Advertisements

Common Sense: Genius, Dressed Up in Its Working Clothes

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about common sense.

Like, some people have this in spades, and some people – well, they just don’t. And I guess sometimes, depending on the person, that’s cute. You know, like some people, you’re all, “Aw! That’s so Raven,” or whatever. And sometimes you want to kick them in the head and tell them to smarten up, because survival of the fittest, bucko, go for a long walk in the woods and don’t bring a compass and I hear there are bears because you’re really too dumb to live.

I think I kind of fall in the middle. About most things, I am eminently practical. I inherited a very common-sensical gene from both parents. They don’t see a lot of magic, my parents, in things. They see things as they are. If there is a problem: how can they solve it, or, if it can’t be solved, that is too bad about that problem. I got a lot of that from them.

Then somehow I got, also, this weird insane throwback hippie gene where some people would see a tree and I’d see a magic portal into another universe, and who knows where that came from. I can’t explain that one. No one on either side of my family is really all that prone to flights of fantasy. I blame too many books as a child. Well, not “blame.” It’s not a blame-thing. Can you even imagine how boring life would be if you DIDN’T look at a cat and imagine it wearing a little suit of clothing and a mustache every once and a while? SO boring, is the answer.

Now, I am not qualified to get all Heinakroon on you, because he’s a hell of a lot smarter than I am, and I think if I tried to get all sciency, I’d sound like I was speaking gibberish, but apparently, those of us (own horn, toot toot, sorry) with high IQ’s are predisposed to override our common sense when making decisions. There are those of us who are able to do both, but apparently we’re a “rare breed of genius.” I can only do both SOME of the time. I’m an OCCASIONAL rare breed of genius, I guess.

Now, that’s nice, and, in my life, having known a lot of very intelligent people (like calls to like, I think, and I really enjoy the company of intelligent people, because what the hell do I have to talk about with people who are dummies? Nothing, is what) I have to agree with this, for the most part – we do some really, really boneheaded things, from time to time. The statement “For such a smart person, that was a really dumb move” comes up a lot in reference to both myself and my friends. You know, like a “headdesk” moment, if you’re internet-savvy? It’s a total headdesk moment. I’m not saying we have them ALL THE TIME. Just more than you’d think a person should. It’s not that we’re dumb, I don’t think. It’s that we have a LOT ON OUR MINDS. And that we’re really busy using up those brain cells for other things, so we do things like fall down staircases, or drive into signposts, or file an entire cart of files incorrectly, or something along those lines. Not that any of those things have happened to me. Those were PURELY HYPOTHETICAL THINGS.

But not everyone is this absent-minded professor type. I mean, MOST people aren’t this absent-minded professor type, right? I mean, I looked this up, and the average person has an IQ of about 100, and that’s like, middle-of-the-road IQ. That’s like the normal-person IQ. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, people with this IQ! That’s perfectly acceptable! It is JUST A NUMBER! Anyway, so that’s the average person, and they’re not all brilliant and shit. So what the hell’s wrong with them and why don’t they have any common sense?

Things that have confused me lately that seem to be total common sense:

  • People not looking, like, at ALL, when they drive, so there are a lot of people getting hit and killed in crosswalks, and then they interview the driver and the driver’s all “I didn’t even SEE her!” and they interview a bystander and the bystander’s all “Um, the pedestrian was wearing hot pink and waving a huge flag, I don’t know how the driver missed her.” Common sense thing: LOOKING BEFORE YOU DRIVE THROUGH A CLEARLY MARKED CROSSWALK, you’re driving a CAR, for the love of Pete
  •  People being confused when their identity is stolen, but they say things like “but that person seemed totally trustworthy that I MET ONLINE so I gave them my Social Security number.” Common sense thing: Realizing that the internet is where liars live, and not trusting anyone there with anything too important, like your social security number, your home address, your date of birth, or the location of where you’ve buried your gold bricks.
  • Calling your doctor’s office/garage/HVAC technician’s office at 5:30 pm on a Saturday and being both confused AND upset they’re not open. Common sense thing: Have you heard the term “business hours?” Yep. So have BUSINESSES.
  • Getting really pissed at “the man” for things that are your fault: speeding tickets, parking tickets, tickets for not moving over for emergency vehicles, etc. Common sense thing: You know the damn law, and if you don’t, you shouldn’t be driving, really. You agreed to follow the law when you got behind the wheel. Who likes tickets? No one. But you played, so now you pay, Jackass Jones. That isn’t the cop’s fault, as much as they annoy me sometimes, too. They have a job to do, same as you do, whatever your job is, being entitled, or whatever. Your best revenge? Don’t give them a REASON to ticket you. Then they leave EMPTY-HANDED. Muah-hah-hah.
  • Getting to the register at a store after waiting in a long line and taking an hour to get out your money, your credit card, your store rewards card, your coupons, whatever. Common sense thing: YOU HAD SO MUCH TIME WHILE YOU WERE WAITING. Why didn’t you use your time productively? Listen, at any given time? I’m doing like SEVENTEEN THINGS. I don’t think I haven’t been multitasking once for the past YEAR. I’m usually even doing something while I SLEEP. You can’t be bothered to pull out your money while you wait in line? You know what that says to me? “You, people behind me, and you, person behind the register, your TIME, it means NOTHING to me. I am Oz! The Great and Terrible! And all you are is dust in the wind!” Eff you, babe.
  • And don’t even get me started about relationships. They’re tougher, because common sense totally goes out the window when sex gets thrown in the mix (see Heinakroon’s post about sexy monkeys if you want more information on this, because, as stated, he’s sciency and I’m just rambly) and I get it, it’s tough when your penis or vagina are doing the thinking for you. I get it. I do. They are LOUD TALKERS and use ANIMATED HAND GESTURES and it’s VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO IGNORE THEM. I am not exempt, my little tomatillos. But sometimes don’t you just want to shake someone – or, hell, YOURSELF, when it’s a relationshippy thing and it’s stupid and it’s common-effing-SENSE that it’s bad news or the same shit over and over and yet you or the person who’s come to you for advice or whoever the person in question is just keeps dorby-dorbing forward, ignoring the “caution!” and the “dropoff ahead” and the “DANGER WILL ROBINSON” signage? Common sense thing: Shit, I don’t know. Don’t get into relationships would seem to be the answer, but that’s just sad. Avoid assholes? How about avoid assholes. There. That’ll be easy, right? RIGHT. Sigh.

There are millions more. MILLIONS more. Like, more than I even care to THINK about, more. I mean, that’s what the Darwin Awards are about every year, right? Like, common sense things? And people dying because they don’t have any? Common sense, I mean?

So what’s going on, exactly? Is it that we all have a million things on our minds, and we’re all so distracty that common sense goes right out the window? Is it that we’re so all self-entitled that we just don’t give a shit about anyone else’s comfort, or time, or, in some extreme cases, people’s LIVES, so it’s not so much that we’re not using our common-sense-bones, it really has nothing to do with common sense at all, it’s just rudeness, pure and simple, we just don’t give a shit because it’s ALL ABOUT US ALL THE TIME? I’m completely serious. @heinakroon! You need to be sciency about this, because I don’t have that kind of brain. I’m not saying I was BAD in science, I was actually very GOOD in science, but this is already too long and it’s making my head hurt. You’re good at making things organize-y. ORGANIZE THIS FOR ME @HEINAKROON.

As for me, I’m going to be 85% practical and 15% seeing sparkly things in the clouds, which seems like a decent mix, overall? Because we all need a little magic. But also, I think we need some hard-headed practicality, because it’s the practical people who are getting shit done while the sparkly rainbow magic people are riding invisible unicorns, you know?

And I’m going to look out for signposts and try not to drive into them this year, because those things come out of NOWHERE sometimes. Damn, yo.

(Title from a Ralph Waldo Emerson quote. I’m on a poet kick! No, I do NOT recommend you kick a poet. STOP KICKING POETS.)

Advertisements

About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

30 responses to “Common Sense: Genius, Dressed Up in Its Working Clothes

  • Bronwyn Kelly

    i’ve definitely had the “you’re the dumbest smart person i KNOW” comment thrown at me, for sure… o.O
    it’s hard to focus on one thing (you know, like walking without tripping and falling) when i have a bazillion things going on in my mind! but yes… i really do try to be extra-focus-y when i’m driving.

    and you know what? even if common sense sometimes falls by the way-side, common COURTESY never should! :P :D

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      Agreed about the courtesy. There’s only so far I can argue it away with “they were just not using their common sense” and start thinking “they’re just a complete asshat.”

      I think that’s what it is with most of my friends – we just have so much in our minds at any given time, we tend to drop things/trip/forget commonplace things, etc. Not stupidity! BRILLIANCE! :)

      Like

  • Elizabeth

    I used to always say that my head was like a huge filing cabinet and sometimes things got misfiled because there was so much stuff in it. That’s why I sometimes say things incorrectly or run into things. If other people had as much going on in their heads as I do, they’d run into stuff too.

    Genius needs the fantasy. It’s how the brain escapes from the practical as far as I’m concerned. That and ranting at how other people can be so SLOOOOW sometimes.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I have that filing cabinet, too! I’m totally the absent-minded professor sometimes. I’m very bruisey from the desks that come up and attack me on a regular basis!

      I love that genius needs the fantasy. I’m going to use that in the future, you watch!

      Like

  • lynnettedobberpuhl

    One day, I was washing out a big heavy frying pan in which I had made goulash. It looked clean and felt clean, but I could still smell goulash, so I washed it again. It was my last dish and I really wanted to be done so I could get onto smart person stuff. I grasped the handle and lifted the pan to my face for another smell-check, and there was a little momentum going and I thought, “good Lord, I think that is going to hit me in the…Gonnngggg!” Yes. Hit myself in the face with a frying pan. I know the common name for an aubergine and the actual dimensions of a 2×4 board; I rock the board games, but I am deathly (haha) afraid of winning a Darwin Award. Although, since I have already reproduced, sorry, evolution, the damage is done.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I can commiserate with ALL of this. I cut/bang/injure myself regularly, doing normal-person things. I’m just clutzy. And I rush a lot, getting on to other smart-person things. :)

      Like

  • renni

    There are things I know, and there are things I do not know… — John From Cincinnati (the TV show, not me)

    Like

  • renni

    When I was a kid, people kept asking me “How did you know that?” It took me a while to figure out, this was because they all thought I was slow. So maybe it takes me a while, so what? Numbers mean nothing to me, but tell me “A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why!” and I’ll remember that! :}

    Like

  • Rich Crete

    Wow. You hit on a great question here. I wish I had an answer. Guess I’ll wait for Heinakroon, too.
    One of the most book smart people I know has used up so many of his brain cells retaining “important” shit like say…the date of and the reason for the Battle of Hastings, he doesn’t have enough cells left for common sensey things like say…showering frequently enough.
    IQ be damned. Give me someone who knows when to bathe. (always)

    Like

  • lahikmajoe

    Can I just be really honest about how many things distracted me while I was just getting to the bottom of this post? And I’m a totally sold customer. I like your blog, comment when I can remember to, joke with you about being a secret sibling…if I can’t focus all the way through, what does that say?

    It’s not for lack of interesting content. There’s always interesting content. For me personally, I think the skill we need to learn (even more than at other times in our history) is to really focus. What’re my priorities? Am I actually living as if those priorities are in fact prioritised? Well?

    I read something last year (I hope @heinakroon backs me up on this) that our brain really can’t do more than one thing at a time. When we think we’re multi-tasking, we’re actually doing two or more things poorly.

    Knowing that in theory and actually changing my behaviour are two very distinct things. Here’s to focus in 2012.

    Like

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    Wow. I mean: wow. This post is asking a very profound question.

    It’s one of the truly big mysteries: why don’t we use our fancy big brains? I mean, what’s the point of evolving to this level of intelligence and then fall back on the limbic reptile brain for living your life? Because we all got common sense. That’s why it’s called ‘common’ after all. So why aren’t we using it? Complacency? Laziness? Fuel economy?

    Ah, yes. That’s it: fuel economy. Our brains are extremely expensive to run. The mileage is just horrible. So we’ve evolved this ‘Green drive’-mode where we only use a fraction of the power during everyday activities. It’s based on assumptions of consistency regarding our environment and prejudice regarding people we meet.

    That way we don’t have to think about things and we can go about our business using a dumbed down (but cheap) autopilot. But this means common sense goes or the window. And we turn into stupid racist limbic robots, never thinking about things and only reacting emotionally in every situation. Rinse and repeat.

    I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hijack this post with my evergrowing comment (in fact, this comment is quickly turning into an unfinished post I was going to call ‘The limbic society’). I’ll stop now. But let me finish with saying that I totally agree with you, Amy. It drives me insane as well. Bloody humans!

    Like

    • Rich Crete

      Using a dumbed down autopilot sounds like a polite way of saying the dude has shit for brains.

      Like

    • lucysfootball

      I love this comment. See, world? This is Andreas, and he is SCIENCY.

      So that’s what it is – do you think intelligence plays a part? More intelligent people tend to turn it off more than less intelligent ones? Although the common-sense thing really seems to cross all intelligence borders. There are both professor types and sawmill workers (just an analogy, I’m not implying people who work in sawmills are bleeding idiots) tripping over poorly-tied shoelaces all over the world, I’m sure.

      Like

      • Andreas Heinakroon

        No, I don’t think it relates directly to the level of intelligence, I think it’s a common human trait. Regardless of our IQ score, our brains are expensive to use.

        (And whilst on the topic of IQ and intelligence, I’m not particularly intelligent; I have a fairly standard IQ score and wasn’t all that successful in school or at university. But: I’m interested in learning new things, which compensates nicely for my lack of extraordinary intelligence. Curiosity rules!)

        Like

        • lucysfootball

          Doing well in school, to me, doesn’t = intelligence. Some of the most intelligent people I know did poorly in school – often because they were bored & unchallenged. I think you’re one of the most intelligent people I know! And my opinion = golden. You can take that to the bank! :)

          Like

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    And a pipe. The cat would SO be smoking a pipe. You know, like Sherlock Holmes.

    Like

  • Andreas Heinakroon

    Don’t even get me started on the whole ‘internet stole my identity’-thing! I mean, COME ON! If something looks too good to be true, you know what? It’s probably too good to be true. It’s just common sens.. Oh. Damn.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      People are so sure they’re the ONLY ONES who stumbled onto the get-rich-quick scheme, the hot chick or guy, the good shopping deal…there are millions of us on the internet. You’re never the first, I promise you. And I reiterate: the internet is where liars live.

      Like

  • Anonymous

    We’ve become a society of narcissists; entitled and unwilling to see anything past our own noses.
    I like your ratio; especially the sparkly part. I wear a bracelet 24/7 (OK, except for when I go through airport security because apparently my metal bracelet could be key in bringing down a 747 jumbo jet) that reads “Faith•Trust•Pixie-Dust” which, for me is the 3 things I need to get through day by day. The Pixie Dust is the sparkly part; the magic. I think if more people mixed a bit more sparkly pixie dust into their oh-so-important lives, we’d be a much improved society.

    Like

  • MsDarkstar

    Many years ago I was visiting a friend who had been involuntarily committed to a psych ward. What landed him in there was suicidal depression. He was exceptionally intelligent and said to me “Sometimes I wish I was stupid so I wouldn’t know how damn much there is to be depressed about”… I’ve thought about that many times over the years usually when people who normally view me as “JUST a secretary” finally figure out that I am smarter than their college-educated minds can reconcile. If I had a dollar for every time someone has said to me “but, if you’re so damn smart, why don’t you have a degree?” I would be able to finance a college education. And really, I think that while I do have a higher than average IQ, that my perceived “intelligence” is actually common sense which is perceived by those who LACK common sense as being intelligent when really, it’s a whole different thing. Because I have known absolutely BRILLIANT people who have not one iota of common sense.

    However, my common sense fails me in the romance department. Over and over again. It’s like I have some sort of primal hormonal override switch in my brain and when I see a particular (read: THE WORST POSSIBLE PERSON FOR ME) type of man, I fall in love and then when I get kicked to the curb I sit around wondering “What just happened here” like Wile E. Coyote after the latest Acme product mishap.

    Like

    • lucysfootball

      I have said that very thing, a number of times, to a number of people. That, wouldn’t it just be easier, sometimes, to be stupid? Then you wouldn’t know things – what you were missing, what there was to be depressed about, how bad off you were in situations, say, monetarily, romantically, etc., how awful the world was…but I always come back to how much I love my brain, and how amazing it is, and all the things it can do, and all the places it has taken (and, hopefully, will take!) me, and I think, oh, well, Amy, that’s your tradeoff.

      AND, listen, you’re the smart one, for NOT going to college. I’m doing the same job, but also paying back more student loans than a house would cost. Not even kidding. I think the smart people in the world are the ones who DIDN’T go to college.

      And I’m right there with you in the romance department. If they’re weird, unavailable, unable to commit, seem normal but are hiding some unspeakable brokenness – yep, that’s the one I want, no question. My brain’s all, “THIS IS A TOTAL MISTAKE” and I tell it to shh, every single time. I’m the girl in the romantic comedy everyone hates and wants to fall in a well so she’ll get off the screen.

      Like

  • elaine4queen

    i can’t even bear watching tv or films where someone has a conversation with a passenger in a car and looks at them. it’s hardly ever a plot point, so the fact that i am on the edge of the sofa digesting my own intestines is entirely beside the point.

    guess what i am like as a passenger?

    Like

%d bloggers like this: