What It Means to Be Stupid.

It is often considered to be “politically incorrect” to say the word “stupid.” But I think it is high time for “stupid” to have a revival. The reason for “stupid” being considered a bad word is the idea that people can’t help being stupid. This is not true. Ignorance is something people can’t help, but that is different from “stupid.” Ignorance is a temporary condition, but real stupidity takes a commitment. Stupid people have chosen to be stupid, they live with a set of attitudes and habits which keep them in their own personal and perpetual hells. Let’s talk about some of what stupid is, by what stupid does.

Stupid Habit #1: Entitlement

Stupid people are entitled. I am not talking about welfare or government programs. I am talking about how they interact with the world. Stupid people don’t think they have any obligation to learn, understand, read, or educate themselves about the world around them. They believe that if it isn’t simple enough for them to understand, then it is too complicated. If it is not easy enough to use, then it is too hard. They never meet the world half-way, if the world doesn’t come to them, then they check out.

Stupid Habit #2: Separating Power From Responsibility

Stupid people love power, but hate responsibility. They love the safety of being in authority. When working through a problem or challenge, they don’t carry any burden of listening, communication, or teamwork. Instead, stupid people pull rank and say things like “I’m the boss!” or “I’m the head of this house!” or “I’ve got ____ years of experience and I know better than all of you!” They do not see leadership as a position of responsibility, but a position of leverage against others. They tear others down, and have no comprehension of how to encourage and build up others.

Stupid Habit #3: Confusing Opinions with Understanding

We all have opinions, but smart people know what an opinion is something you have only until you understand the facts. Stupid people are obsessed with their own opinion. They are personally offended when their opinion is questioned, and are emotionally invested in “winning” a discussion. They do not believe, or refuse to, that the world is more complex or subtle than they think it is. Instead of approaching problems with a sense of discovery or self-education, they simply charge through separating people into “with them” or “against them.”

Stupid Habit #4: Listening Like a Lawyer, Talking Like a Politician

Communication and understanding are repulsive to stupid people. Instead, they only listen to what people say to take them at the most negative literal interpretation of their words. They never seek to understand what a person is trying to say, or consider the words under an empathetic context. Their only interest is to find a technical contradiction in your words, and then tout the superiority of their own ideas. When they talk, they have no interest in clarity or specificity. Instead, they speak in emotional platitudes and grand ephemeral “visions.”

Stupid Habit #5: Credit For the Good, Blame For the Bad

When things are going well for someone who is stupid, it is because they “did it themselves.” When things are going poorly for someone who is stupid, it is always because “of someone else.” Smart people know that life is a combination of personal behavior and circumstances, they never take too much credit for success and tend to be thankful. Stupid people, in times of blessing, will say that everyone else’s problems are “their own fault.” Yet, when they fall on hard times, it is everyone else’s. They hate the poor when they are rich, and hate the rich when they are poor.

Stupid Needs a Slap in the Face, not Sympathy

Often times people try to placate or sympathize with stupid people, but that only makes it worse. Stupid never gets better until it is called out. Stupid people survive into adulthood simply because yelling, screaming, and throwing fits have worked for them. Until that behavior stops working, they have no motivation to change. No one wants to confront stupid, because they don’t want to deal with the drama and fall out. Too many business cultures tolerate stupid behavior, many reward it.

Most stupid people aren’t really aware of their stupid behavior… because they are stupid. But you would be surprised how many are capable of change when confronted. Until we start taking a stand against stupid, stupid will keep being stupid.