports on family tragedies and product placements, nothing relevant remains in our consciousness anyway, incidentalities consume all our capacity.

Advertising

Our minds are clogged with endless advertising messages, which we can neither avoid nor ignore. Wherever we look, there are posters, screens, advertising banners, printed vehicles and even other people’s clothes. In many places we are also forced to endure the radio’s endless noise pollution, a constant violation of our senses.

General uneducation

Schools teach us to refrain from asking annoying questions and to memorize facts instead of judging information, thinking independently and retaining the joy of learning.

In addition, children (as a preparation for life) are constantly put under pressure. On the one hand, gifted youngsters are not encouraged and will eventually resign from boredom while, on the other hand, any needs for remedial education in children with learning disabilities, private difficulties or simple rebellion against individual subjects (which teaching is usually to blame for) are not dealt with adequately either. The most obvious and sensible method – modular learning – seems to be far off. Everybody loses.

Development freeze

There is no support for people over 35 who want to go to university. At a time when (if we keep the current direction) we are presumably still 50 years away from retirement when we make our first training decision – and while unskilled workers are no longer needed, this is madness …

Overstraining

An excess of choices is stressful for us. Do we really need 20 different tastes and brands of yoghurt on the shelf? Our brain is overwhelmed with countless, largely irrelevant decisions.

We are constantly reachable and always have a half eye on our mobile phone. Most of us no longer even know how to really focus on a topic.

Games such as Candycrush Saga or Farmville (which have meanwhile probably been overtaken several times over by other titles with the same principle), which stimulate the brain’s rewards center and ultimately lead to addiction, do the rest.

Triviality

In this country, we pay for a television program that officially has an educational assignment to fulfill, and yet the program we have been offered has been becoming increasingly shallow for years. Reality TV has triumphantly progressed all over the world. No wonder we had to invent the word “fremdschämen” – feeling embarrassed for somebody else’s actions.

Even and especially in politics, incidentalities are inflated, while essential subjects are being neglected. A genuinely deep principle debate does not take place, although it has been overdue by years.

Avalanche of errands

We always have twenty things on our to-do list. Everything has become faster and easier – with the result that we are expected to do four times as much in the same time.

Emails and replies, cultivating friendships via social platforms, shopping online, applying for an online citizen transaction account, changing electricity providers, changing an internet tarif, doing money transfers, research … there is just no end to it. And still those things which simply have to be settled in the real world are still waiting to be done too.

Junk in our brains

We have stored too much trivial knowledge. The names of a huge crowd of actors and other celebrities, thousands of brand names, including the appearance of product packaging, the plot of countless films and series. Having said that, the latter at least still holds the pleasure of providing us with stories that we can re-experience in our minds.

Junk in our lives

We hoard far too many items that we do not really need. Their maintenance, their need for space, and the shackles which they place upon us through the fear of loss make us poorer than we would be if we did not possess them. No wonder that radical clearing out feels so liberating – we have to free ourselves from our collecting mania and learn to concentrate on the essential, in every respect.

The system is established and well-oiled to cater to the status quo; politics inherited immature citizens from the aristocracy a few generations ago, and thus know how to manage immature citizens.

The experiment to release into the world more independent, creative people with a higher basic education from the schools, to allow adults to access serious education at any time, and to regulate the sophistication of the media massively upwards, nobody dares to try – although all the signs unequivocally indicate that only informed, independent and educated persons will find employment in the future.

However, such a paradigm shift would surely entail huge changes – and here, on the Island of the Blessed, we are even more allergic to that than people elsewhere.

Credits

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Bildempfangsstörung_Analogue_TV Bildempfangsstörung_Analogue_TV Paulae CC BY 3.0