Anybody who isn’t prepared to acknowledge that the world is messed up right now is probably still writing their emails with crayons. Besides all the regular stuff – crime, poverty, injustice, starvation — we’ve got the big bogeyman Covid-19 hiding under the bed. And that’s kinda supersized our inability to deal with this crap. Admit it: agrarian reform is Sub-Saharan Africa is not exactly your #1 priority these days, is it? The fact is, our world is in big trouble and we’re mostly worried about whether our facemasks make us look fat. So, how did we get on the express bus to Disasterville? Easy answer! Back in the day, we made two fundamental mistakes, and ever since then, we’ve been muddling around, trying to fix them — without ever actually admitting we made them in the first place. So just to clarify: here is where we screwed up.
We got rid of Latin – Anybody who’s ever studied Latin will tell you it’s a completely whacked-out language. It’s full of things that just don’t make any sense. For example, there are 3 genders, about 100 verb forms and God only knows how many declensions (whatever they are.) It takes years of study, an incredible memory and dogged determination to learn Latin. In fact, teachers used to have to beat little kids with sticks to make them learn the damn thing. However, Latin had one thing going for it. Because it’s so godawful difficult, it was the language of serious people. That’s why all the serious stuff is written in Latin — legal stuff, (like habeas corpus and modus operandi) religious stuff, medical stuff, even sex stuff, plus astronomy, anthropology and all the other ologies. Even today, everything on Earth that walks, crawls, flies, swims or grows has a real Latin name. For centuries, anybody who wanted to be taken seriously did it in Latin. Think about it! Isaac Newton (totally serious guy) wrote Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica — not An Apple Fell on My Head. But the very best bit is, Latin kept people who weren’t serious from jumping into the conversation with their 2-bit idiot opinions. They didn’t know the words, so they had to shut up when serious people were talking. Thus, the world had a quick and dirty way to distinguish the people who actually wanted to deal with the problems that plague our planet from the other folks who just wanted to flap their jaw. It wasn’t foolproof, but it worked.
We invented YouTube – In the old days, if you didn’t know something and your friends didn’t know it either, you had two choices. You could either spend hours in a library, looking at books, or shrug it off and go watch TV. This separated the serious folks from the rest of us who had a life – even if it was only reruns of Gilligan’s Island. These days, however, if you don’t know something, all you have to do is click YouTube, and suddenly there are 15 videos that answer your question. The problem is those answers aren’t necessarily the right ones: they’re just the most popular. Plus, a 12 minute video on how to make a missile out of a Pringles tube, vinegar and bicarbonate of soda doesn’t make you a rocket scientist. YouTube has made information available to the masses, but it has also made a bunch of people (who should be watching Gilligan’s Island) into make-believe experts. And these fugitives from Basic Cable think they can talk the talk with the big people. But the very worst bit is there’s nothing to make them shut up, and they’re muddying the intellectual water for the serious folks who want to take a drink. Not to mix too many metaphors, we simply can no longer distinguish the conversation from the noise.
So what do we do?
Unfortunately, the horrible conclusion is until we bring back Latin and limit the influence of YouTube so we can distinguish the populo gravi from the fatuis, we’re pretty much screwed.
Disclaimer: We live in unsophisticated times, so I have to point out that this is satire. I do not advocate banning YouTube or beating children with sticks, so please save your emails! Cheers.