Reading the title of this article may lend you to believe that there are more incompetent people being born in the world and they are dominating jobs, places of power and various parts of our lives. That's not quite accurate. The major part of the equation is that we are tending the fertile ground of incompetence by creating the right circumstances for it to grow. There are three major factors contributing to what is being perceived as the unmasking and support for incompetence. Those factors are the worship of wealth, the growth of the cult of personality via social media and the war on facts and knowledge.
"Rich people are smarter than the rest of us". There's no doubt that there are rich people who are smart, just as there are those living in poverty who are genius. But a collective leap in logic has started to predominate cultures around the world when people come to the conclusion that people are rich because they are smart. In social caste systems where social mobility is being thwarted by systemic racism, sexism and classism, many really smart and insightful people simply can't get out of their station in life. On the other side, terribly incompetent people are often advanced in responsibility and duty in society simply because they have a lot of money. Over a period of time, this myth of rich people being smarter than the rest of us starts to develop it's own religion. People start to believe it as a truth. We'll say things like "he must be smart, he's rich", or "he knows more than I do because he's richer than I".
"She's popular so she much be smart". We have developed a belief system that says known people are smarter than the rest of us. Thus, there are people in our society who make an entire living simply for being known. Being known is not the same as competence. It's not that the two don't intersect regularly (known people who are smart and competent), but using popularity as a metric for competence and intelligence is false. Social media has made this false practice a regular part of our daily workings. Thus, we often put known people in positions (ie: commenting on world affairs or personal advice) that they are not capable of being able to address coherently.
"Smart people think they're better than us". Somewhere over the years, we decided to wage war on smart, competent people. We made education and intelligence the enemy and started calling learned people "elites". Once you start making the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom culturally unacceptable, incompetent people fill the leadership void and become heroes. We no longer make becoming smart, competent and insightful an aspirational goal. Incompetent people can rule the day simply by doing and saying incompetent things. "They speak their mind", or "he speaks like me" or "he tells the truth" are ways we rationalize disjointed and dishonest conversations from incompetent people. Some of this comes from our desire to find a relatable champion who seems to know and understand our experiences. The other part of it is intellectual laziness, where we simply don't want to do our homework.
The hope here is that there is not a mass uprising of incompetent people. It is not consistent with a "zombie apocalypse" where incompetent people rise from the grave to take over the world. On the contrary. They only advance if we allow that to happen, which means we hold the key to the kind of people we want running our society and our world. My suggestions are the following:
1. Take occasional social media breaks to take the power of incompetent people (popularity) away from them.
2. Leverage social media to do your homework on people who say they want to represent you.
3. Celebrate intelligence and competence in your social circles. Make it socially popular.
These may seem like simple remedies, but remember, we hold the key to the kind of leadership we deserve.
Chet W. Sisk is an author and one of the world's leading Social Futurists. He is also expert on the current world paradigm shift. Find out more about him and the LEAD Global Team at www.leadtheshift.com or you can write him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org