The Life of the Mindless

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In the before-time, we would go to social gatherings. Given the construct of our lives, these would invariably be get-togethers with other parents of the same crazy-expensive private school our children attended, and as such, the other adults there would tend to be very smart, or very rich, and usually both. We were the economic diversity.

For most people, including myself, these were not opportunities to bolster one’s self-esteem. On the contrary, most of the people there were anywhere from ten to a hundred times wealthier than me, and they would be more intelligent, more successful, and more accomplished.

To be honest, I found satisfaction in that. I don’t want to be the smartest guy in the room. On the contrary, I’d rather be almost the dumbest (but not the absolute bottom, if you don’t mind). It reassures me there’s plenty more room for growth. I’d rather be surrounded by my betters.

This is in sharp contrast to something I rarely do, which is wander over to Facebook. It truly baffles me that this a nearly trillion dollar (market cap) company. I’ve been online since 1981, and even so, I spend MAYBE 5 minutes a week on Facebook. In my opinion, the only enjoyable thing on the site is the Facebook Memories, which randomly reveals to you pictures you posted, say, ten years ago. I could get the same experience just examining my laptop’s hard drive.

Yet even in the brief tidbits of time I spend there, I swiftly feel like the entire planet is populated by simple-minded morons, and I am in fact the genius that some well-meaning but misguided Slopers have occasionally deemed me to be. This is not a good feeling. I know I’m not that smart, and I hate suddenly feeling surrounded by stupidity.

There are three flavors of stupid I’ve noticed lately.

The first is the Three Minute Video. I guess at some point it became common knowledge that three minutes was just the right amount of time for a pointless video, so everyone adopted it. The parody below (which is well short of three minutes, because it doesn’t need that much time to make the point) beautifully captures what approximately 100% of these videos are like.

The second flavor of stupid, which I’ve only noticed recently, is the Insanely Long and Pointless Video, which runs about 20 to 30 minutes. I’m sure that amongst the cognoscenti there is a better name for this, but all I know is that these videos feature some utterly inane stunt that would be sufficiently addressed in 15 to 20 seconds, but instead a few friends, who fancy themselves to have acting or dramatic skills, drag out whatever it is they are doing to collectively waste humanity’s precious time.

I don’t have one of these to show, nor would I bother to do so if I did, but to give you an idea, there was one last night I “watched” (having scrubbed through the video with the timeline bar) which merely showed a women getting into a big water-filled balloon next to a pool and then having a friend pop the balloon with scissors. That’s it. That was the entirety video.

But they padded this goddamned thing out to half an hour, and what’s maddening to a semi-rational person like myself is that whatever it is they are trying to execute, they are doing so with the most intense sense of purpose. In the aforementioned video, the bikini-clad woman wriggling herself into this giant balloon is furtively shaking a can of Pam cooking spray (as if such a thing needed shaking) and spraying herself so that she can writhe into the balloon easier. Her friends helping her are treating this entire exercise with the same seriousness, egging her on, giving her suggestions, and doing the best they can to keep the balloon filled with water.

And, irrespective of what pointless exercise is being executed, a large portion of any such video is some derivation or another of “OK, here we go. Yeah? OK, yeah, we’re ready. OK, let’s do this.” And this goes on for half an hour until whatever appropriate money shot is provided (in this instance, as stated, the popping of the balloon) which is invariably a profoundly anti-climatic experience. Then you wonder why you just wasted another chunk of your time on Earth.

And then there’s number three. As a father myself, I’d title this Who Raised You?, but let’s go instead with the name of the meme, which is And Why Aren’t You In Uniform? The premise is simple: an attractive and shapely young woman is shown walking a few steps, and a voice off screen asks that question; she leaves the screen and comes back wearing something which can only be described as shamelessly slutty. I’m sure you’re eager to see, so here’s a sample:

Even if you’re pathetic enough to like staring at 20 year old girls who are scantily clad, this whole thing gets really, really old in about 40 seconds or so. And yet there are mountains of these things, and YouTube in particular features these very, very prominently on its site.

So, girls……….do your parents care that you’re showing yourself in public like this? How about a future employer? Or future colleagues? Does our society utterly lack the idea of reputation or, as they might say in Asia, “face”? The whole thing seems awfully short-sighted to me.

I’m afraid the country is almost entirely as dumb as a rock. When I haphazardly take a look underneath the surface, as I do when I log into Facebook briefly, this fact is made abundantly clear.

I’ll show you the life of the mind! Look upon me!