By Deogracia William A. Bemida | Feature Writer
Vol. XCI No. 7
Sept. 13, 2019
Have you uttered discouraging words to someone smarter than you out of envy? How did it feel on your part? Did it boost your morale? If yes, congratulations! You ruined someone’s confidence and slimmed the chance for that person to share better ideas in the future.
Smart shaming is defined as the act of humiliating an intelligent person. Basically, this exhibits the manner of anti-intellectualism as this embraces the negative view of being intelligent. Here in the Philippines, smart shaming is slowly rising since people may not be aware of committing this habit. Anyone can do this, and the possibility of hurting someone may happen anytime. The hostility towards smart individuals is proof of the lack of empathy and toxic attitude carried by the unhealthy society. This seems to promote the view that being smart is a negative trait, which poses a serious problem that needs to be fixed.
Smart shaming greatly affects the offended party. These people are viewed as haughty and their opinions are believed to be threats. People who commit this act downgrade themselves and make the other person feel arrogant for sharing information. The other person wants to make things clear by voicing out their ideas, but instead of getting praise, they end up receiving sarcastic remarks. The conversation goes strayed and meaningless since the person, not the argument, is being attacked.
Certain people embrace anti-intellectualism without them noticing; this is a reality that might be hard to digest. The truth is, the intellectual pursuit is devalued, and the knowledgeable ones are deemed as elitist. The worst-case scenario is that being ignorant is something to be proud of. Instead of enlightenment, people choose to avoid knowledge and listen to their insecurities by spouting harsh comments.
Learning is free and everyone is entitled to learn; the human race is dependent on knowledge so that they could face the harsh environment and fully survive. Knowledge is accessible to all people since intellectual freedom was made possible due to the efforts of the government to prioritize education, which means ignorance is not an excuse. Yet, why do people reject the value of intellectualism? In the first place, humans are rational beings as this factor separates them from other beings of earth, but this gift seems to be wasted because of the preference of anti-intellectualism.
The existence of smart shaming is a sign of a toxic environment. This social problem is pervasive and detrimental to self-worth as this inhibits further growth. To avoid receiving mockery from peers, keeping one’s mouth shut seems to be the best way to avoid rising conflicts. Whereas in reality, shared information is helpful; the manifestation of ideas and opinions matter and may count as a contribution to the betterment of all. The status quo of the society addresses this issue as a minor problem since it is viewed as harmless, but the negative remarks are painful which is comparable to a spear that pierces the recipient’s heart.
When an intellectual speaks, insecure people, on the other hand, will attack by poking fun, causing the former to remain silent and avoid the discussion. It is ironic to think that most Filipinos went to school and promote education, yet society seeks to make smart individuals outcasts and reject their ideas even though they are relevant points. The biggest problem lies in the mentality of toxic individuals. Sadly, the culture is slowly accepting this stigma and this may signify that people are getting dumb.
Most of the Philippine heroes are members of the educated class; their preference and value of education led them into greatness. One of them is the great Jose Rizal, who was well known for his novel Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and due to the publication of these books, he was arrested and persecuted because of exposing the abuses of colonial rulers. It is disappointing to know that the practice of anti-intellectualism is rooted since early times. Tyrant authorities would label the educated individual as a danger to the public and punish them due to their intellectual prowess.
Shattering this bad habit takes time and requires a lot of motivation. It’s not too late to move and inspire others to express their thoughts without fear of repression and rejection. Building a healthy conversation and appreciating the person who shared the information is a way of preventing smart shaming. Always remember to be proud of what you are, as being smart is a gift, not a curse. Be brave and stand for what you think is right.