Intellectuals vs Non-Intellectuals
What do you do if you are, regretably, a non-intellectual individual who is constantly snubbed by family who happens to be intellectual? I mean, if I don't go out of my way to say hello, I am ignored. When I do speak first, after a few minutes of cordials, things seem to turn to politics, local or otherwise, which I am not interested in, and I just can't carry my end of the conversation. I know a lot about things that I am interested in, like skating, and cooking, and celebrity type of things, nothing very deep, I guess. Things that these people don't think are important to discuss. Eyes start to glaze over and sometimes I feel kinda stupid.
Do you think if I sat down and forced myself to read the A section of the newspaper or whatever that it would help? It seems most people know all about history or things that aren't current events. I never went to college, so I don't know. Any tips on being more "aware" or whatever?
This is what I tell my students. Watch Headline News at the top of the hour, or at the half hour. In ten minutes, you will know what's going on in the world that affects Americans. Ten minutes. I think everyone can spare ten minutes. And if you find something on there that interests you, then go to the web and learn more. Once or twice a week, watch a local newscast and a national newscast, and you will surprise yourself with how much you know.
I try not to talk skating with non-skating people, lol, because their eyes do glaze over.
Suzy, I just want to say that I think it so commendable of you to be thinking of ways to expand your horizons! I wouldn't suggest you do it just to fit in though, because I've learned in life that when I've made changes in myself to 'fit in' it's fairly short-lived and superficial.
That said, I think everyone should develop an interest in and understanding of what's going on in the world and in our country today. It isn't as much a matter of anyone's superior intellect as it is just reading and learning. We're living in such interesting times and are being called upon to make such monumental choices that it really demands every bit as much of our attention as pop culture does.
Find an issue that you could support....the environment, pro-life/pro-choice, children's issues, eldercare, Bush vs. Kerry election, animal rights...whatever resonates for you, and make a conscious effort to learn just one or two things new about it everyday. We're so lucky to live in the computer age!! You'll find that with your reading you'll be creating your own set of opinions and thoughts that may be interesting to share with your intellectual family (or maybe not, it really shouldn't matter.)
Just this week I was working with a client from Zaire. To my mortification at age 56, other than knowing it was in the middle of Africa, I realized I didn't know one darned thing about Zaire. I asked all sorts of questions, learned a lot and then hit the internet to learn even more.
I guess I'm suggesting that to learn about something so you 'fit in' has less value than developing a curiousity about the world we live in. Good luck to you. I'll bet too that you underestimate how you may be brightening your family's day with 'fluffier' topics than they may ordinarily think about!!
Thanks for the advice! I am going to make a conscious effort to read the headlines and watch the news everyday and start from there. I really do need to be more informed. :o
Forget headline use, check out BBC world
Check out BBC world news.
It is the best news website you can find, really. The front page summarizes news by the region and you can also get country profiles, etc. I learned so much since I started checking it out. I am not a big fan of the current headline news format: they skim on the rest of the world and have a lot of cheesy items.
Thanks for the BBC referral. I just added that to my "Favorites".
One website I always hit is http://www.bourque.org/
The person running it is Canadian, so there is a bit of a Canadian focus. But he reads just about every internet news source there is and posts links to the top stories and a few interesting ones too. He goes out and finds the good stories so we don't have to. He also has a list of all the news sources so you can check them out yourself. Its a great site and my first stop every morning.
Blues fan, the Headline News format is not my favorite, either, but it is a good summary of events that affect Americans. I would rather my students watched this than nothing at all.
I am not sure what grade your students are in, but why focus just on the American news? Things are happening outside of the 50 states that actually very well affect our life. Also, it's very important to see how others report the news - this point was very well demonstrated recently by the documentary Control Room.
I do agree that Headline news channel is better then nothing for students who would much rather watch MTV :D but for an adult (i.e., Suzy, and by the way you are welcome!), I think a bit more coverage is required. Actually Headline news was all right until about 3 years ago then it went downhill, IMO.
I also think it is wonderful to expand your horizons and to be aware of world events, etc. But, you also have to look at your family. I have many family members that are quite intellectual, but they've taken that knowledge to another level and it is almost a one-sided, elitest intellectualism. They can't be disagreed with. I respect intelligence and knowledge tremendously, but I find that many people that appear to be intellectuals actually are not in the true sense of the word (or at least not well-rounded intellectuals). Besides, a true, well-rounded intellectual would be able to discuss the intricacies of cooking, etc with you! So, don't feel too bad or think yourself to be inferior in such company. My "intellectual" uncles (one is a nuclear engineer and the other a biology dept. head at a major university) are often venting hot air....and I quite often hear them recycling and "borrowing" popular opinions I've seen or read about. So, I'd definitely keep up with world events and happenings...but I'd also keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with what you enjoy (especially skating....just think...you are a skating "intellectual") and you should never have to feel inferior.
LOL....okay....that was motivational moment for the day!
Champion Skater (Vicariously)
Dont sweat your intellectual relatives!!! If you are genuinely interested in becoming more in tune with events then I say great, but dont do it just to prove something to them. You probably have great knowledge they might lack in pop culture.
and BTW Headline news is not news in my book....I agree that its better than nothing, and its a good way to perhaps baby steps your way into current events. But I would suggest the evening national news over headline news because of its depth. It may not cover the breadth of topics that cable news networks are able to address, but it does a good job of connecting issues and getting you to see the ripple effect of world events and decisions.
Convergent and new media's effects on newspaper circulation concerns me... there is just no substitute for reading an exceptional national newspaper like the Washington Post or New York times on a regular basis, and it seems like no one my age reads the paper anymore. I am kinda lucky in that my mom worked at the washington post for 10 years, and my dad has been a journalist in both print and tv for his entire career... it was manditory that I read the paper every day from a very early age. <note that this has done nothing for my spelling or grammar, can we get a spell checker on the message board please?>
Longhornliz, don't feel alone, I am guessing I am about your age, but I also read the NY Times! I read it on line, but I ALWAYS start my day by reading Times Union (Albany NY) from cover to cover. Just can't imagine otherwise. If I travel, then it's USA Today. And yes, all that reading does not seem to improve my grammer either
But Bronze has a very good point about some of Suzy's relatives. A real intellectual would know something about manners and would never shut out a person out of a conversation. A well rounded individual should be able to carry a conversation on a number of topics, not just on politics or news. Shame on them!
Hi Liz. Unfortunately, on this board it costs money to install a spellchecker. It was free on ezboard.
Suzy, I have the opposite problem. Everybody thinks I am book smart but no common sense. When I am at a social event and someone asks me what I do, and I say, "mathematics," well, that's the end of the conversation, LOL.
So many people who have advanced degrees act like pompous jerks. My brother-in-law, who has a PhD in electrical engineering and an MBA, is horribly condescending to anyone who isn't at least a CEO of a large company. He tends to speak to people at parties as if they were kindergartners if they don't strike him as being Very Important.
That's why I got a HUGE kick out of beating him at chess (he refused a chance at a return match).
My favorite quick news source is Yahoo. In the morning or at noon, I take about 30 seconds, go to this page, and read the headlines. If a story interests me, I read it.
I also read the NY Times at lunch, www.nytimes.com, but that is much more in depth. For just enough news to know what is going on, use the Yahoo link I provided above. They also provide entertainment news, and you'll see a link to the left.
There is nothing wrong with the subjects you enjoy. Feel free to keep up with them, and also to read about other topics of interest to you.
PS - there is no rule that says that someone without a college degree can't be an intellectual. An intellectual is simply someone who enjoys study, reflection and speculation. You could study, think about and talk about skating, cooking and celebrities, and you'd qualify in those subjects.
And just because you don't have a college degree, and you don't enjoy the subject matter they discuss, doesn't mean that you aren't smart. A college degree definately does not equal smarts.
And even those with college degrees and who might be considered intellectuals don't necessarily follow local politics. Or politics at all.
Lastly, a huge insider secret to appearing to be an intellectual - asking questions. When they start talking about a subject you don't follow, like politics, you join that conversation by asking questions about their opinions. For example, they say John Kerry is a boob - ask them, "Why do you think that?" They say why, then you say, "what do you think about George Bush?" They start talking about something esoteric....international monitary policy...and they say that the US government's policies are short sighted. So you ask, "Why do you think that?" You'll look very smart, you'll be able to participate in the conversation, and you'll never actually have to reveal that you don't know what they're talking about. If they ask for your opinion, deflect - say something like, "I'm still thinking about that..." You can also do this with the headlines you read on Yahoo or saw on CNN that day. You're at the party, they're talking politics, you mention a headline..."So, what did you think about Kerry's speach last night?" If they ask you what you thought, you can say "Oh, I didn't get a chance to see it. I wish I could have..." and deflect the question.