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And ignorant became cool…

06 Jan

Today’s observation isn’t amazingly deep, I’m afraid. Nor is it packed with interesting facts or filled with pictures (although I’m working on a post with lots of pictures soon, as soon as I get them all loaded onto the computer!).  Today’s post is regarding a personal pet peeve, and what might be the exact moment that being ignorant became cool.

To be fair, there has never been a time recorded in history when there were not people who felt that ignoring facts, figures, or details was a perfectly reasonable way to live. And every time and place that holds a population of relative safety, the numbers of ignorant or selectively ignorant people rise. It’s totally logical. In something like a small frontier town in the old west, or a military base somewhere in nowhere, or a tiny village perched between harsh seas and unforgiving mountains, people kind of have to be aware, and very well-trained in the details of not only their work, but many other bits and pieces merely to survive. When one of these small populations becomes a bit larger, people can afford the time and energy to learn for the sake of learning, and many do. (And to be fair, many don’t.) Once it gets much larger, there is considerably more safety margin for people to focus on details, and more safety margin for people who really don’t want to focus at all. Just because they aren’t likely to be eaten by a bear if they don’t do everything exactly right, though, doesn’t mean I really like it. My opinion is more along the lines of someone who has that much going for them already ought to be able to reach amazing heights!

So that’s my pet peeve (well, one of them – I like pets 😉 )  I don’t mind, really, if your level of expertise and mine don’t live in the same neighbourhood. I can have a great conversation with someone who’s interested in the same things I am; and I can have a great conversation with someone who has totally different interests. I get really frustrated by people who don’t know any of it, who forgot the basics they learned in elementary school, and who kind of even take pride in this!

On New Year’s Day I was at the grocery store, and I believe I accidentally stumbled across one of the major transition pieces between a culture that had lived through two world wars and the great depression and had a strong belief in the importance of knowing their whats from their whats, and getting it right; and a population that really figured it was safe, secure, and time to stop worrying.

This bit of information wasn’t on one of the shelves – not even in the books. It wasn’t a conversation – it was late and cold and I just wanted to get my groceries and go home, not converse. The few other people in the store seemed to feel the same way. I did stop to check out the few items left on the really good after-Christmas sale. I got a bit too much candy and a new travel cup. This revelation wasn’t there, either. What I noticed was a song.

The store radio, in a fit of post-holiday-‘we don’t know what to play’ was going with classic rock. (Another pet peeve – the rules for Christmas, set up in the Middle Ages, very clearly denote Dec 24th as Christmas Eve, the 25th as Christmas Day and the 1st day of Christmas, and the succeeding 12 days leading right to January 5th as the 12th day, Twelfth Night, formerly the biggest celebration. With January 6th as Epiphany – the day set aside for the Wise Men.) For practical reasons, I suppose starting to clear up decorations and songs on the day after New Years works, but they really should  still have had Christmas music – or Epiphany carols -Yes there are too!  ‘We Three Kings’, anyone?

But in any case, they didn’t. They had a mix of ‘classic rock’ ranging all over – it seemed to contain anything from the 50’s to through the 70’s, and might have had an even broader scope – I wasn’t there THAT long!

One of the songs was ‘What a Wonderful World‘. The one that goes on with the guy who doesn’t know much about history. Or biology. Or science or French or algebra or what the heck he needs a slide-rule for. And so forth, all crooned endearingly to his supposed sweetheart. He knows ‘one plus one is two’, he knows he loves her – stay tuned for a post at some point about love. Teaser: love is an action, not an emotion – and if they both love each other it’ll be a wonderful world.

I’ve never particularly liked that song. part of it is that I go for much harder rock, if I’m going to listen to rock. Part is that almost none the couplets in the verses actually rhyme.  ‘Science book’ and ‘French I took’ are the only rhyme outside the chorus. Other than that; ‘Algebra’ and ‘rule is for’ are maybe the closest, as an assonance? ‘Biology’ and ‘history’ are hopeless. Maybe mystery & history?

So there, as I see it, is the critical moment. A song recorded in 1959 and released in 1960 hit big enough to still be playing , with lyrics, in 2016.  It’s about the world being wonderful if she loves him – and no science, math, or foreign language required. April 14, 1960 is the day at which it was announced musically that remembering all that tedious stuff just wasn’t important.

Fast forward to me buying groceries on January 1, 2016, and many, many people I know complaining (before and after that particular grocery-moment) about the demise of people who can punctuate. Plenty of people chiming in on pet-peeve lists about the difference between sail and sale, or there, their, and they’re. A lot (still a minority compared to people in total, but a lot) of people are out there, well-versed in geography and biology, trying to stop an overwhelming climate change, and maybe save a few endangered species while they’re at it. Other people who did manage to remember their algebra and trigonometry not only working on things like making sure the repairs they did to the overpass near my house this past September are put together in a way that holds cars up, but they’re designing computer stuff that, among other things, makes it so that the ‘love only’ group doesn’t have to actually think, their phone is smarter and does it for them.

I have teacher friends complaining regularly that the plain old paper notebook their student is using will NOT highlight a misspelled word, and that just perhaps their classes could check the book open right in front of them for how to spell terms and names In The Book. The conditions are amazingly right for successful adoption *sigh*, if you want to try making a pet out of this peeve yourself.

So. history, traditions, ecosystems, spell-check, overpasses that stay over… maybe my pet peeve isn’t that small after all. And anyone, ever, who has tried to make friends (let alone more) with me by bragging about just how much they forgot from high school? Yeah. They haven’t made the cut.

 

 

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