Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Technically, you and I are far more intelligent than our forefathers, according to the “Flynn effect“. In a nutshell, IQ tests have to be revised every few years. The complexity of the tests has to increase as the years go on due to our continually growing intelligence. Therefore, stop doubting yourself and read on smarty pants.
However, when looking at all the social, civil and political changes swooping across the globe, we tend to view so many as controversial, strange or just downright wrong.
But when looking deeper into why we resent such rapid change, seeing the world as dumber compared to our outlooks, we first need to understand how our brain works.
“The features observed in the adult brain reflect human-specific patterns of brain development. Compared to the brains of other primates, the human brain takes longer to mature,” according to an article on NCBI. This means that our brain takes time in establishing, creating and modifying changes required to understand and deal with people’s evolution.
Basically, we are a product of repeated effort over time, resulting in habits, opinions and beliefs (good or bad). But how does this slow-to-get-there type of brain fare in today’s rapid world?
Over the past 100 years, everything has continued to speed up, leaving our once gradual evolution now running in overdrive as we try to keep up with the constant changes. Your brain sees more information in one day on social media than your great grandparents saw in a lifetime, if ever. As a result, the information and technological era is changing us, and you can see this with a straightforward exercise.
Watch your favourite childhood comedy (not animation). The first thing you will notice is the level of humour development between the ’90s and today. Secondly, you will note the language used often seems “corny” or “cheesy”.
Lastly, you will note that the movie was able to stimulate your brain as a young person. Yet, today the same film only evokes nostalgia and the thought that “if this came out today, it would be a flop.”
Therefore, our increased scale for humour, ability to absorb information, and lateral thinking are all signs that our brains are slowly but surely catching up.
“This goes to show the development in mentality over just the past 20 years. Once, we were not much different from our relatives, other primates. But today, imagine comparing a modern-day 35-year-old Travel Blogger to a Victorian-era born 35-year-old farmer, let alone a primate. The difference in life exposure, IQ, basic conversation, worldly knowledge and the ability to absorb information would be unimaginable.”
So knowing that we are smarter than numerous generations before us, why does it feel like the general body of people globally is dumber?
It does not matter in which form—our species (for the most part) perceives conflict as a threat. Yet, every day we go online and willingly subject ourselves to unlimited anger and opinions for no apparent reason, only curiosity. Have you ever asked yourself if this is all healthy for your slow to create pattern and habit brain? And could this be why you see the world as upside down, frustrating or, for lack of a better term, stupid?
We are all still apes, and as funny as that sounds, it is a long-proven fact. But, our overexposure to content, people’s individual growth and social media are widely known for their influence on our mental state.
Our evolving brains are still trying to adapt to extreme change (trends, politics etc.) Yet, we are still using an operating system (brain) that has not learned how to process this correctly. This, coupled with overexposure to other humans’ every waking thought, leads us to make assumptions about society and our environment, which are generally incorrect. All of this just stresses our brains. Anger, our primary response, then assists in solidifying our current mindset, making it even more challenging to deal with the world around us.
The scary part is, the level of stress we place our brains under is all on us. From social media to social environments, you are choosing who and what you expose yourself to.
Regardless, if you feel unintelligent, just remember that you are the tip of the spear in human evolution. From monkey to human, our story is like no other. We won the evolutionary race out of the three groups of apes (Chimps, Bonobos and Humans).
Our species has transformed from a group of people searching for knowledge to a group trying to create knowledge. A fast world, open communication, and lack of a stressed environment drive us deeper down the rabbit hole of creativity in pursuing our reality.
In the 1800s, the world, but a few, lived in mass poverty. I don’t mean going without McDonald’s or living in a broken house. I mean, extreme poverty. By 1955, due to technological advancements in food, industry and business, three-quarters of the world now lived in extreme poverty. In contrast, today, under 10% of the world lives in this state. And all this free time and less stressed environment, coupled with better medical, allowed various parts of the brain to get creative.
Additionally, we need to take some of the blame. The responsibility for one’s knowledge has given way to inconsequential, often incorrect information discovered through bias searches. Sadly the goal of qualified experience and education is oddly ignored. We now love, obtaining just enough info to perpetuate ignorance and structure shaky, distorted opinions while looking knowledgeable because it’s easy.
Nevertheless, we will adapt. Our species and our brains will process information faster. Generations to come will outgrow these evolutionary glitches as the ages strive. But not if we continue succumbing to our emotions, forsaking logic and hard-earned knowledge from those wiser than us.
Work with your evolution. Stop allowing your emotions to make choices. Understand that everyone is at various stages of development; linage, environment and genetics play an instrumental role. Recognise the reality that you are brilliant but have a long way to go.
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