Would you believe that being ‘smart’ isn’t the in-thing it used to be in not too distant past! I am not the only one who seems to have sensed it. Wear your thinking cap or glasses or shirt or whatever and you will get to feel it – ‘smart’ has ceased to be what most of us have grown working towards in our younger days!
Try telling a youngster to be smart and s/he is likely to yell back. Not sure if they have adequate justification for doing so but there ought to be some inexplicable reasons behind it. ‘You have to be smart, the easy days are gone’ is seemingly passé. No surprise, therefore, the present-day parents are less persuasive on their children to be ‘smart’.
Whether you doubt it or accept it, this change is right upon us. While the parents remain somewhat circumspect, youngsters are undoubtedly in awe of themselves. Loaded with self-belief (and lots of selfie), they go beyond the natural brashness of being young. They are no longer ‘windbags’ that many had thought of them in the past.
So much for the prevailing perception, let’s now get to the science behind it. Recent genetic research argues that humans have lost the evolutionary pressure to be ‘smart’. Having improved our existence by using our intelligence, from inventing the wheel to inventing fire, and from eradicating polio to inventing computer, there doesn’t seem much left for humans to get any further.
No wonder, smart people are known to make stupid mistakes while the stupid try to act smart. Not without reason are we advised to remember that it is always better to be wise than to be smart. Letting people think a little less of you is always helpful, one can get away with some silly stuff without it being counted against you.
So, there you are: ‘smart’ is no longer a virtue, being ‘dumb’ adds value to your profile. Simply put, dumb offer no threat to anybody as people avoid undermining their abilities. If they get anything ‘wrong’, they are excused for it. Don’t you find all kind of ‘dumb’ guys occupying various important positions in the society. George Bush had an average IQ and so have many others of his species.
It is better to be dumb when things around are becoming ‘smart’ – from smart phones to smart kitchens and from smarts cars to smart cities. And if that isn’t enough, the present political dispensation encourages people to be ‘dumb’. Let everything else be ‘smart’ but not the ‘people’. Amen!
(Dr. Sudhirendar Sharma is the Director of Ecological Foundation, New Delhi)