What Has Happened to Common Sense?

Picture by: Aisha Ahmed (2012) Aisha’s Scrapyard, WordPress.

Common sense seems to be so rare these days that is should instead be changed to ‘super sense.’ What is it about modern-day society that makes thinking and acting like a complete idiot in public, an okay thing to do? Where have our morals gone? From acting silly in public to participating in stupid challenges that will have a detrimental effect to our health, such as the ‘Tide Pod Challenge,’ when will it stop?

**Disclaimer – This article contains subjective views. No offense is intentional**

Introduction:

Our decisions are first driven by our character formed by virtues, such as honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, respect and responsibility, and then applied through careful deliberation.

As society develops, the human race has come to be quite remarkable. With new inventions coming into play and research advancing, we have come to exceed our own expectations, however, there are also many that lack some of the most basic abilities of being human; to think and act clearly with common sense. In a world that was designed to be fair and judicial, what has happened?

Our Society:

Common decency and common sense are two of the most important aspects to a civilised society. Does this mean we have become uncivilised? The basis for our society is to respect others regardless of race, colour, beliefs, origin or sexual identity. We have a long way to go before that type of society settles in, as we continue to bully and plague our society of disgraceful acts, such as violence, racism, discrimination and more.

Today, it seems that common sense is also known as an ‘uncommon degree,’ which the world calls wisdom.

A prime example of a lack of common sense are the leaders of our great countries. Most people would agree that Trump and May are two leaders that lack this quality. A wise person would not shoot themselves in the foot at every turn of the presidential primary, and a wise person would not make cuts to the most important public services within an already failing economy. It is the epitome of careless thought to insult different groups of people and professions. It defies logic to call out members of a particular nationality, or to make violent attacks on others. It lacks common sense to act first and then consider the consequences of one’s actions after. 

This is merely a decline in common decency and wisdom of thought and action. And, seeing as this behaviour comes from our countries leaders is even more concerning. 

Parenthood:

Parents tend to spent most of their time teaching their children how to use common sense. Example – do not climb on that broken chair because it might break, or do not hit your brother because you will get in trouble. The list of things taught to children as a means to value life is endless, and the most important parental lesson taught is common sense.

Some parents do try their best to teach children to take responsibility for their own actions, to seek the high ground, value human life and consider the rights and feelings of others, much like heroes they read about in books. But, the heroes of our modern day era display questionable character flaws, which are considered ‘the norm,’ subliminally teaching children that this is ‘right’ and normal behaviour. When did accumulating money, prestige and power over others become the answer for a successful society and a culture to thrive within?

By the time children reach teenage – young adulthood, the general actions of society as a whole influences and encourages them to do silly things, which leaves them with little to no common sense. Life is suddenly about living ‘in the moment’ and not thinking about the potential consequences that will occur afterwards or the personal responsibilities that they may have for themselves and / or others. Life seems to be lived precariously from one moment to the other. 

A Paradox:

People tell youngsters how much they value children having an education, yet the subliminal messages sent though the media is that we do not. Where is the section in the newspaper that is dedicated to all the great things youngsters have done whilst being in education or in general? Where it the television channel or online sites that promotes the qualities of learning rather than people playing ‘reality games’ (such as hole in the wall and I’m a celebrity get me out of here) as a means for entertainment? Do we honestly wonder why youngsters do not value being scientists? The message is that fame and celebrity being comes more with stupidity and outlandishness rather than intelligence.

Am I the only one who sees this paradox as a decline of values, morals, integrity and common sense of our modern day society and culture?

Common Sense In Further and Higher Education:

Practitioners are often bombarded with the ‘best,’ ‘new and improved’ ideas in education. They hear it all the time with their resources. “Teach using centered based learning,” “Group lessons do not work,” and more they are told. “All teachers should be student-centered and not teacher centered.”

What has happened to common sense? What has happened to finding a balance between student-centered and teacher-centered practices? 

Some practitioners have students for an hour a day while others spend the entire day with them in a self-contained classroom. There are many lecturers who spend hours and hours reading current research to find the best practices and to keep up to date with their industry, and sometimes that research can be very overwhelming. Practitioners spend a lot of time within their own thoughts, thinking about how they teach and how their students will learn. They read and reflect on great teaching ideas and styles, and decide what will work for each of their classes. They know  that one size fits all does not work, so figure out the best way to make their lesson work for all students. If that is not commitment, then I do not know what is!

I applaud all the practitioners out there who take the time to do this, for it is no easy task. 

New Ideas?

If colleges and universities want to bring back great educational ideas, they really need to start with common sense. There will be many times when a classroom is lecturer-centered. Why? Because they are the lecturer! They studied and graduated from university so that they could understand what students need. There will be other times when the classroom will be student-centered and students will get the chance to choose what they want to learn. There are many times when a great lecture or engaging conversation is all that is needed to get students to put their heads down and learn. Common sense will tell these practitioners when those opportunities arise. Governmental and senior management departments do not (sometimes) see where their students come from and do not understand the plight of the lecturers. Sometimes, they do not even try to understand, which causes the practitioners of that organisation to undergo additional intense work and observation, which only causes more stress.

Many lecturers and general practitioners know that if they take the time to understand their students and their own teaching practices, then they can figure out the best way to educate their students, and a lot of that comes from common sense.

The Labels!

Ever walk into a shop and see a ridiculous label on a product? Example – should fast food restaurants really have to place a label on their hot drinks that says ‘contents are hot?’ Are movie ratings really responsible for making choices that parents should make in regards to what is appropriate and inappropriate for their children to watch? Does a court really need to step in and decide that what a defendant did was morally wrong? How about warnings on dental hygiene products that tell people not to consume toothpaste or liquids. Is this really necessary? Only, in a ‘normal’ society, where people used common sense, they would already by clear that eating such products is not in their own best interest and could do harm to their health. Does common sense not tell us most of these things?

The endless list of ridiculous labels only signifies that society has lost its ability to use common sense. It seems that individuals who do not choose to utilise their common sense, instead want to blame someone else for their ignorance. Where is the responsibility? 

Stupid Challenges:

We have all seen on social media or on YouTube, the types of silly popular challenges people get up to, that has an effect on their health. But, they do it anyway because it gets them more views and makes them more popular on the internet. But, where is the line drawn? Below are a few silly challenges people have done:

(1) The Tide Pod Challenge – Eating a laundry capsule. Just why? 

(2) The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge – Sucking on bottles to try and get similar lips as the celebrity, Kylie Jenner when she pouts. People can cut their lips and some may even require stitching if they are using glass. It is not a clever idea.

(3) The Cinnamon Challenge – Eating a teaspoon of cinnamon without throwing up. It damages your throat and makes you cry, so why would you do it?

(4) The Carolina Reaper Challenge – Eating a Carolina reaper (worlds hottest chilli) without any water. People have had heart attacks and died doing this, so why do people continue to do it? Do people not value their life?

(5) The Fire Challenge – Setting yourself on fire and seeing how long you last. Question is, why would you do this? It is not thrilling, it is dangerous and you could come out with some serious burns afterwards.

These are challenges that have taken place from 2014 to present day. It is clear that common sense is declining massively. Who honestly thinking doing these things will make their lives better? People’s faith in humanity is lacking and rightly so! These people could be our future leaders. If they are making reckless decisions now, what is in store for the future?

Does Intelligence Have A Part To Play?

A case study out of ‘Psychology Today’ (2017), mentions how if a person has a higher IQ, that person will lack what is known as common sense. Perhaps, we as a society are becoming so intelligent in our technological ways, that we are losing our abilities to stabilize and function in a society that requires common sense to run smoothly. It is slightly concerning for the future. This theory is explained by high thinkers, therefore, may be using their pragmatic approach to life to over think situations and simple aspects of life.

Personal Qualities:

The lack of common sense could boil down to two qualities; selfishness and ego. People today place so much effort into being right all of the time and in winning, even when there is clearly nothing to win or lose. They seem to have lost the most basic function of humans; common sense. Before long, the lack of common sense  and the placement of burdens on everyone and everything else in the world to accommodate it, will eventually cause people to stop thinking at all. Then what happens?

The quote, “think before you speak,” would have died, and been replaced with “you only live once” for everything.

Perhaps instead of university assignments and assessments, in lieu of graduation exams and standardised testing, success should be measured in one’s ability to function self sufficiently in a world that is ‘apparently’ much simpler than we could ever believe. It would be interesting to see who would pass the common sense test of life and who would not. Perhaps it is needed?

Social Media:

Social media has come to be a big part of modern-day society. It is almost like a drug, ready to give you your next dopamine hit every time you get a message or someone follows you. However, even though social media connects us all around the world, it disconnects us as humans and messages can be easily misinterpreted. Sometimes, it is obvious that common sense has not been applied to certain conversations. Unfortunately, it has come to the point where many people do not even know what it means to have common sense, and be decent in the dealings of others. Perhaps the reason is the social media driven culture that does not lend itself to interpersonal communications and interaction. You can only do so much to demonstrate ethical intent and the ability to treat other the way we want to be treated in 140 characters or less (depending on what platform is used).

There are plenty of controversial and provocative things said on social media, which would make a lot of people reading, wonder where the common sense has gone.

My Experience With The Lack Of Common Sense:

I must admit, there are many times in life where I would just stare at someone and genuinely grind my teeth together in frustration at their lack of common sense. I have done some in the past too, but at least I had the decency to rectify myself and take responsibility. The same cannot be said in today’s society.

Scenario – I was casually reading a book in Costa when a young boy and his friends (around 10 or 11) sat by a table next to me and engaged in conversation. These kids had lots of technological devices in their hands too.

Them “Hello.”

Me “Hey There.”

Them “What is that?”

Me “Um… It is a book?”

Them “What does it do?”

Me “What do you mean, what does it do? It is a book.”

Them “Where is the on button? Does it need charging? I have a charger!

Me – *sits in silence*

Them “What is in it?”

**It was at this point, I sat there squinting my eyes, fascinated at how these kids genuinely had no idea what a book was. I thought they must have had some common sense. They must have come into contact with a book at some point, as they are literally everywhere. So yes, the sarcasm was initiated.**

Me “Well, funnily enough, this book is comprised of many words, and those words form sentences. Them those sentences form paragraphs, which turn into chapters, and then all of a sudden…those chapters create what you call ‘a story,’ which is otherwise known as ‘a book.’  That is what is in it.”

Them “Ah, does it have wi-fi?”

**I closed my book, sighed with my mouth wide open, looked at the kid in disbelief and left.**

What has happened!? Is common sense really dead? Do we need to hold a funeral for it? 

Conclusion:

Common sense seems to be failing within modern-day society, and it has become ‘the norm.’ It is baffling to wonder how people think irrational behaviour and participating in challenges that will affect their health is okay. It makes you question what future generations will be like if common sense has or is dying out now.

Thank you for reading.

What are your thoughts?

References:

I am a freelance writer and aspiring author. My passion lies within UK adult education, stigmatised topics and mental health, however, I aim to keep an open mind.


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