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Brilliant minds = lonely minds?

I am bright but not brilliant. I am bright enough to be unwilling to join many social groups, simply because conversation is often pedestrian. This is particularly true with online social networks.

I also know several genius-level people, and most of them exhibit some bitterness and a tendency to prefer their own company most of the time. The bitterness comes, at least in part, from not being appreciated for what they are, from the tendency of others in this culture to determine a person's worth by their financial success or by the number of letters after their names. Many of the brilliant people I know hated college, did not pursue advanced degrees - because it was easier to gain the knowledge they needed on their own. And then they found themselves on the outskirts - not accepted because they didn't have the credentials.

Recently I have joined a local social network online. It is for people who live on the central coast of California. I joined because someone invited me and I thought what the hell I'll check it out. I haven't contributed much to any of the "communities" but I have observed that the people in this group resemble most of the people I meet in social groups elsewhere - they are, in a word, "social". The communities engage in a lot of small talk. People want to get together, chat about common interests, blah blah blah.

There is one person who stands out, though. He clearly has a mind well beyond the rest of us. He keeps trying to start conversations about science, art, and more, and the way he poses the questions or makes the comments leaves me wondering how do I join in. I mainly watch, read, think. Most of the responses to his comments are friendly yet uncomprehending. One area where he has some competition is in a puzzle group - a brain game community, if you can believe it. There are maybe three or four others who are quite able to play the games as he is. So that must be satisfying.

I have sometimes been in this position, of trying to start a conversation about "real" stuff and getting fluff in return. I don't have a mind like his but I can relate nevertheless. Frankly, a part of me wants companionship at my "level" but a part of me prefers to stay aloof.


Judith Lautner
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January 2012


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