How America became so profoundly stupid over the past decade

Heck, there was even an eight-year gap in between the Declaration of Independence and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution but few people today claim the revolutionaries didn’t have new ideas to bring to the table. It just takes time to formulate radically new ideas into workable policy.


I think this is a very apt observation. The fast feedback loop and “learning to get better at pitting people against each other” at a mathematically higher rate, though, is like weaponizing this age old trick of pitting people against each other. The algorithms have refined and concentrated the process to produce pure anger and hatred (and yummy, yummy engagement) at a rate that without their help might have taken us decades or centuries. We basically machine learned anger and resentment.

The kids are fine, idiocracy was a horrible movie, and we’re not “dumber than ever.” We’re just divided.


Yeah, this is one of the “coddling of the American mind” guys.

Casey Newton made a fascinating point that the author’s notes are much better than the article he wrote. So you can get the data without the constant gloss of whining about wokery.


I think everyone here is old enough to remember that. It was like 15 years ago. :smile: But keep in mind, prior to that, all the “information wants to be free” attitudes of the 1980s and 1990s were coming from angry white men who then grew up to be 4chan, for the most part. Most early usenet groups, for example, were shitholes of infighting and trolling, and god help you if you weren’t straight, white, and male. Occasionally discussion of HAM radio or whatever would also occur, between homophobic slurs. The internet was never positioned to “democratize thought”, that’s just how a bunch of angry men who finally had a platform they felt they always deserved chose to interpret the future.


They weren’t entirely wrong on that point but the flipside is that disinformation wants to be free just as badly and boy howdy does it love to travel.


It’s just factually untrue.

The mistrust in institutions in American life, public and private, did not start with social media, it’s true. It goes way back to the 60s and the disintegration of the liberal consensus. That doesn’t mean that social media didn’t play a pivotal role in accelerating that, including helping to bring the first “social media President” to power.

Edward Bernays has entered the chat…

Nah… clearly the rest of us are a bunch of naif 20-somethings, barely out of college and diapers, not a bunch of grumpy and jaded gen Xers and late boomers… /s


Definitely. And for all the big talk about information wanting to be free in those days, funny how they sure didn’t want the women, queers or brown people around. Not that kind of information! Goodness, no.


There was never much room for anyone who wasn’t a white man from at least a middle-class background in the ideology that spawned those attitudes.

And you better believe that those same men make sure that their kids and grandkids never become reliant on social media.




Michelle Buteau Shrug GIF by Netflix Is a Joke


i would love to know when you think america was at it’s most enlightened. was it during the founding when literacy was low and most people had painfully short lives, during the heyday of the enslavement of people forced here against their will, or maybe after our civil war with whites lynching black citizens and enacting segregation?

later maybe when we unnecessarily made our entire country dependent on cars, when we interned americans with japanese ancestry and stole all their property, when we had to send in the national guard so young girls could go to school?

prohibition maybe? the depression? the trail of tears?

when was this time when “smart” led the way, and then everything turned “dumb”?


What the fuck even is the existence of this concept. “Racially-moderate” is basically code for “willing to tolerate or even perpetuate systemic racism as long as it keeps them in the power space.”


gee… never been called a late boomer before. seems i’m alwsys late for something.

Ill Take It Spider-Man GIF

on topic, tho: the US has been profoundly stupid for much longer than social media has been around, as many here have already well noted and documented.
The Dumbening* is and has been ongoing for decades.
[* thank you @Melizmatic , i picked up that term and run with it in conversations i have in the meatspace frequently.]


Right?? I mean lines like this…

In the past five years, white liberals have moved so far to the left on questions of race and racism that they are now, on these issues, to the left of even the typical black voter.

What the hell is that even implying? Even if we accept the assertion that white liberals are less racist than Black centrists on topics like immigration, how is that a bad thing?

Why shouldn’t liberals of any given race be farther to the left than “typical” voters of any other race?


Of course that was doubly true when the publishers and broadcasters controlled the “one big mirror.” Freedom of the press has always been the freedom of those that owned the presses. It wasn’t just that people only saw the stories that they wanted to see, those about people like them. When mass media was the only game in town, the stories of LGBTQ people, and of POC, and others not part of the mainstream weren’t told. Occasionally, stories about them were told, but they usually confirmed the white, cis stereotypes. And they fed into the idea that if white, cis people weren’t everybody, they were certainly the only people that MATTERED.


Prego, but I can’t take credit; I cribbed that phrase from the Simpsons ages ago.

(The ep was referencing the tendency of the Simpson men to get dumber as they age, as some sort of hereditary flaw.)


Generally meaning people born in the 60s (or late 50s)…


ruined it for everyone, that son-of-bitch.


I think that it’s kind of like how people look at old mansions and say “Houses were so much nicer back in the day.” There were plenty of crap-shacks in the past, but survivorship bias means that most of them aren’t around any more. There was a high percentage of idiots around in the old days, but they aren’t the people whose writings we have preserved and talk about in history classes.


oh, i totally got that (and fit the time), just never heard it as “late”. although it makes perfect sense.