Are we living in the age of idiots?

Thousands of years of evolution and people seem to be getting more idiotic by the day.


The human brain. It's our body's most brilliantly complex organ, managing our emotions, memories, thoughts, vision, breathing, sense of touch and literally every complex procedure that keeps your skinsuit alive. It's genius when you think about it. So why are people such bloody idiots?

If humanity disappoints you to the point that you're face-palming and exclaiming "idiot" every 10 minutes, join the club. Of course, you've got a range of idiots, from mega idiots invading countries or ignoring climate change to garden-variety, modern-day idiots. Idiots with AirPods talking about real estate in overly-loud one-sided conversations, reality TV idiots (enough said), road-rage idiots that would rather cause a crash than let you in, idiots mouthing off on social media, and of course, idiots with mobile phones.

Cyclists after crashing at the Tour de France; Idiot defacing Colosseum
In 2023 we've seen an idiot cause a serious crash at the Tour de France, while another idiot was filmed defacing the Colosseum. Source: Twitter

Like the selfie-taking idiot last month who stuck out his arm and took down rider Sepp Kuss of the Jumbo-Visma team. This act of sheer idiocy caused a domino effect that resulted in 20 cyclists crashing into each other on the Tour de France. Kuss's team is now threatening to sue the idiot. According to Cycling News, Jumbo-Visma team manager Richard Plugge said, "I think we owe that to the riders who were on the ground. Not only ours but also those of other teams." In other words, bloody idiots like this need to be stopped.

How far we've come...

Or that idiot in June who took his key and carved "Ivan+Hayley 23" into Rome's Colosseum, a 1,937-year-old monument, while his partner filmed on her phone. Italians nearly self-combusted in riotous uproar while the vandalism drew condemnation from the highest levels of the country's government. After a worldwide shaming, Ivan Danialov Dimitrov, 27, who lives in London, admitted to being a world-class idiot, saying, "I am profoundly embarrassed to admit that it was only after this sad incident that I began to appreciate just how ancient this monument is."

Yet rather than Dimitrov being alone in his idiocy, only two weeks later, a 17-year-old tourist from Switzerland was recorded by an Italian tour guide doing the same thing. According to la Repubblica, when the guide told the teenager's parents what she'd done, the parents responded, "She's just a little girl; she wasn't doing anything wrong." Idiots.

Aussie men fishing in crocodile-infested waters
These idiots shared videos of themselves fishing next to fresh crocodile tracks. Source: YouTube

Doing it for the 'likes'

Closer to home, earlier this month a Queensland crocodile expert slammed "fishing influencers" for uploading videos of themselves wading into croc-infested waters for social media clout. Back in April, Bob Irwin, doing his late son Steve Irwin proud, called out these same "idiots". It beggars' belief that people are so idiotic that Irwin has had to campaign for amendments to the Nature Conservation Act, to make it an offence to disturb crocs for content. "The government says idiots like these are not breaking any laws. Well, I say, change the law," declared Bob. Agreed, Bob, agreed.

I'm not sure where I fall on the spectrum of idiocy, but I'm confident that despite providing a library of humanity's knowledge at our fingertips, smartphones make us dumber. Research has demonstrated that overstimulation from constantly being on phones may hurt cognition, while having your smartphone within reach significantly reduces cognitive capacity — even if it's turned off. How idiotic is that? Combine all this with a general lack of attention to what's going on outside of our mobiles, and it would go some way to explain why we do indeed live in the age of idiots.

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