5/16/2006

The folly of independent thinking

The most overrated commodity is independent thinking. Everybody thinks they think independently and everybody's proud of the fact that they do, which begs the question, how independent can independent thinking be?

Independent thinkers disdain those whose thinking is under the influence of cliches, bumper stickers and Fox News. But these people are the salt of the earth. Those of us who criticize independent thinking are rare, which makes us the real independent thinkers. But we take no pride in it. Instead, we promptly return to conventional thought where things are safe and easy. We're no fools. Let's discuss why independent thinking is overrated.

Let's first identify what is and isn't independent thought. Just because one disagrees with a conventional idea doesn't make one an independent thinker. Most of the time it just makes one a pain-in-the-ass, a malcontent, a person so in love with the idea of “independent thought” that no bit of convention escapes his pooh-poohing. This guy usually has wire-rimmed glasses, a black turtleneck sweater and a pony-tail. When confronted with a lit cigarette, this jerkoff can be identified by a series of sarcastic sighing sounds and eye-rolling. I invite smokers to extinguish their cigarettes on the aforementioned jerkoff's forehead. Ashtrays are so conventional.

Here's one example of independent thought that's really just hogwash: hating the president. Bush, Clinton, Reagan -- it doesn't matter who's in the Oval Office or what his party affiliation. Some people insist on hating the president. He's who all the conventional people voted for. So he must be faulty. By this rationale, all presidents are stupid. (The hater, by contrast, is a regular Einstein. Why didn't the rest of us have the good sense to elect him? Instead, he's pulling double-shifts at Foot Locker.) Hating the president is an independent thinker's hobby. Wallowing in the craze of Bush-hating, many forget that Clinton was despised in his day, too. We're getting downright nostalgic for Ronald Reagan, but in the 1980s, he was the 2nd biggest moron next to Tony Danza. Indeed, what a seductive thought to believe oneself more fit to run the country than the man who persevered the rigors of a campaign and won an election! I swear these people would hate Abraham Lincoln if only they lived in the 1860s. I'm sure they'd hate that “top-hat-wearing smirker.” Every time they discussed Lincoln's tenet of abolition at cocktail parties, they'd make sarcastic quote marks in the air with their fingers. Yeah, I'm growing tired of Lincoln's “War on Slavery” excuse, when really he's just in bed with his buddies in Big Emancipation.

And boy, do these independent thinkers know better than the rest of us bovine slobs how to spend government tax revenue. They can't balance their own checkbooks, but they're fit to superintend a 13-trillion dollar economy. I've endured the agony of their economic platforms, which they're all-too-happy to share. They usually call for diverting military defense money into hemp farms, acupuncture research and diversity training. Blaming the military budget for all our social ills -- what a choice example of independent thinking. Never heard that one before.

The problem with independent thinkers is, they've never independently considered the merits of conventional wisdom. That's the rub. They've wedged themselves into an egotistical sardine can: if it's conventional, it MUST be rubbish because I didn't conceive of it first. Self-centered jerkoff. Of course the rest of us readily see the folly in the independent thinker's premise. Toilet paper, Boy Bands, Zip-lock baggies, houses with right-angles and round tires are all conventional ideas that none of us had anything to do with, but they're still great ideas. New Kids on the Block were word, yo.

Remember the hubbub over the Ten Commandments residing on courtroom property? Remember how up-in-arms the naysayers were? Those were the independent thinkers. Their reasoning when something like this: The Ten Commandments are from The Bible. The Bible is conventional. Convention is bad. Therefore, the Ten Commandments will corrupt the justice system. Rabid with desire to prove themselves independent thinkers, these people fought to remove ideas like “Thou Shalt Not Lie.” “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” From a courtroom! I don't give a damn from where these ideas derive. They belong in every court in America. Thou Shalt Not Kill doesn't derive from religion. It derives from a great deal of us not wanting to fuckin be killed! It's conventional thinking all right. But I submit it's still worthwhile.

Ask yourself this. If independent thinking is so great, why do we cook from recipes? Recipes are the antithesis of independent thought. You let somebody else make all the mistakes and nasty dishes. Let them make messes and accidentally set the kitchen on fire a few times. Once they finally get it right, you borrow the recipe and whip up a culinary masterpiece the first time you try. And don't try to give yourself credit for the recipe just because you added a pinch of onion salt and a dash of liquid smoke to the recipe. The chef on FoodNetwork.com did all the heavy lifting on your Lemon Chiffon Truffles. Nice try.

Now ask yourself this: If independent thinking is so great, why do we obey traffic statutes? What a bunch of mindless robots we are, what with all the stopping at red lights and respecting rights-of-way. Why don't we “think different” and drive on the left side of the road once in a while? Or how about this: The goal is not to avoid pedestrians, but to collide with as many as possible. Now we're thinking independently. Kum Bai Ah, motherfucker. You know that guy in the left lane going 20 miles per hour under the speed limit and swerving over the line? That's the independent thinker on the road! He's living life on his own terms. He's sticking it to the Man. He's a rebel. And the rest of us are either dialing 911 on our cell phones or plotting his murder.

Think conventionally. You'll live longer.

35 comments:

KB said...

Whew!

What "independent thinker" spawned this topic?

Did someone try to run you over with their car?

Did you get their license number? They weren't IL plates were they? 'Cause I was with my mother all day long--I swear.

;-)

Phain said...

Independent thoughts are for 3 year olds... They are the true independent thinkers!

Amandarama said...

Oh, LBB, that's giving me the brain hurting. Truly independent thought! Please! Next you'll be asking me which came first, the chicken or the egg. And don't even get me started about those motherfuckers from the Food Network.

Elaine said...

DAMN LBB. I nearly got whiplash because I was nodding furiously in agreement throughout this ENTIRE post.

Brilliant.

Well written and so DAMN TRUE.

Elaine said...

OH and I LOVED THIS BIT:

"Most of the time it just makes one a pain-in-the-ass, a malcontent, a person so in love with the idea of “independent thought” that no bit of convention escapes his pooh-poohing. This guy usually has wire-rimmed glasses, a black turtleneck sweater and a pony-tail. When confronted with a lit cigarette, this jerkoff can be identified by a series of sarcastic sighing sounds and eye-rolling."


Damn. If only you knew how many of these types got their asses midget whooped in college. They all cried of course.

Pussies.

LBB FOR PREZ!

212designs said...

i can't.

if i did i wouldn't consider talking to guys with the word inch in thier email address....

but yes i probably would live longer...

would i want to though is the real question .. ?

Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

You're supposed to stop at them there red lights???

Damn....;)

Peter said...

Independently well thought out and written Bugs.

Webmiztris said...

while I DO hate the prez, I don't consider myself an 'independent thinker' necessarily. actually I try to think, independently or not, as little as possible. ;)

nongirlfriend said...

Hey, I LIKED Tony Danza.

keda said...

all my thoughts are now entirely dependant. upon whether or not its good for my kids or will make me fat generally.
does that mean i'm saved?

Oh great One said...

I read this and it made me laugh because I know people like that! Well done!

Lyvvie said...

I don't believe in independant thinking. I'm certain every thought I've had has been had by someone else a million times over. But I'm pretty certain I'm doing it all by myself. Wait, am I confusing independant thinking with original thought??

tornwordo said...

But wait, what's your point?

I know I should use recipes, but we always make it up. End up eating a lot of bad concoctions.

Nölff said...

Try cooking with rock-n-roll and magic. It's delicious.

kari said...

That is JUST what I think!

Blonde Vigilante said...

I'm really not a particular fan of Abraham Lincoln. Does that make me independent...or just "in the know."

Migraine Boy said...

You are so wise you make Confuscious look like a retard!

NeverEnough said...

Have you thought about running for President :)

Seriously, I loved this post.

Junebugg said...

I try to avoid thinking whenever possible, it makes my head hurt. Besides, if the powers-that-be at work find out that I can think, they'll expect me to do it all the time!

Tense Teacher said...

You really need to stop by the school where I teach and give this as a lecture to all the little assholes who believe they're "independent thinkers."

Detroiter said...

Oh, great. Now you've done it. Made me think. My un-evolutionized brain. Is aching. Must. Lie. Down.

nongirlfriend said...

You didn't have take down ChickenStrip. I'm maintaining both sites now.

IDigHootchAndCootch said...

independent thinking vs my slavish tendencies - its a battle I lose on a daily basis.

"AG" said...

The "independent thinkers" of which you write are similar to the patchouli wearing scowling pot smokers who think passivity equals peace.

Smug said...

So, are you trying to tell us that thinking conventional thinkers are actually more . . . independent?

We could play this game all day.

Becky said...

I'm a parrot, I can admit it!

Frap Gurl said...

A fucking independent thinker driving on the left side of the road made me roll my car! I was almost a damn tree hugger after that! Literally!

mcBlogger said...

You've just described my cubicle-buddy. I use the word "buddy" loosely. Only difference, is it's a she, she's canadian. You've got her all wrapped up, but amid all her poo poohing over convention, she's the one with the perfect kid in university, drives a mid-size family sedan, has a registered black lab, perfect husband and big house in the ritzy part of town.

Barry S. said...

I know tons of people who hate the prsident simply because he is the president.

I am a very independent cooker, also. Things I make never taste the same twice.

Smug said...

LBB -- Thanks for dropping by. Didn't realize you were a local boy! What are you doing in Arizona?

Stumbled across your blog via our mutual friend, NuggetMaven. Found your rants smart and enjoyable. It is my pleasure to have you on my blogroll.

Come back anytime.

Spinning Girl said...

A hearty bravo; I avoid independent thinking whenever possible. I am both lazy and uninformed, those are the main reasons; but I pretend it is because I want to pay homage to the great thinkers like Copernicus, and Galileo, and Nipsy Russell. My mottoes are "stand on the shoulders of giants" and "why re-invent the wheel?"

Oh and PS, at your suggestion I shall add a pinch of onion salt and a dash of liquid smoke to my next batch of lemon chiffon truffles.

NWJR said...

If you're gonna think inside the box, This is the place to do it.

phlegmfatale said...

What a great stinger in the tail of this post. Hilarious, as always!

Miss Sassy said...

Its so hard to pretend to indulge those who think they are bucking the system when they are holding the "independent" rag of a "newspaper" as the source of their "new idea".
I'll refer them here instead of bobbing my head and wondering how they go their panties in such a wad about mining for diamonds AFTER they got their encrusted wedding band upgraded to a REAL rock...

Not that that actually happened TODAY or anything...