I’m standing in front of a stack of books. It’s a book fair. Lots and lots of books. Lots of people pretending to like them. This pretty girl walks up to me. “Excuse me, do you work here?” Maybe I’m under-dressed. She wants a book. She says with a wrinkle of her nose, “I don’t like romance”. “There’s nothing wrong with romance”, I counter. “I know, but it’s just so shallow and unreal”. I take her to James Joyce and Camus. She nods with her head at the book; pretending to like it. I remember when my mom used to force me to eat my vegetables. She’s force-feeding herself literature the same way.
Later that evening, a few friends come to visit. All guys. Very soon we’re talking about parties, girls and football. Now that C. Ronaldo has won the Ballon D’Or, it’s all boys talk about. Another friend comes to visit. A girl. She comes in, says “Hi”. Everyone is nice. Her key-holder is a Rubik’s cube. I can feel the air change. Grow colder. All of a sudden, it’s a competition. The cube passes from hand to hand boys competing to solve it.
Geek is in. Google just bought Nest, a tech startup for $3.2bn. Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, all geeks made good. All of a sudden, it’s cool to be smart, cue the pretentiousness. Boys playing chess, speaking Spanish, reading Kafka, listening to rock. TV series like Sherlock Holmes, Suits, Da Vinci’s Demons and House promote the stereotype of the arrogant, rude jerk who’s only redeeming attribute is having an IQ higher than the sum of everyone else in the room’s.
It really isn’t that hard to pretend to be smart. Learn chess, it’ll take about 5 minutes. Pretend to like rock. You can pretend Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne are rock stars to ease you in. Carry Shakespeare around with you. One thing you need to remember is that it doesn’t really help you in anyway. You won’t actually be smarter. People will just think you are and one day you’ll be required to act your IQ.
God help you then.