Stupidity Is Funny, but It’s No Joke

Erin Jackson is a stand-up comedian. She is on Twitter.
Updated February 27, 2012, 11:36 AM

Are people getting dumber? Without a doubt.

Does it bother me? Yes and no.

I am a professional stand-up comedian, so dumb people are good for business. Without dumb people doing and saying dumb things, I wouldn’t have anything to blog, or tweet, or riff about on stage. No joke about the CVS cashier who couldn’t figure out how to give me 15 cents in change because “we ain’t got no dimes,” or the acquaintance who can’t double a cookie recipe without using an iPhone app.

Somewhere in between all the LOL’s and J/K’s, we’ve lost our sense of humor.

But in the part of my life that exists outside comedy clubs and social-networking sites (all 30 minutes of it), I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the dumbing down of society and our too-easy acceptance of it.

Even the institutions whose job it is to help us become smarter are dumbing it down. Case in point: the “earn your college degree in your pajamas” commercials I’m forced to sit through during nearly every television show. Remember when online education first became popular? The sales pitch was all about making college accessible, helping people fit it into their busy schedules. But over the years it’s somehow been boiled down to “Hey, you wanna get a master’s degree without leaving your master bedroom?” Look, I’m all for people earning their degrees in whichever way is most convenient and affordable for them, but if your school’s target student population includes people for whom getting dressed was previously a deal breaker, you may want to rethink your mission.

Our dependence upon technology has played a huge part in our “endumbening.” We don’t memorize phone numbers anymore. We’ve forgotten how to use maps and compute basic math problems. But beyond that, I believe it’s also resulted in a collective inability to discern nuance, interpret social cues, take a joke. Somewhere in between all the LOL’s and J/K’s, we’ve lost our sense of humor.

And that is undoubtedly bad for my business.

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