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There Are Different Types of Intelligence

I've valued "being smart" and "being right" pretty much all of my life. This stems from being a clever child who was praised, for the most part, for being inquisitive. The handful of times that I can recall adults being angry with me for asking questions are still colored with trauma and confusion.

It lead, in my teens and twenties, to the particular brand of arrogance that smart kids get: the disgust for the "stupid people" all around the world. There sure as hell seem to be more of them than there are of us, after all.

That disgust never quite sit well with me, however.

You see, for as much as I am a misanthrope and pessimist I'm also someone who--deep down--believes that everyone is just trying their best with what they have to work with. Okay. Not everyone. There are just enough cynical, sociopathic schemers to make the world a living hell.

But this isn't about them. This is about the "stupid people" and learning that they're not stupid so much as that they see the world through a different toolset.

Occasionally one friend or acquaintance will trash talk another for being dumb. Questioning what it is I see in that person. I'm fairly confident that happens somewhere in the world about me, so said talk prompts a more sympathetic reaction in me.

Yet it also triggers the question. One I've been wrestling with.

The answer I've come up with is this: there are different types of intelligence.

We peoples of the Internet readily accept academic credentials, wit, book smarts, and keen argumentative skills as marks of intelligence. This is a trait we inherit from our geekly ancestors, who delight in rabbinical arguments over such questions as who would win in a fight between Superman and The Hulk. Endless debates that are as unanswerable as the question of how many angels can fit on a head of a pin.

What we peoples of the Internet don't jibe with so well are things like kinesthetic awareness. Many of us have a shaky relationship with social graces, some are blind to emotional empathy. All of these things are not reflected in the code that created the "space" that you are reading this missive "in" right now.

These qualities are reflected in the world that the Internet grew in, however. More importantly it is far too easy to dismiss these less verbal, not-entirely-linear, forms of intelligence in favor of words, words, words.

Words are liars, however, and one is better off remembering that every damn minute of the day.

Next time you are tempted to label someone stupid try, instead, to ask the question: how are they smart? You might just get some insight into where that "idiot" is coming from, and maybe--just maybe--a way to communicate with them that isn't fully dumb in both of your eyes.