Twice today, I found myself arguing on the internet. I’m honestly ashamed that I allowed myself to get sucked into these arguments. I know the people I’m arguing with are uneducated; yet, I persist.
I guess it’s just in the make up of my personality. I enjoy actively learning from others. I love learning from experience. I suppose that’s what I miss most about academia. It wasn’t the conversations in class as much as the conversations we had at the bars, the coffee shops, the restaurants, and social gatherings.
I didn’t attend the best undergraduate or graduate schools, but at least there were educational experience and knowledge regurgitation thresholds that had to be met before someone went to school. Even if I didn’t take someone seriously, it would be very difficult to be dismissive of them. At the very least, I had to listen.
No such threshold exists on the internet. You can spot the idiots quickly when you troll the comments on websites like Huffington Post, Fark, Digg, CNN, ESPN, and Fox News. You can spot the idiots quickly on their own blogs. You can spot them quickly on your Facebook feed. God bless Twitter because Twitter made it easy to spot entire herds of idiots by checking the trending topics.
I suppose that’s why I miss the exclusivity of Facebook. When Facebook was only open to a number of universities, my friends abandoned MySpace en masse. We hated how trashy, mindless, and cluttered MySpace had gotten. Everyone could be on it, and we didn’t want to be friends with everyone.
I de-activated my Facebook recently in part because I felt like I could never say something without it possibly upsetting someone else and starting a ridiculous argument. I briefly got back on after Osama bin Laden’s death, and it was a right wing vs. left wing competition bukkake all over my Facebook feed.
I honestly feel like the final taboo frontier is intelligence. People have learned to handle discrimination by sexual orientation, race, economic status, social status, gender, physical make up… but society simply can’t handle discrimination by intelligence. Could we create news, sports, political, entertainment, etc. sites that require a certain threshold to participate in discussion? Of course not.
If we can accept some people are taller, are more athletic, have better hair, have better skin, etc., why can’t we accept that there are differences in the physical composition of our brains? We always find a way to blame it on something. We always find a way to make up excuses. People blame tests. People blame teachers. People blame society. It’s pathetic.
This does not mean certain lives are more or less valuable than others. As a human being, I feel that all life is of great value. Many different types of people are necessary for societies to function. That’s why I believe in the basic rights and freedoms that we enjoy as Americans. That’s why I believe in the United Nations upholding human rights. That’s why I believe those rights shouldn’t be violated as a result of discrimination.
I am not as smart as my sister. I know this for a fact. I don’t even have to make up excuses. I don’t blame my ADD. I don’t blame my inability to focus. Sure, I completely believe that the raw comprehension power of my brain is just as good as anyone in my family, but you know what? It’s like having a great engine in a shitty car. My sister has an ability to focus, stand on track, and take the breaks necessary to maintain high performance. I don’t. The net result is still the same. One child is a high achiever. The other child is a chronic underachiever.
I’m not angry or defensive about it. It is exactly what it is. To use a sports analogy, people used to say that Vince Carter was just as talented Michael Jordan, but honestly, he wasn’t. As Vince’s career has unfolded, his physical abilities weren’t additionally driven on by his mental desire. Michael Jordan had an intense competitive desire that permeated all of his actions. You can’t separate that mental focus from Jordan’s talent.
So why can’t people acknowledge other people are smarter? Why can’t people be separated by intelligence? Why can’t people just admit that decades of educational training of critical thinking skills: how to process, how to evaluate, how to reason, etc. results in a more intelligent person? It’s a trained muscle.
I really want to look at some people in the eye and say, “Your brother hangs out on the street. He is not street smart. Your friend isn’t more concerned with being happy. She just can’t get into college. Your daughter isn’t autistic. She’s just not that intelligent.”
Maybe the problem is just me. Maybe my puny brain needs to stop dwelling on the fact that some idiot didn’t understand my comment because he was never taught the grammatical concept of similes. Maybe I need to just read actual books more and deny myself the ridiculous stimulus that interaction with morons provides me. Then again, when all else is quiet, I’m generally left with the cacophony of voices of all my insecurities. That’s not much fun either.