What I was aiming at was that people tend to look at language learning as something hard and thus refuse to go through it.
Language learning is
hard. And it makes perfect sense to refuse to submit to it if you judge that the ultimate benefits do not outweigh the huge amount of sustained effort it will take to succeed.
If a language seems hard let's learn one that is easier. For and English speaker that would be Spanish or French (just counting those more international ones and which the bulk of the Anglophone population is familiar with). People prefer what seems easier to them over what seems more complex, from the starting point of their own language(s).
Again, I would say they are quite rational to do so. If you're only learning a language because the educational system requires you to do so, what sense does it make to choose the hardest among the alternatives?
Remember, every hour you spend learning a language is an hour you don't have to learn software engineering or ballroom dancing or shred guitar or any of the dozens of other things which may interest you. None of these things are easy to master and preferring one to another isn't a sign of low intelligence or low ambition.
I don't like this practice and I don't really know but does this in a way show the signs of a society in which education and learning is not valued enough and only continues with the dumbing-down of people that already know little about other things and not just languages.
If anything, I think it demonstrates that people can be sharper when it comes to identifying their own best interests than so-called experts with a vastly different set of priorities.
From a rational point of view, it would be far better for me to learn Japanese than any of the last half dozen other languages I've studied. It would be directly relevant to my daily work in a way that these other languages are not. But Japanese doesn't appeal to me, so I resist learning it. It doesn't have much to do with how "difficult" it is--Literary Chinese is no cakewalk either--but with my personal interests and desires.