“Common sense …. is very uncommon.”(Lord Chesterfield)


Common sense seems to be running out as one of our natural resources. If we don’t do something to reverse this trend we will  be sadly surprised  at how much we miss it. I think this depletion is a direct result of technology. We have made life so simple in so many ways that we have eliminated the need for our most creative thinking and its practical application. Allow me to illustrate what has happened.

The last century or so has really been the first era in history where most people didn’t have to grow their own food and now we have made it possible for many people to not even cook their own meals. Restaurants, carry out and microwave dinners have made it so easy that many people never learn to boil water much less cook. With this trend came the end of family dinners and the sharing of our experiences with each other. I learned so much from my folks at the dinner table that I can’t imagine my life without those times.

The internet has made it possible for people to research any subject with just a few well-chosen search terms. Unfortunately, the search engines are not designed  to give you the most accurate answer just the most popular answer. How many of us take the time to look thru more than a couple of pages of responses before we decide we have learned enough? And remember, the ones at the top of the first page have been put there by someone willing to pay to get that top of the page position. Do you really think they are doing that as a public service or do they have a profit motive? Traditionally our libraries were the repositories of knowledge and they were intentionally devoid of advertisement.

Common courtesy has suffered right along with common sense. My son works in the product support department for a well-known GPS manufacturer. He’s one of those poor souls who has to try to resolve problems over the phone. Now remember, he had no part in the design or manufacture of these units, he wasn’t present at the initial purchase and he had no say whatsoever in the development of the company policies regarding warranty claims. Even without any inherent responsibility, not a week goes by that some customer doesn’t curse his name or threaten to have him fired. Who, in their right mind, truly believes that by being abusive to the one person whose job it is to try to resolve every issue, that he will then try that much harder to help the abuser. My son takes his job very seriously and sincerely tries to help everybody. I can promise you he tries even harder to help the ones who are the most courteous to him.

We design beautiful structures but fail to account for practical applications that make them more useful. Just one example would be public restrooms. How simple would it be to always have doors that open out, when leaving, so we don’t have to get our hands dirty grabbing a handle? How pointless is it to wash your hands and then the next thing you have to touch is a germ infested door handle?

We depend on personal electronic devices to the point where we add risk to our lives. Car & Driver Magazine did a recent article about distracted driving (specifically texting) that compared reaction times and avoidance ability to alcohol impairment. Guess who was worse? Texters lost and it wasn’t that close. I have been driving for 40 years now and have logged nearly a million miles without a serious accident. Even with much safer cars today than in the 70’s I am much more afraid of being in an accident than ever before in my life. I see people behind the wheel of 5,000 lb. SUVs with GPS units on the windshield giving directions, cell phone in one hand, cigarette in the mouth and occasional sips of coffee all while cruising down the highway in excess of the speed limit. That’s not really an accident, that’s fate. I just don’t want to be the poor guy who gets rear-ended by little Ms. Multi-tasker.

Let’s all take a deep breath and repeat after me, “I promise to use my brain for its original purpose and to declutter my thought process so I can preserve all the common sense I have left.” I really don’t think I’m asking too much. We might even have a little time left over to be happy. Wouldn’t that be nice?

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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