A very rough draft of a paper I’m working on

2 10 2006

Why is it that intelligent people are criticized for being intelligent? If an intelligent person decides to incorporate an idea, symbol, or concept into their life or personality, why do people that don..t understand it think that the intelligent person is being condescending, pompous, or big-headed?

Why must this intelligent person be forced to adapt to idiots in order to fit in with everybody else? Back in the day, intelligence was seen as a positive trait. The term ..village idiot.. has a negative connotation. Notice how there is no counterpart for an intelligent person. You never hear about the “village intellectual,” because it was thought that the idiot should have been in the minority, while everybody else at least tried to be somewhat intelligent.
You can see the reverse of this attitude everywhere these days. Children and young adults are acting dumb so as not to seem intelligent. Half of the words that come out of their mouths are “I don’t know.” The really sad part is that they do know, they just don’t want to admit the answer and reveal that they might know something about anything that’s not socially relevant.

The big question is, of course, when did this trend in false ignorance start to emerge? Since the advent of computer technology, the individuals that began to embrace these machines were quickly singled out. Nerds, dorks, dweebs, techies, etc. The divergence between smart people and those that choose to ignore the option of being smart begun.

Movies such as ..Revenge of the Nerds.. showcased such a division on the big screen, featuring the Nerds ultimately conquering the Jocks by using their wits. While this certainly shows Nerds in a positive way, featuring the jocks as the antagonists, the basic themes of the movie seemed to translate to mainstream society in an undesirable way. It was cool to be cool, and being a nerd was still uncool.

Going back farther, the attitudes towards seemingly divergent social groups among the younger generations. The movie “Animal House” featured a common college during the 1960’s, before computer technology was available to the general public. Delta House, the fraternity of the “good guys,” (despite them being the underdogs of the campus) came out on top in the end of the film. This fraternity consists of a variety of young men, some of which would today in modern times be divided into “jocks”or “nerds.” Despite their social differences, they are all part of one house, not divided but united under a common enemy. Even without the common enemy, they would still be united. The acceptance of the Flounder character into Delta House shows that a proto-nerd would be accepted among the popular crowd of non-nerds.

It would seem that without the advent of computers, young people were all forced to have similar interests, and any divergent cultures (beatnicks, hippies, etc) were not rejected, but simply classified as counter-culture and left at that. The question of intelligence was not a factor among school social stratification.

So why is it that computers created such a rift in America..s youth starting in the late 1970..s? How does this pattern apply to modern society, one where computers are commonplace and becoming increasingly relevant and necessary to daily life?

It that very statement that is the reason for the decline in the positive view of intelligence. Since computers are no longer a mystery to todays younger generations, they cannot become the focal point of ridicule. Every jock knows how to use a computer, so a new point of discrimination was needed. Using left over tactics from the computer revolution, the new determining factor in mockery became intelligence.

This of course leads to a classic power struggle. Fear among the ..elite.. is generated for things that may overpower or overtake their social position. In this case, intelligence is feared. Those in power realize that they could be as intelligent as anybody, but if they fail, they themselves would be the focus of derision. Therefore, attempts are made to keep themselves and those around them seem unintelligent, making a point to place a negative connotation on intelligence and those that possess it.

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