Being smart is advantageous in life because it leads to more education and employment opportunities. Being cool is advantageous in life because it leads to more networking and social success. But being smart isn’t cool. This is especially true when you’re a kid or a teenager. It’s been a while since I’ve been at that stage of life but I don’t think things have changed much since then. I admit that I was one of the smart kids, and of course I wasn’t one of the cool kids. (It’s sad that I have to “admit” it). It’s not like I was the nerd who was constantly getting teased, but my intelligence never helped my social mobility. I was able to befriend some of the cooler kids but my intelligence and good grades got in the way. In school, most kids, (except for my smart friends), thought it was cool to fail a test or to not do some homework. Perhaps displays of rebelliousness get a kid street credibility. Some kids are so influenced by peer pressure that they would rather sacrifice their education, (and subsequent future), to be cool. Some of them just might have been stupid and passed off the lack of academic performance as intentional.
This phenomenon doesn’t make much sense and it makes life tough for the smart kids. When asked by friends what grade I received on a test, I would usually have to humbly admit that I did well, and then the distancing ensued. My coolness was instantly reduced by scoring well.
Basically in American society, it’s OK to flaunt your money or status but it’s not OK to flaunt your intelligence. People drive exotic cars, show off their beautiful houses, beautiful spouses, designer clothes or talk about having a lot of money. Nobody shows off their SAT scores or their GMAT scores. It’s just not done. It seems as though it’s different in other countries, especially Asia, but I hope that someday, it will be considered cool to be smart. Then in at least one way, it can be smart to be cool.