Thursday, January 27, 2011

Paranoia Sets In


This is going to sound as though I am a bit paranoid and possible have a screw loose, but I have been noticing something of late that is really starting to bug me.

At first I wrote it off as just bad timing, or karma, or just too many idiots in too small a space. However, after weeks, months and years of this, I am starting to think that there is something else going on.

It might just be where I live, or it could be that I have a different expectation set than most others I come in contact with.........or, there could be something sinister at work here.

I have often spoken to my wife about this at the end of a long day, and it has almost gotten to be routine. “What stupid things did you have to deal with today honey?”, is usually how we begin our evening as we veg and unwind at 7pm. We aren’t just bitching about our jobs, we actually discuss all the things that went wrong in the past 12 hours and document them, to compare notes. It has become obvious that our notes tend to match up pretty closely. She works in the private sector, I work in the public sector.

What I am referring to here, is the general lack of competency in almost every aspect of American culture, especially here in the southwest. And when I say competency, I am talking about the basic human ability to do the simplest acts.

A day does not go by in my world, when I am driving on a street or walking on a sidewalk and the following things don't happen, usually more than once a day;

Someone driving their car will come to a complete stop in the middle of the street (nowhere near an intersection) to look at a map, or book, or just stare at the floor mates, totally oblivious to the traffic piling up behind them.

People walking on the sidewalk randomly wander out into traffic without bothering to look to see if anyone is coming, often times causing drivers to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting them.

People come up to me weekly asking for directions, such as “Is this the Human Resource Building?”.....while the name of the building is obvious above the door in huge letters. (I have learned that this is because there is an extremely high illiteracy rate in this state, most people on the street can’t read.)

These are just examples on the street. In our professional lives, it has become obvious between my wife and I, that American society has totally lost the ability to ‘problem solve’. Instead, our co-workers are constantly seeking aid from their office-mates that they perceive can solve their work / personal problem. I touched on this topic in my recent web log called “Fear Of Failure”. No one wants to assume the risk of failure anymore.

I can continue to expand on these topics all the way to the top of the heap. People like Bernie Maddoff, and the boys at Enron and General Motors. Educated people that knew they were playing inside a house of cards, but did nothing to correct the problems and instead just continued to try and grab the brass ring until they fell off the Merry-Go-Round.

My question is this. Are we just getting more stupid due to a decline in our civilization, or is there something else at work here? Is there something in the water? Could terrorist or foreign governments be seeding the clouds to make us all stupid after it rains? Is all that genetically engineered corn and hormone fed beef messing with our brains?

The frequency of all the stuff that is going on around me has made me wonder. I am waiting for the day when my supervisor comes to me with a staple through his finger and asks me to pull it out for him, all the while stating, “I don’t have any idea how this happened.”


  1. The literacy rate is an interesting observation. I love "What stupid things did you have to deal with today honey?" as a conversation starter! I think at my house we usually start with something like, "Did anything funny (or sometimes "interesting") happen to you today?"

  2. "People walking on the sidewalk randomly wander out into traffic without bothering to look..."

    - I absolutely hate that! I have slammed on my brakes so many times that I just want to scream now at these careless individuals and most of them are either talking on the their phone or looking at the Blackberry.

    Good post.

  3. My husband and I are sensitive to this kind of stupidity too, and it goes hand in hand with rudeness and a sense of entitlement. Why not halt the car in the middle of the road? Who cares if others are put out by it? Why bother reading anything or accomplishing anything when there are all of these other people who can do it instead? I've noticed that stupid people are more insensitive and discourteous, and it's a common topic of conversation in my home too.

  4. Malka....I hear the rumblings of a new political movement. The "No Stupidity Party".

  5. Hi Bruce,

    I come to this remarcable post a bit late but it is worthwhile. You have certainly a special way at looking around you.

    Is this really typical American or even Californian? Unfortunately the comments don't shed any light on this.

    Could be, too, that the present economic downturn made you supersensitive.

    I'll never get the answer, so let me just tell you: go on with your observations of life.