22.08.2020 Feature Article

Smartness Gone Bad

Smartness Gone Bad
LISTEN AUG 22, 2020

“SMARTNESS IS THE NEW GOLD” says a friend of mine who had successfully acquired a new laptop out of a football bet he won with just Ten Ghana Cedis (GHC10). Perhaps, you also have your own testimony pertaining to the usefulness of being smart. The crux of the matter is this: we are living in an era in which you cannot afford not to be smart. But wait, what is smartness, to begin with? What does it mean to be smart? We generally think of smartness as the ability for a person to do the same thing in a faster, better, judicious, complete and innovative way than others are doing. Being smart is possessing the mental prowess to find practical solutions to problems. A lot of us erroneously equate intelligence to smartness. It is true that intelligent people are smart to a certain degree, however, there are a lot of intelligent people doing stupid things which has nothing to do with smartness. There are a lot of smart people who have had little or no formal education so do not be fooled with the idea that going to school automatically makes you a smart person. Smartness is not determined by the quantum of things you know but the capacity to apply what you know in a judicious and pragmatic manner. To be smart is in itself contextual because you can be smart in one aspect of your life and not be smart in another. A person may be very smart in managing his money but very poor in managing his relationships. You can be very smart in the classroom but very abysmal on the field. Generally, everybody has something particular that he or she is smart at. Simply put, we live in the age of smartness. Call it a smart world or whatever, but I believe we have reached an era in which smartness rules. My interest here is not to talk about what it means to be smart or how to be one, rather I want to draw your attention to how our so-called smartness is paradoxically making life unbearable for us.

Everybody thinks of himself as being smart. Nobody wants to be outsmarted thus, in everything we do, we always want to prove our smartness to the people around us regardless of the consequences. One of the things which has become very common in our daily social activities is the desire to outsmart the other person. There seems to be a passion in us to always create a good impression of ourselves by painting a good picture of our identity in order to make a good case of how smart we are. In any given situation, we always want to make sure that we come out as the smartest. Smartness is a good thing, it is a basic necessity of success, nevertheless I believe we have come to a point in which our so-called smartness is creating problems for us. We have become so fixated on outsmarting each other such that greed, selfishness, deceit, dishonesty, callousness, slander, and WICKEDNESS have become the order of the day. We have become so smart to the point that it is hampering our progress in life. Now the goal has shifted from being smart for good reasons to being smart just so we can achieve our ulterior motives. Telling lies, for example, has become so normalized in such a fashionable way that a lot of people think being smart is equivalent to the deliberate act of deviating from the truth. We have become so selfish that we do not see anything wrong with being selfish. Our quest to prove our smartness has created in us an interminable egocentric passion for self-gratification. In that case we do not really care about the repercussions of our actions on the people within our circle. We behave diabolically all in the name of proving to people that we are smart. Instead of admitting and turning away from our horrendous behaviours, we rather justify them as acts of smartness. This is really not so good and it is high time we eschew this kind of mindset because it is wreaking havoc not only on our individual lives but the society at large.

I cannot tell you, in one article, the countless ways in which we demonstrate our ill-minded smartness to the world, however, I trust that in this short piece, I have drawn your attention once again, if not for the first time, to a very troubling canker that we must deal with if we ever want to live a better life. Of course, smartness is a must-have attribute nonetheless, it is not to be used as a yardstick for wrongful conducts. Smartness has got nothing to do with duping people. Moreover, it does not mean inflicting pain and misery on others as well as being inconsiderate about the atrocious consequences of our deceitful actions. We will continue to face the same problems we face today if we do not desist from this evil behaviour.


WRITTEN BY N.Q. PETERSON ([email protected])

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