Given the number of stupid, backward people in this world, it seems a little trite and unnecessary to single out and malign people who have made some sort of effort to be educated. However, I’m a trite and unnecessary man, and I’m a little perturbed by some of these people. Maybe they’re just a little green and assume they know more than they do, or they’re simply assholes, but either way, these people have many qualities that many would consider to be traits of a “smart” person. Nevertheless, they are dumb.
I have a lot of respect for people in graduate school. It takes a lot of balls to double down on student loans as an investment in your unstable future. Plus, I know that grad school is hard. You can get by on basically no studying and lots of binge drinking in undergrad, but in grad school, you actually have to stay up and crack some books. The binge drinking stays the same, obviously, because how the hell else are you going to wash away the mind-numbing day? The problem is that people in grad school simply aren’t being exposed to a lot of realities that their same age counterparts are out in the real world. Sure, learning about advanced economic forecasting models for your MBA is more intensive than doing repetitive and useless Excel sheets all day, but the difference is that repetitive and useless Excel sheets are the name of the game in corporate America. So while grad students are learning a lot of great theoretical knowledge, they’re not really being exposed to practical knowledge, even if that knowledge is simply learning how to determine which one of your bosses is cool with you smoking pot on your lunch break.
I’ve given Pitchfork a lot of grief in my tenure as a mostly unserious columnist, which might be a little unfair. Pitchfork, for the most part, is made up of people who love music and just want to write about it. The reason Pitchfork and its music literati equivalents get on my nerves is more because of the type of readers the site attract. Your average music writer might be a music lover, but the average reader is a music douche. There are two types of people who read music criticism: those who want a more nuanced opinion of music and are looking to expand their taste, and those who have their mind already made up and are looking for ammunition to fire in their echo chamber of douchery. These people might have a lot of “complex” opinions about a lot of different types of music, but it feels like most of them are missing the point. Music is about listening to what you like and always looking to find new things to like, not about feeling superior because of the things you like, especially if you’re only liking them for the sole purpose of superiority.
Lower-Level English Teachers
Maybe all of my friends I’ve ever talked to and I are the exception, but it feels like lower-level high school English teachers are all idiots. My AP teachers were great, but my freshman and sophomore teachers knew about as much about literature as Teddy, the guy I washed golf carts with on the weekends (Teddy was a fucking moron). Talking to friends who went to different high schools seems to support that this was not an isolated problem. See, English teachers who teach middle school do so on purpose, but people who want to teach high school English tend to be placed where their experience and ability best fits. This means your freshman and sophomore classes are usually taught by really young teachers or really bad teachers. While they might have a master’s degree and a teaching certificate, they’re often going to spend an entire day explaining the nonexistent symbolism of something in the book the state has assigned you. I swear to God, if I hear another theory on what Fitzgerald was trying to say through the shirts Gatsby throws on the bed, I will defecate on his fucking grave. Sorry Francis, I know it’s not your fault.
People who spend a lot of time online want you to believe that they’re smarter than the average person. And you know what? They’re right. They tend to statistically be a lot more tech savvy, well-read, and intelligent than the general population. The only problem with that is that they know it, and that leads to issues. A person is never as dumb as he is dumb–a person is as dumb as the gap between how smart he is and how smart he thinks he is, and boy, do internet jackasses think they’re smart. They’re a bunch of desperate dudes with varyingly low levels of social skills who think women are inferior because they don’t see their potential, and that they know more about monetary and fiduciary policy than most economists, because they read a couple of blogs about the gold standard. They might be smarter than your average Kevin, but they’re still their own, special kind of idiots.