On hating smart people

Last year, I was talking with an upperclassman about a someone whom I considered a genius.

She kept affirming that he/she was super awkward, while I kept saying, “not really…” Then she offered this explanation to someone listening in on our conversation.

“To Amy, intelligence is unfairly weighted. Like, if someone’s smart, nothing else matters.”

I was going to defend myself, but then I stopped. Because it was true.

I have an overwhelming respect for people that are smart, to the extent that I find it nearly impossible to dislike them regardless of what they do outside of academics. In general, I consider any hatred I have as misdirected jealousy.

I had a really long battle in my head once about whether it was valid to hate arrogant people who were smarter than me. My final conclusion was, “You don’t have the right to hate them, but you have the right to like them more if they don’t brag.”

When I told a friend a few weeks ago that I was planning on writing a post about “hating smart people, she immediately said something along the lines of, “Yeah, it’d actually be really interesting to see what you think. It annoys me when people talk about how their grades are so bad when they’re great in comparison to mine.” If only I had that problem.

It’s not that I dislike stupid people. I feel like the fundamental societal flaw is that we’re unable to relate with one another, and I hate elitism. However, I tend to gravitate towards smart people in my classes, partially out of respect and partially because I need help sometimes.

On having a smart identity

My friend  told me about someone she met who couldn’t stand getting a 4 on the AP World History exam because that meant “25% of people did better than [him].” While that was a pretty jerkish thing to say, I had a bit of empathy for him , and this is what I said.

“If you’ve been told your entire life by adults and your peers and standardized tests that you’re smart, you start to believe it and let it be part of your identity–being smart–and when you get that taken away from you…you don’t really know what you’re left with.”

For the most part, I’ve always considered myself a relatively smart person, at least in a narrow academic sense, and I’m pretty sure this arrogance shows through sometimes.

I screamed when I realized that I wasn’t in the top 2.5% scorers on the AMC 10 as a freshmen, meaning that I hadn’t qualified for the next stage of tests. (Amy didn’t make the AIME is still the joke of Math Club) Math competitions are the major perpetuaters of these identity crises, my major wake up calls. Who am I to joke about math when the people around me have probably put in thousands more hours doing math than I have?

Most people think that Confucian values are centered around good good study, day day up, study hard, get good grades, etc. In reality, they’re more oriented around being a good person, or rather, how to “be a person.” Working hard is merely one aspect. Humility, filial piety, and other traditionally Asian values tie in here as well. Raw intelligence isn’t everything.

…What am I writing.

9 thoughts on “On hating smart people

  1. Pingback: Dissecting Middle School | Educated Opinions

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