I see stupid people – why is it cool to be thick?

As a university student, I’m often surrounded by people who get drunk too much, spend their time in clubs with floors stickier than PVA and steal toilet roll from public toilets when needs be.

As a university student, I’m often surrounded by people who get drunk too much, spend their time in clubs with floors stickier than PVA and steal toilet roll from public toilets when needs be. University, once a place for the intellectual elite to sit around philosophising about the meaning of life, has now become a rite of passage for the masses, in which learning comes second place to sleeping around and drinking 80p Jägerbombs.

It’s never been cool to be a nerd, and this seems something that’s never going to change, what with shows such as The Only Way Is Essex glamorising stupidity and implying that getting an education is pointless because it’s far easier to become rich and famous because of your tan than your test results. However, though they are few and far between in these days of gossip magazines and scripted reality TV, you can still find intellectual snobs who would rather stick pins into their eyes than sit through an episode of The X Factor, and these people are questioning just why it is more cool than ever to be stupid.

As an avid fan of Made in Chelsea, and having unfortunately been one of the millions of people to have jumped onto the Fifty Shades hype, I am not one of those intellectual snobs, but I do still find it interesting to hear people wax lyrical about how intellectually superior they are to their peers. 20th century writer and satirist, Aldous Huxley believed that 99.5% of the planet were ‘stupid and Philistine’, and believed that the arts should only be available to members of an intellectual elite like himself. This isn’t an opinion held only by Huxley. As an English Literature student, I am constantly exposed to people criticising modern literature, saying that the only books worth reading are the classics, and don’t get me started on music snobs, who believe that anything remotely popular is for ‘plebs’.

Perhaps, in years gone by, when the working classes literally lived to work in mills and factories, with barely any time to sleep, television shows such as TOWIE would not have been so popular, but in today’s society when an 8 hour working day is seen as more than enough, can we really be surprised that the working classes choose to watch trash TV rather than read a Richard Dawkins’ book? Not everybody wants to concern themselves with politics and science. Some people are more bothered about putting food on the table than admiring an unmade bed just because somebody has called it “modern art”, and if all they have to look forward to each week is a ‘messy’ Friday night on the town then so be it.

I don’t want to sound overly Marxist because, believe it or not, I’m not even remotely left-wing, but why is it so surprising to us that people use trash TV and gossip rags to escape from the harsh realities of life? If I had nothing more to my life than a repetitive nine to five job and had to wake up at 7am every morning just to get rained on and caught in traffic, I’d want some glittery escapism too.

Look at the punk rock movement. People everywhere escaping the mundaneness of life by throwing everything away in favour of a lifestyle packed with sex and drugs. Even reggae is a form of escapism, with the most mainstream artists such as Bob Marley advising listeners to “emancipate yourselves from mental slavery”. Whether people like it or not, unless you’re born with a silver spoon in your mouth and a pair of Jimmy Choos on your feet, life isn’t always an easy ride and there will always be music and television shows that offer some comfort. Perhaps artists like Ke$ha and Lady Gaga, who tell us to forget all our worries and “Just Dance” are perhaps just what is needed in a society where riots, debts and wars are there winking at us as soon as we turn on the news.