The digital age has brought about a new generation of people: the experts. Thanks to the instant availability of information, people are now able to become professed aficionados of any subject they wish. The doctorate in economics is replaced by the dawdler on Wikipedia. Why watch the news when you have everything you need in your Facebook feed, complete with catchphrases superimposed on pictures of cats.
When the Supreme Court ruled on DOMA, Facebook pictures across the country changed to show their sudden solidarity with the gay community. These Constitutional scholars immediately possessed a love for the Judicial Branch and became champions of their decision. Most of them couldn’t cite the rationale behind the majority decision, but who’s counting the details?
Most recently, the general public fast-tracked their law degrees and became experts on justifiable homicide statues in Florida. George Zimmerman was found guilty, or acquitted, by a populous with a J.D. from the online university known as YouTube. As the actual verdict was read, the voices of the six jurors were drowned out by the 60 million cries of outrage or affirmation.
In North Carolina, for the past six months, Democrats have been kicking and screaming as Republicans took control of the General Assembly and Governorship for the first time in a century and a half. Suddenly, the party that had complete control for six generations is outraged at another party using the same tactics their great-great-great-grandfather used. For the first time in their life, they are quoting constitutionality as if it has been their life’s mission, they just forgot to do something about it until six months ago.
Oddly enough, gerrymandering districts for your benefit is just a evil as the other party redistricting for their own purposes. Forced annexation and zoning are just as egregious property rights violations as forced property removal for fracking. Fighting against freedom of choice in education is hypocritical when your platform runs on women’s choice. Forcing healthcare juxtaposed with a “it’s my body” poster is just, as Alanis Morisette would say, a little too ironic.
The 21st Century has turned the entire population into the most knowledgable ignoramuses the world has ever seen. You see, life isn’t about consuming as much raw data as possible, it is about being able to compute that data. Somehow that has gotten lost in 140-character digital popularity contests. Newsflash, you don’t understand what you’re regurgitating.
It’s not your fault though. You’re simply the product of our public education system that simply needs more money, so you say. As long as you can select the correct multiple choice answer, you receive a lollypop, and you’re on your way. It doesn’t matter that you cannot possibly begin to comprehend your own Facebook status, but you shared a clever quote that was attributed to Ronald Reagan, which he never said. You’re on a religious crusade armed not with a sword and courage, but with high-speed internet and the belief that your unfounded opinion is God’s truth as conveyed through your keyboard.
In most aspects of life, people seek true professionals. When your car is making a funny noise, you seek a mechanic. When you’re seeking a new home, you call a real estate agent. When you’re planning for retirement, you find a trusted financial planner.
Why is it then that no one seeks the opinion of someone whose life has been devoted to such topics of mass importance? When was the last time you wrote a Tweet based on a vetted text? When was the last time you checked a source before sharing Ben Franklin’s favorite movie?
From politician to plumber, everyone is guilty of this atrocity. Every politician runs as an expert on everything. President Obama gave his opinion regarding the Trayvon Martin case. Those jurors were belittled by a man who clearly knows better than them. Local politicians make decisions shrouded in secrecy, but have no fear, they know best. Well, no they don’t have economics degrees, but they stayed at a Holiday Inn last night, on your dime. From City Councilman to President, they are all experts on everything.
The truth is, it’s a sadness that has befallen not just a single generation, but those old and young. A wretched plague that historians will surely look back upon as another Dark Ages. An entire population, with the largest accessibility to raw information than ever before, squandering it all on high-speed hubris.