The Loneliness of Smart People
Geeks analyze (and over-analyze) everything. We want to know the rules of a system. We want to watch something repeatedly until we know it by heart, and have spotted all the flaws. -Jason Snell, “Baseball Misfits”
Glyph recently wrote a pretty great post defining nerds, geeks, and dorks. I found it aligns pretty closely to what I’ve observed. Here’s why:
- I enjoy quiet, reflective time. I use it to read (usually non-fiction) or brainstorm or tinker/create.
- When I do participate social gatherings, often they are purpose driven, and when the purpose is accomplished, I leave.
- If I’ve chosen those with whom the social gathering occurs, those social gatherings often devolve (or evolve?) into similar things listed in #1.
- If I haven’t chosen the social gathering, and am there for, say, moral support of another human being (often my wife), I’d much prefer to find a small handful of people in a corner having a rich and deep conversation. If I am in a larger group of people, the conversation is a physical drain on me, and when I can finally get out, I go home and immediately fall asleep.
I have a huge desire to be intellectually stimulated. I like to tinker and explore and do things I have no idea how to do (as evidenced by the 1977 VW Van restoration project in the garage, despite the fact that I have no mechanical training whatsoever). This has an interesting side effect.
I have a hard time connecting with people that aren’t the same.
And that’s a majority of people.
I don’t say this to evoke sympathy. In fact, I’m quite happy to make that sacrifice. My wife may not, but I let her do what she wants (and 5+ years later, I’m still surprised when she prefers to hang out with nerdy ol’ me). As for me, I’d like to spend my whole life learning, and if “loneliness” (or rather, seclusion) is the cost, that’s okay by me.