40 Times People Were Shamed Online For Being Idiots During The Pandemic
Let’s just put it out there: pretty much everyone witnessed some unbelievable stuff during the pandemic. Like how some people saw toilet paper as the hottest commodity. How others believed 5G towers spread the disease. Not to mention dealing with anti-maskers, confronting anti-vaxxers, and generally worrying about the state of human idiocy.
Covid-19 life revealed the true colors of folks around us, and thanks to the r/FacePalm subreddit, we can see it in broad daylight. Titled as the "gallery of inexplicable stupidity", the moderators ask the members to share proof of human foolishness for everyone to enjoy.
We have selected some of the best examples of people doing cringe-worthy things in the midst of the pandemic and getting rightfully shamed for it online. Continue scrolling and upvote the ones you enjoyed most! And if you’re in the mood for some more stupidity goodness both online and in real life, check out our previous posts here, here, and here.
Well You're Not Wrong
To learn more about why people do foolish and ludicrous things, we reached out to Balazs Aczel, an associate professor at ELTE University in Budapest, and author of the study What is stupid?: People's conception of unintelligent behavior. "In our research, we found that people use the label 'stupid' for three very different types of actions," he told Bored Panda.
"We call the first category 'confident ignorance'. In these actions, people's confidence tends to exceed what their skills or knowledge would allow," the professor said. "In other words, they think they know how to do risky things, and they do it. For example, they go bungee jumping with their home-made gear, such as a metal cord."
The second type of stupid action is due to absentmindedness. Aczel explained that in this case, people have sufficient knowledge to act rationally, except they don't monitor their actions. "Whenever we turn into auto-pilot, we risk doing something very irrational. A good example is a professor who was so engaged in a deep conversation with his colleagues at his home that when he went to his bedroom to get a book, seeing the bed he got into his pajamas and went to sleep."
The third kind of stupidity is "lack of control". "Here, people know how to do things right and are aware of their actions, they still make that mistake," he continued. "Impulsivity and short-term emotions can make us act against our best thinking. In heated conversations, we can easily lose control. Overindulging in food or drinks can also seem stupid the day after."
The professor told us that if there’s one thing people can easily agree on, it’s to determine whether something is stupid or not. You see, there’s a common thing in foolish actions — "there is a risk or harm involved when the actor should have known better. The more we believe that the person had the knowledge that the action is risky, the more upset we get with making that mistake."
"It's likely that regarding and calling certain actions stupid helped our survival," he added. "We might speculate that by calling something (and not someone!) stupid, we tag a negative affective 'stamp' on actions that we believe better to be avoided. If we had to learn it by description, then we would certainly fail."
When asked why so many of us enjoy witnessing others act silly, Aczel argued that while it may seem paradoxical, stupid actions can bring us sorrow and joy at the same time. "If we label actions that should be avoided 'stupid,' then why do we seek them?"
"In fact, the entire entertainment industry is built on people's desire to watch other people doing something very stupid. One possible answer is that when we watch others' stupid actions then we feel superior, we can easily think that we are not that dumb. Watching stupid actions also simplifies the complexity of the world temporarily: nothing is more obvious than the stupidity of a stupid act. Feeling superior and easing our brainwork is very pleasing for humans."
You might think that when we see others act ridiculous and irrational, it should teach us to avoid repeating them. But, according to Aczel, the world would be very different if watching silly things others do would fully prevent us from doing them in the future.
"Nevertheless, it's reasonable to think that we don't have to gain personal experience in every stupid mistake in order to avoid them. One key to the success of the human race is that we can learn from others without experiencing it ourselves. Since the research of stupid-labeled actions is fairly new, we will need further studies to find out how watching silly actions influence our own behavior," he explained.
Aczel noted that doing stupid things seems to be part of human nature. "Often by mistake but sometimes by wish," he added. "Why is it so tempting to get silly sometimes? The writer John Steinbeck says: 'Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids.'"
"Perhaps, acting smartly is very tiring and, occasionally, we have to take our leave from the control of rationality. It might be even adaptive to do that but only if we find the line between being silly and doing something really stupid," Aczel concluded.
We also managed to get in touch with David M. Allen, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and co-editor of Groupthink in Science. According to him, when it comes to people who spread misinformation and label the pandemic a hoax, that's almost always due to groupthink.
"In order to be considered part of a group, which has evolutionary survival value and so is, in my opinion, written into our genetic code (although we are able to choose to not do this and think critically, but there is usually a significant social cost), we often must go along with views that are held as central by our kin or social group," he explained.
Allen mentioned that groupthink also involves a lot of what one author called Willful Blindness — avoiding looking at any information that contradicts the group norms. "Paradoxically, in order to do this, one has to know where not to look, meaning that the individual has to know where it is, which in turn means that they actually have looked at it," the professor added.
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"Trying to argue with people from a competing group is difficult because it usually involves negative ideas about your opponent — calling them stupid in one way or another invariably leads them to become defensive and start attacking back."
The professor wanted to share some advice with you, dear readers. "When it comes to interacting with people of opposite persuasions, learn how to be empathic with their positions before going on to challenge them. This is not easy to do when you feel they are attacking you, but it can be done."
Remember that "there is usually some aspect of the other fellow's position that you can agree with," he continued. "Being brave enough to engage in your own critical thinking about ideas cherished by your own groups can be useful in avoiding doing stupid things repeatedly with the same negative consequences."