Almost all animals, making a mistake of any sort, very quickly become an entrée. They get one shot. They make a boo-boo, they become food. For them, instinct is what stands between them and soup and salad. And looking around, clearly it works for them. Most of the time. (Then there’s the opossum: I guess if you’re that ugly, you got short-changed on instincts, too?)

Sadly for most humans, relying on instinct just won’t get you very far. Think of the last thing that goes through a mosquito’s brain when he hits your windshield. Some argue that we don’t have any instincts at all, beyond our infant years. Maybe, but as we get older, we seem to go out of our way to prove the point.

I just don’t understand why it is we insist – we will cut off our nose to spite our face – on making the same mistakes others have already made. Are we afraid there are a finite number of mistakes in the universe, and with all the people on the planet, we might run out of the really good mistakes? News Flash: the “Darwin Awards” are supposed to be funny! So, we settle for the brainless ones? Why, in our efforts to be different (while being part of the crowd – go figure) do we work so hard, move mountains, jump hurdles, take long and tiring detours just to make the same mistakes we have seen others make?

For too many years I told myself that the younger generation was smarter than I was. Maybe I, too, was seduced by the toys they have. I went to college with a slide rule. When I taught college, the students used calculators. Now, first graders are issued laptops. Surely, with all that computing power, they must be smarter? Surely. (Yeah, I know: stop calling you Shirley.)

I have been disabused of that illusion. I am now convinced they are dumber for all their gadgets, internet, chat, Facebook, instant messaging, blogs (I had to add that before one of my faithful readers took me to task). I remember life before the internet. I remember when it was being introduced to the public and we all wondered what it meant (well, almost all: I think Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had vision while the rest of us were wearing bifocals). I remember when “64 k was all anyone would ever need”. (I think my watch has more than 64 kilobytes of memory – a digital watch that simulates an analog display! Ludicrous!) To what use is the internet put to? It ain’t about making the world a better place, it’s primarily used to objectify women and prey on the weak. Yes, there is good stuff on the internet, some of it, anyway. Damned little; but, I am glad to have it.

The younger generation, those graduating from high school now (say, 2013, plus or minus five years), have no knowledge (that will have any worth outside of the classroom), no experience (part-time job? Ha!), and no interest in learning how the world works. Certainly no idea that the world doesn’t look kindly upon mistakes.

As the song says: “Only losers do time.” (apologies for not being able to credit the artist)

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