public forums highlight society’s directionless quest for “stature”

It blows my mind that people argue politics on forums online in South Africa. I believe they hope their little bit of electioneering will change the hearts and minds of a particular political party card holder. That they believe they are reaching the majority of the population!?

I maintain that if you want to lose all hope in society you should read the comments section of News24’s website. Don’t get me wrong I like News24, information is not always accurate but they are among the speediest of updaters with breaking news. So i visit the site whenever I need a break and want to see if anything is going on.

Oftentimes not much is.

The above prefaces my utter loathing of this new trend of public participation in every form of media that is presented to the public now. Expert opinion, it appears, holds no more weight than the next viewer or listener that phones in to add their two cents. 

I think the reason it really bugs me is that it appears to be another celebration of mediocrity. It discredits the years of work and experience of thought leaders. It takes away from those that achieve more and encourages others to achieve less, because, what is the point? All voices are the same. Why aren’t philosophers, economists, scientists and engineers idolized and held up as examples? When it is so easy to pick upa piece of mass media and find a naked celebrity making a name for themselves.

Are we still so driven by sex and physical desire that looking good is enough of a reason to be celebrated? Will we ever get past this?

Yes I am a trained scientist, and yes I am cheesed off that science is largely ignored and discounted by people that do not understand it’s concepts. Yet they pick up a cellphone and text their friend to tell them just how uncool this guy was or how bored they are and they have nothing to do, and there is no concept of just what an amazing feat sending that simple message was and how much science and engineering it took to get to that point.

I’m going to stop now, because this is becoming, no it probably has already become, a rant. What I do want, is to find a few suggestions that may combat this general malaise. We all have the ability to learn and create. It’s our greatest gift! I want to see it used more. I want to see us prosper!

How do we make being smart cool? Once we achieve that, I believe it will become self-propagating. You’d have to raise your game to keep up!



  1. I’ve come to be equally frustrated, and believe that South Africa is unashamedly anti-intellectual. We have no thought leaders that I know of, no mentionable intellectuals, philosophers, or thinkers, just degenerative politicians and tribalists notions of party allegiances. People don’t value being critical consumers, and we have long abandoned the art of constructive and rational debate. Education and access to resources is not enough, with the way online information is presented to us people just end up finding more support for their own ideas. Google is a harsh gatekeeper, as is Facebook, and they feed us the type of information they think we want to see. That’s is why I’ve started “liking” many other pages that I would normally not like. Other political parties and opposition sports teams, alternation religious views and so on, I want to see what messages these organisations are putting out there and what their followers are saying (and to confuse Google and Facebook with regards to their next suggestion and profiling). Education and access to information is not the golden key, a cultural shift in thinking has to occur. Personally, as a media student, I feel that understanding how the media runs itself and constructs its messages should be know to all. We will in a techno-hyper age where we are all consuming, creating, and sharing media. These messages are received by all, however not all actually fully understand the power of the images but believe they do due to the fact they are constantly engaging with/consuming them. It’s a fatal fallacy that perhaps results in the dilution of the value we place on experts. I am not sure how to make smart cool, but having leaders who themselves value education would be great start (that’s why I was, for but a brief moment, excited with the DA merger that went south). We are also on a massive drive to improve basic education in SA, and I think that education is simplified to primary, secondary, and tertiary education—after that, you’re good! Education—as Einstein once put it—should commence as birth and cease only at death. This is the shift in perception I would like to see take over, one that places great emphasis in becoming critical consumers, rational residents, instead of stubborn sheeple. We are blinded by the need to make money and buy things, that is the measure of success in this country, and its why people flock to business degrees and the like and devalue the critical creativity and fluidity of thought the arts promotes. South Africa has very unique challenges, and I believe that if we can make it work here their hope that will shine and extended way beyond our borders—but we lack cohesiveness, that overarching rainbow that connects us all, that golden thread we can all grab onto proudly to pull ourselves through these muddy mind traps we’re stuck it. Viva critical thinking! Viva!


  2. Hi Brett,
    yes, there is very little respect for the hard work scientists do and the effort they put in. Living in Australia, I am subjected to the occasional denialist rumours spread around by Andrew Bolt: our version of a Fox News denialist pin up boy. I wish I was a scientist, but alas, was born with a humanities brain. Wrong wiring on this guy!
    But it seems even comedians hear your pain. Enjoy. “I’m a climate f…. scientist!” It seems some people do still respect actual scientists doing actual work and thinking actual thoughts with actual data.


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