How to Make Yourself Seem Smart, Technique #6: Be a Contrarian

2009 July 7
by mockers

billshelmetOur next technique is a powerful one, and also very simple.  In a nutshell, you should identify two or three things that are popular, or around which a general positive consensus has formed, and insist they are “overrated.”

I told you it was simple!  And it’s almost guaranteed to make people look up to you.  Even if they don’t agree with your opinions, they’ll think you possess a keener insight than most.  It’s a sure-fire way of making people believe you are smart.

Following are a few tried-and-true examples, for illustrative purposes.  But you should strive to come up with your own custom-built targets, if possible.  Unique and unusual always has a greater impact than the “popular unpopular” opinions.

Music is a great place to start.  Most people have favorite artists, and some are downright passionate about them.  One of the most common tactics is to choose a legendary icon, like Elvis Presley, the Beatles, or Nirvana, shrug your shoulders and say, “Maybe it’s me, but I just don’t get the appeal…,” or simply, “Meh.”

This will make you seem smart.

If you want to go above and beyond, you can also craft a scripted spiel about the chosen artist simply having been “in the right place at the right time,” “teeny-bopper bullshit,” or “unqualified to carry Pete Townshend’s jockstrap.”  This can be written in advance, and repeated word-for-word whenever the opportunity to seem smart presents itself.

Television is another great opportunity.  Like with music, passions run high when it comes to favorite TV shows.

During the 1990s many people claimed to detest popular programs such as Friends and Seinfeld.  And in more recent times they’ve gone with the Sopranos and LOST.  It doesn’t really matter what shows you choose, as long as they’re massively popular, and critically acclaimed.

That last part is very important, and should not be overlooked. Many people pretend to dislike programs that are perceived as trash TV – even while secretly loving them.  American Idol, for instance.

So, make sure you pick a program to dislike with high ratings, AND glowing reviews.  Or your efforts to appear smart could be wasted.

Sports will also work well, in certain circles.  If you live in an area where the locals are passionate about one specific team, choose another seemingly off-the-wall team to follow and cheer-on.

Be extra-careful with this one, though. It’s generally not a good idea to choose the local team’s main rival as your “favorite.”  This can lead to bar fights, ass-kickings, and sobbing through heavy gauze.  It’s best to choose some completely unrelated team, and pretend to like them – instead of the popular favorite.

This will make you seem exotic, and therefore, smart.

The following also have proven track records, and continue to perform:

  • a general dislike of PCs (Apple cultists)
  • a general hatred of Microsoft
  • a general hatred of Wal-Mart
  • a militant hatred of meat (“although I’m not one of the obnoxious types…”)
  • claim to not own a television, for high-horse reasons
  • claim to not have the internet, for high-horse reasons

And finally, if you’re feeling extra-frisky, you can continuously criticize the country in which you live (if allowed by law).

It’s never wise to be openly hostile. But you can certainly be willing to believe the worst, accept every crazy-ass conspiracy theory, defend your country’s enemies, and point to bad behavior by your home country whenever somebody mentions bad behavior by another country.

This, when handled skillfully (and carefully!), will make you seem very smart.

Next week we’ll tackle personal appearance, and will discuss the value of never combing your hair, wearing wire-rim glasses, and incorporating moderately-stained tweed jackets into your wardrobe.

See you then!

6 Responses leave one →
  1. 2009 July 7
    Knucklehead permalink

    Wow, people must think I’m a GENIUS!

  2. 2009 July 7

    I saw a bumper sticker the other day…

    If being called a liberal elitist” means not being the dumbest son of a bitch in the room then so be it.

  3. 2009 July 7
    Jilly permalink

    God, Ive been away from the site for a few days, thanks for the continued hilarity – LMAO!!!!

  4. 2009 July 7
    Brynhildr permalink

    If we don’t use “overrated”, how else can we enlighten the misguided? I find that referencing obscure music groups/shows/teams/whatnot just doesn’t have the same “oomph” as it used to when it comes to increasing one’s smart factor.

  5. 2009 July 8
    Limey permalink

    Well, I genuinely dislike programs like “American Idol” – it’s not posturing. If we could cull everyone watching during one episode of “American Idol” I’m sure our gene pool would take a giant leap toward. The price of fast food would skyrocket though.

  6. 2009 July 9

    Reading Nabokov or Barthelme just bores me to tears. Give me good old Pynchon or Didion and I’m good for the week.

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