It’s never too late to stop being a moron. Actually that’s not true; once you’re dead, you’re dead. Death by stupidity is a comeback even our latter day American saint, Rocky Balboa, couldn’t come back from (and Rocky wasn’t exactly the sharpest pencil in the drawer).

But stupidity is as much about environment as it is about genetics. More specifically, an environment that disseminates and promotes misinformation is one most likely to produce less than stellar thinking amongst its participants.

In a conversation I had with a friend the other night, she   expressed, quite pointedly, that she often meets a lot of people “with garbage in their minds”. After laughing at the picture this revelation brought to my imagination, I came to agree with her very quickly. People do walk around with garbage in their minds, but more important than this fact alone, is what it means for the efficiency of one’s mind.

Sherlock Holmes once said that a man’s mind is like an attic. If you fill your attic with useless junk, you won’t able to place your hands on the chair you wish to find, when you wish to find it. There’s a lot of truth to this idea, in that, should a person fill their mind with junk, they may not be able to recall that which is most important at the crucial time of its need.

So what? Well, perhaps it’s time to do some spring cleaning in your mind’s attic, because stupidity can be a lethal killer. If heart disease kills 1 in 4 people in America, you can bet that stupidity kills at least 2 in 4 (being that at least some heart related deaths also incorporate stupid life choices like YOLO). Therefore, wising up sooner is most certainly better than later, because, eventually, one of following things will happen:


A.) You die 


B.) The entire world explodes 


or 


C.) Please refer to either (A) or (B)  

One of the ways stupidity is diffused throughout our environment is through pop culture wisdom: those phrases that everyone knows, but only the most annoying people you’ve ever met manage to offer up in the very worst of times. They mean well, but they’re thick headed, fail to take social cues, and ultimately don’t really understand what they’re saying all that well. While it may be the case that pop culture wisdom can aid us in gaining insight into the mysteries of life, in other cases, it’s just plain nonsense. And nonsense is fine—until it’s not, and someone jumps off a moving car and snaps their neck because: YOLO.

 

1.) “YOLO” (You Only Live Once)

Let me just get this out of the way: Die you idiot morons. Okay then, now we can move on.

I had a thought the other day that made me laugh for several minutes until my vision was practically covered by a blurry curtain of tears. In my mind, I had imagined that the phrase YOLO was a device created by the most intelligent people in our society, as a means to “weed out” stupid people. It’s actually a genius idea. Genocide and mass murder are generally frowned upon these days—Hitler, Mao, and the Crusades pretty much screwed that up for everyone. So, then, how is it that the elite class can go about ridding their kingdoms of weaker minded citizens? Simple: create a socially trendy phrase which encourages people to WILLINGLY off themselves through outrageous acts of risk. And thus my friends, YOLO was born.

Now, to be sure, our culture as certainly entertained mantras like this before, however, the connotation has changed dramatically. “Carpe Diem”, or “Seize the Day”, is generally associated with positive actions of industriousness and the utilization of opportunity for advancement. This kind of connotation encourages people to excel in their education and careers, while also denouncing laziness.

YOLO, on the other hand, carries a more extreme connotation that grants permission for its pledgers to engage in risky behavior that commonly has little to do with contributing to society. It’s a selfish mantra which encourages members to not only throw caution to the wind, but also bury common sense and snuff out guilt in the process. The interesting thing though, is that the phrase is not used as a genuine motivator, as motivators tend to help decisions get made. YOLO is a phrase that is often evoked AFTER its participants have already decided to to something unnecessarily risky. In this case, YOLO becomes an excuse to be a moron. And lastly, let’s not forget the presumption it carries—no one on this Earth has any idea if we only live once (in fact, there’s more evidence to the contrary).


YOLO: its all fun and games until teen pregnancy and gambling addictions.  

2.) “It’s always in the last place you look”

Okay, so you’re home late one evening while your girlfriend attends her girls’ night out. You’ve worked overtime every day this week, and your woman’s been on the Red Boat since Monday (if you don’t know what the Red Boat is, it’s probably past your bedtime). So, naturally, you wanna get in a little “you” time–and by “you” time I mean that your pants and underwear have accidentally fallen down past your waist while a hot sexual scene is being played out on your 50-inch flat screen home theatre system. But you’re a polite dude, so you turn the sub woofer off and keep the volume down so the neighbors don’t wonder what’s wrong with their marriages. Suddenly, before your daydream reaches its climactic end, you realize that the remote has gone missing.

The clock is ticking; your girlfriend will be home within the next 20 minutes and if you don’t get this orgasm in, you just might end up making the morning papers with a hobby more devastating than masturbation: homicide. So, you dive into the couch cushions. No dice. Check under to couch. Nothing. Hurry up, you’re losing wood. You turn into the Tasmanian devil, and before you know it, you’ve checked everywhere except the toolbox in your garage (but not because you hadn’t considered it a possible location; it’s just too far for you to walk). And just when you’re about to give up and cry, you see the remote hiding on the 3rd tier of your bookshelf and this phrase pops into your head, “It’s always the last place you look”.

Personally, I don’t see the revelation here. There’s no white light of understanding shining in my eyes on this one. Even if you found what you were looking for in the 2nd place you looked, it would still be the last place you looked. The phrase is actually meant to convey a sense of lamenting for how LONG one has looked for a particular item, wishing that they had found it sooner. But the language itself doesn’t express this at all. The language is pretty clear, and to that I say: of course things are found in the last place you look; no one continues to look for something after they’ve found it. No one has time for that—our sexual sanity depends on it.

 

3.) “Write to your Congressman”

If you’re wondering how you can become an active voice in government, and thus, fulfill your civic duty, allow me to put your mind at ease with this very simple sentence: your congressman doesn’t give a sh*t about your letter. More to the point, he’s likelier to use it to wipe his behind after he’s done taking one.

When your overzealous 6th grade history teacher told the class pet that she should write her congressman, you had a inkling that he was just trying to shut her up, but still, it seemed to be sound advice in its own right. This phrase has always been a powerful means of perpetuating the illusion of direct citizen participation with the state. It’s taken most citizens years to realize that congressmen don’t care about our letters, and that “we the people” has become “we the corporations”. People don’t exist in the way they used to anymore. We’re the zeros and ones of a logarithmic coding gone forgotten in the flashing blitz of graphical internet spam. Congressmen don’t care about the concerns of citizens, until such concerns are concentrated through viable mediums of mass media and corporate dollars that serve the politician himself. In 2012, congressional campaign dollars amounted to the tune of $4 billion. We’d like to believe that the letters of concerned middle schoolers and their voting counter parts are highly valued by our government officials, but the fact is, Washington doesn’t value THAT kind of paper anymore.

4.) “Cheaters Never Prosper”

As much as it saddens me to admit this, this phrase is absolute bullsh*t. Now, that doesn’t mean to say that everyone should adopt cheating as a serious philosophy, nor does it mean to say that all cheaters prosper—but, the fact is, cheaters do prosper. For me, the phrase immediately fails the reality test when it uses the word “never”. The trick though, too, is to really understand the meaning of cheater, as it’s certainly not limited to that fat chick leaning over your shoulder in Math class (man I hated her).

Being a cheater means that you have an unfair advantage over competitors. This happens all the time, and in the most subtle ways. I once knew a really hot chick in my Abnormal Psychology class that bombed every test and quiz there ever was, but because she had coffee with the Professor and flirted with him, she passed with a B. Another guy I knew lied on his resume, claiming to have completed a media internship with a small and relatively unknown organization. It never happened. What was the result? Dude got a sweet job at $20/hr working for the NBA.

Similarly, nearly ever person who is reading this post right now, has gained employment in their lifetime through connections with family and friends. So, having an advantage over the competition never hurt anyone, but that doesn’t mean to say that all cheaters prosper forever (especially if they deliberately hurt others for their own gain). Eventually, even those that go on to do well may one day meet their demise, but until then: WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

 

5.) “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all”

This is a tough one actually, as it relies on one’s subjective perception. But the negative association made with this phrase is in the details of how it’s understood. Commonly, the “not so nice” things being said are understood as a deliberate attack on someone in order to hurt their feelings. Let it be said that people should never say cruel things for the sake of merely degrading others. Serving one’s ego in this way should absolutely be deterred.

However, there is value in saying not so nice things. When it happens that group thinking takes over and certain ideas become idealized, a difference in opinion can often be seen as “harsh” or “mean” simply because they are different. Constructive criticism can sometimes be confused with putdowns and personal attacks, when in actuality, they can help to facilitate real progress and innovative thinking. The point is that, sometimes things do need to be said, even if they aren’t exactly agreeable to everyone’s pallet.


Also published on Medium.