Uuuuuugh I was trying to read a new romance and immediately had to stop because it was doing the Thing, the “big vocabulary = genius” and “geniuses are better than other people” thing.
Look, you know who gets really invested in being an Official Genius ™? People who feel like they don’t have anything else. If the best thing about you is how smart you are, what does that say about your relationships, your creativity, your purpose in life? I used to cling to being smart like a life-raft. I used it as an excuse not to deal with my anxiety disorder. I didn’t need to leave the house or talk to strangers, they wouldn’t understand me anyway. I was smug and condescending about my grammar and punctuation. It got me nothing worth having.
Hiding behind your IQ is cowardly. Unless you do something with it, you’re like those car collectors that just keep beautiful cars in a garage and never drive them. Going to grad school and med school, being around people who self-select and are selected to be very smart, being around people who are measurably, objectively, smarter than me, was very good for me. Because there are people who are smarter than me and better than me at all those things I sneered at or wrote off–better at communication, building relationships, being thoughtful and kind. I couldn’t pretend that the things that made me sharp-edged and unpleasant were just about intelligence. It was me, it was my learned behaviors.
I’m not what I want to be, but I’m a lot closer to it than my parents, who still treat IQ as the be-all end-all of human worth.
Which is why I’ve gone from loving the asshole genius trope to finding it repellant. It’s not the genius that makes them an asshole. It’s being an asshole. In real life, people like Dr. House or BBC’s Sherlock would be unendurably irritating. I have no interest in being subjected to shitty behavior from someone who thinks they’re above the rest of us because they’re smart.