Denial of the fittest

There are people who think pretty much everyone is stupid. You know who I’m talking about. They complain in the grocery store about how stupid people hold up the line. They complain about how stupid people don’t know how to drive. They’re not necessarily wrong to be irritated in many instances. I don’t know that it’s so much that people are stupid as preoccupied, not present and sometimes selfish. But I’m not surprised that they often are, in a society dominated by a fascination with immediacy, self-interest and isolationist attitudes. Once we become comfortable within the boundaries of our relationships, workplaces, neighbourhoods, families, national identities, etc., we can tend to see anything outside those lines as ‘other’ and often by extension, a threat (or undesirable, at best).

It’s just interesting to me that people who are always bitching about other people don’t realize that they look like idiots. Of course, to such individuals, it doesn’t matter that they also piss other people off, nor that their tendency to be so judgmental actually makes them look pitifully insecure. People do dumb things all the time. So what? What are you gonna do about it? Probably something dumb.

I cringe when I hear someone say that people who do foolish things like extreme sports in avalanche zones or who get lost in the woods on what should be a simple, solitary hike shouldn’t have rescue teams sent after them (apparently wasting valuable public funds) because they’re stupid and don’t deserve to be saved. Because they’re jackasses, apparently they deserve to suffer – along with their family and anyone else who might depend on them or care about them. So what, right? “Survival of the fittest”, they shrug. Really? If we were so smart, we wouldn’t waste time complaining about things we can’t control. Or destroy our planet because we’re too greedy and selfish to give up our perceived entitlements, effectively dooming our offspring to live in what is essentially a ticking time bomb. This phrase, which wasn’t even coined by Darwin, is really far off the mark. The evolution of a species doesn’t require only the fittest to survive. If it did, not only would many people not exist today – our entire species wouldn’t. So we should all be happy it’s really just a misinterpretation by an economist trying to apply someone else’s biological theories to support his own prefabricated ideas.

If you’re the type of person who wishes only the fittest survived, just know that there are probably many people out there who wouldn’t add you to that list if it were up to them.

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2 Comments

Filed under Politics & Society

2 responses to “Denial of the fittest

  1. This is a very thought-provoking post.

    People do stupid things. I think it’s hard to determine how “stupid” someone is based on one random observance, however. So I agree with you there.

    I consider myself intelligent, but the other day I walked up to a restaurant with an “open” sign and pushed on the door. What the heck? It didn’t open. I stomped angrily back to my car already planning the letter I was going to send to the local forum about how that place sucked. As I was about to start my car, however, I saw someone walk up to that same door and pull it open. Oops! My bad.

    I’m sure that day I looked like one of the biggest idiots of all time. But, in general, over the long term, I think I normally perform at a slightly higher level than that. 🙂

    That said, I also agree with your point about getting lost in the woods. A couple of years back there was a story about a guy who drove with his family into the mountains and got stuck in the snow. He was a writer for a high tech web site and had followed a route shown on his GPS. A lot of people called him “stupid.” I didn’t. I viewed it as an honest mistake that could happen to any of us. (See preceding paragraph.)

    I personally find it fun to sit around and judge and call people idiots when I feel like it, but your point is well taken. Maybe I’ll try to focus more on stupid behaviors rather than trying to portray the people involved as dumb.

    In general I think the fittest do survive, but that’s such a broad concept with so many exceptions in daily life that it can only be viewed in the context of very long time frames. I don’t think it applies well to daily living.

  2. Oh, do I love to poke fun at people. I’m just the sort of person who notices ridiculous inconsistencies in movies or commercials. So much so that I have to stop myself sometimes because mainstream media is so contrived and low-brow, I could just go on and on. I often catch myself while I’m on a roll because my hippie conscience kicks in, gently reminding me not to be so judgmental and to just chill out.

    But I’ll always be mischievous – I’ve proved that to myself. I love laughing at people (specific people, the public at large, and of course myself)… which brings me to say this: like you, I consider myself to be relatively intelligent. If we thought we were total knobs with nothing of value to say, we wouldn’t do all this, right? But there are many, many times when I do completely inept things. Like noticing half-way through the day that I put my underwear on backwards and inside out (no, it was not a thong!) or inserting batteries incorrectly. Classic me. But I console myself by saying that I do actually know how to do these things properly, and I’m usually very well coordinated – I just get distracted. A great mind can’t always be expected to focus on the minutiae of daily life, right?

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