Artificial Stupidity: The Future of Being Dumb

One of the funniest things about being human and seeing other human beings is the way that certain objects immediately make our IQ drop in large chunks. High on the list of objects that artificially make us do stupid things is the bike. I’m not going to talk negatively about Joe Biden in this context because he’s the president. But the number of dumb things I have done and seen on bikes could fill up a hard drive with stories. 

The fall that Biden took perfectly illuminates the case and he didn’t end up looking that bad. If anything, he showed more physical stamina and prowess than most people would expect.  The whole country seems to be critical of the guy and perhaps he deserves that ire, but he’s our president and so I want to support him. 

He rode up on his bike to a group of people and press. He was wearing those stupid toe cages. He couldn’t get his foot out and so he fell over. At least he didn’t have those shoes that click into the pedals, that would have been worse. He also wasn’t wearing the cyclist uniform. Thank the heavens above. No president should ever be seen wearing those ridiculous skintight monstrosities. 

The fact that it is a standard look, and I don’t even have to describe it for you to picture it perfectly shows how much the bicycle lowers our intelligence. It makes us not care about looking stupid. It also makes us not care about almost getting hit by a car again and again. 

Biden was not so bad. He is intelligent enough to not be completely transformed by the bicycle. What is the point of those outfits? In the tradeoff for presentability with speed are these cyclists really that competitive? Just wear something cool and ride in a way that makes us want to join, not this wild antisocial clicking and clacking of spandex wearing grey foxes invading coffee shops mid ride. It’s an abomination. 

I love riding a bike. I wear a helmet because I love my daughter, but it makes me look very stupid. I also must tuck my pant leg into my sock which is another fashion nightmare. The number of dumb things I have seen other people do on bikes gives me an overwhelming sense that the premise is correct: certain objects make humans stupider. 

Cars must be on the list, for sure, the faster the auto the more IQ points it steals. I’m not so worried about artificial intelligence as I am artificial stupidity. The entire world of bicycling has been flooded by overly excited and inadequately fit folks on ebikes. Now, if the bicycle makes you stupider putting an electric motor on that thing exponentially magnifies the effect. 

What are we to do in a world full of objects that make us dumber? So far it seems like our best option is to fight artificial stupidity with artificial intelligence an hope that the scales tip in our favor. Or, we could devote ourselves to mental fitness, to getting stronger mentally. That would be an option, too. 

What Reading Does: Copywriting and Social Media

You want to share a message with the public. Writing a blog seems like a good exercise, but will it really achieve your goals? How will anyone see it? Do people even read anymore? This article will argue that writing is the most powerful tool you can use to convey your message in today’s cluttered social media world.

A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures

Image and Text are the two key elements to all media. Even with video, where those things are animated by motion, the audio and visual elements are in service of a message. The message is the meaningful part. 

Photographs can be magical, but part of their allure is their elusiveness. When people say that a picture is worth a thousand words, it likely means they lack the ability to explain what is happening. A thousand random words are meaningless.

Photographic Literacy and Video

To be fair, nobody knows how to read a photograph. There is no correct order. The viewer moves freely through the space, so even if it is worth a thousand words it seems highly unlikely that they are ever understood or even considered. A photograph exists better as a physical object that lives on the wall where you can study it at leisure over time.

This partly explains the rise of video on social media. People are uncomfortable with the silence of a photograph. It asks us to think and doesn’t even provide us with any order or organization for how to do so. The moving image leads us on a journey with cues and clues to follow.

Writing also leads a reader through a series of intellectual steps, but it requires some effort to make it go. There is a logic to how it is put together. The writer doesn’t capture an article but must build it up piece by piece. The reader goes through a similar experience, constructing their understanding of the topic as they go and through this effort they fuse their mental energy with the content.

Reading and Mental Fitness

Because there is a clear organizational flow to writing, it is a more straightforward medium than photography. Photographs are among the hardest cultural objects for us to understand, video is the easiest to follow. Writing is right there in the middle. It is not going to automatically start moving for you but if you put in the minimal effort to read, then it takes you on a guided journey. 

Because it requires some effort to read, but not as much originality or intelligence as is required of an intelligent reading of a photograph, writing hits a sweet spot in terms of the impression it makes. When we read something, we internalize it. We use our own inner voice to give shape to the words. This more fully incorporates the message into your consciousness. 

It also provides your public with something useful: intellectual exercise. Mental health is the natural result of mental fitness. Exercising your mind makes your mind more useful and supple. Reading is like walking. It is a low impact activity that has massive therapeutic value. Giving your audience something smart to read will automatically benefit them in meaningful ways. When your content helps someone to become a little bit smarter the association brings a positive connotation. 

Raising the Bar, Eating the Bear

So much media on the Internet aims for the lowest hanging fruit. There is a continual race for the easiest content that has an impact. For businesses trying to figure out how to be efficient in their marketing efforts, this provides an almost irresistible temptation. It also creates an opportunity to resist, a chance to do better.

Instead of rushing to post content that feels like it might go viral, it is infinitely better to take your time and craft meaningful messages. The race to the bottom in social media is obvious and easy to spot. When a brand cares enough about the public’s attention and values them as humans and not just customers they end up doing better marketing.

The harder your content is to copy, the more valuable it is. The worst thing you can do is copy someone else on social media. The very fact that you can reproduce an idea or copy a look means that it is too easy and shouldn’t be your target at all. Instead, your unique value proposition should be built not on ease or convenience but on value. 

In a dog-eat-dog world of social media there’s enough action and interest to hide a lot of fundamental weaknesses. It creates a set of tools that makes it plausible for a brand or individual to fake it until they make it. This is the worst thing you can do because it undermines your credibility and demonstrates a dishonest disposition. Branding is built out of trust in reputation and every message you send either builds or damages your public esteem.

Authenticity is the Secret Sauce

The main reason that writing still matters is because it is hard to produce. The difficulty of good writing is key to its power to evoke an authentic voice, to share a valuable message. When you look at social media today, pay special attention to the writing and see how it either disrespects the viewer or adds value to their experience. 

As we go further into the mediated world of the Internet, it is vitally important to build up our own sense of personal responsibility and integrity. Writing is still the most powerful and inexpensive way to achieve this goal. 

Make Social Media Work for You in ’22

Social media is a vital part of many brands’ marketing strategies. Why? Because it is where people pay attention to new trends. We are no longer questioning if social media is important to marketing, but many people have not figured out how to leverage this powerful set of tools. 

In this article, I will make three suggestions for how to use social media effectively.

Create Your Own Content Calendar

The worst thing you can do is whatever everyone else seems to be doing. Humans have an innate tendency to copy what seems to be working, and in many cases, this might work well enough. It is not a good way to differentiate your brand, however. To stand out from the crowd, you need to do something different, but it can’t be different just for its own sake. Your differences should be relevant to your business.

The best way to do this is to plan out your content in advance. Creating a content calendar will give your media organization and meaning. Make a list of messages that you want to reach your audience. Prioritize that list by moving the topics most relevant to your business goals to the top. This brainstorming and organizational process will help you to blueprint a plan for marketing success.

Stick to Your Guns

Once you have committed to an editorial plan, it is time to execute. One place that people lose the plot is in tracking every metric all the time. Obsessing about numbers and performance on social media is instinctual, but it will drain all your time and mental energy. Instead, set times to review your performance.

It is very difficult to do new things on social media. Literally billions of people are attempting to rack up the views and likes every day. In this cultural environment the ecosystem runs on attention. Where you put your energy is going to determine the success of your efforts. If you spend too much time monitoring the results of your posts and comparing them to other brands, then you will lose precious mental focus that should be spent developing the next set of themes.

The hardest thing about social media marketing is the fact that it is constantly on view. People can and will continually judge your efforts and it is hard to resist wasting your time trying to justify your results. That is a trap. Instead, you need to develop the discipline to follow your plan and stand behind your content.

Prioritize the Written Word

One of the easiest ways to stand out in our current social media landscape is with good writing. This extends beyond the copy that you choose for your captions. It is the essence of your marketing plan. Writing out what you intend to do with your marketing focuses and organizes your efforts. 

Starting with a blog is generally a great idea. Writing an article about some aspect of your business is going to help you to tap into the deeper and more substantial reasons why people should want to use your services. With a more thorough understanding of the subject, each piece of your content will connect and illuminate others. 

The experience of scrolling through social media is random and wild. The algorithm feeds you what it thinks you will like, and that can be so many things all at once. To fight through this confusing cloud of desire and fear you must have a strong and consistent message to deliver. By writing out your message, by creating a solid core of meaning, you empower your content to become resistant to the chaos of everyday media trends.