Are You out of the Culture Loop?


The most powerful person in the world from ages 1 to 100


OK – it’s official.  I now feel totally out of the popular culture loop (or even the non-popular culture for that matter)!  I looked at a piece on the net the other day, scrolled through the pictures, and counted.  How many of the supposed most powerful persons in the world (at each age from 1-100) did I know?




That’s how many.  And if I had not guessed at some visual clues, I wouldn’t even have known that many.


Perhaps I can be excused for not knowing some of the little moppets under 10 (I did, however, want to tell you that I have heard of Prince George – the most powerful 1 year old).   And I could guess that some little tyke with a hyphenated last name that included Pitt in it was probably related somehow to Brad and Angela.


I did not too badly at the other end of the range, although I must admit that I thought several of these powerful people were already dead.  There was no claim either that any of these identified individuals, however, were still compos mentis.


There is, to be sure, no end of information to grab our attention whether it be print, television, radio or internet.  Humans, supposedly, will create more data in the next two days than collectively have been produced in the history of the world up until 2003.  If all the information in Wikipedia (started in 2001) were printed, without pictures, it would amount to 2053 volumes.  When the Encyclopedia Britannica was first printed in 1768 it consisted of 32 volumes.  We are, in short, drowning in information.  I’m willing to bet that if you asked people if they think that the current generation is the smartest one that has ever lived, the majority would say yes.


But are we any smarter? Here is a basic truth – information does not equal intelligence.  And, not all information is equal.  Unfortunately there are far too many examples of ignorance around us to keep an accurate count.  Martin Luther King wrote:  “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”


Perhaps it is like shooting fish in a barrel, but let’s look first at political candidates, both here and further south.  This time ‘round, we’ve had 3 candidates that I am aware of that have been punted by their parties – one, for truly disgusting comments about people with whom she disagreed, one for portraying (in a mocking manner) people with disabilities, and one for peeing in a mug, tossing it down the sink, and then rinsing out the mug and replacing it on the counter.  We expect our people who are running for government to be reasonably intelligent, yes?  Don’t think they passed the test.


And Donald Trump?  Well, he is what he is.  But what about the huge number of Republicans who have put him first in the polls?  Oh well – as Mencken commented – no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.


Our political discourse is mainly ad hominin attacks, our economic approach is primarily bread and circuses, our spirituality is doctrinaire mush, our education system (despite the few who manage to learn in spite of us) is primarily collective group think, and narcissism and entitlement is the cultural norm.


We can literally find any piece of information that exists by Googling it – yet how many of us ever go past the first page?  We have smart phones whose technology is far superior to that which first sent man to the moon yet the primary use seems to be text messaging things like “r u ready”” to someone in the next room.


Because there is so much information out there, we select the easy stuff to pay attention to.  We don’t know what ISIS stands for, but we certainly know who will be on the first line for the Flames.  We couldn’t identify Syria on a map (or New Brunswick for that matter) but know where Compton is.  We sing along with Taylor Swift but mumble our way through our national anthem.  We know more celebrities who have a shelf life equivalent to that of a ripe banana but have no idea who our elected representatives are – municipal, provincial or federal.


So in retrospect, I’m ok with not being able to recognize the top 100 most powerful people, by age.  Not all information is equal!


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