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The "Dumbing" Down of Ourselves

Updated on November 2, 2012

Changing how we speak or write depending on the audience.

Yesterday while I was using the instant messenger at work to discuss some work related issues, I discovered that I was editing myself in how I presented my thoughts based upon previous experience with this person. My co-worker is far from being an idiot, but I have discovered that they don't have the same level of vocabulary that I do. So I find myself having to re-think the words I use, and whether or not the other person will understand certain words. This realization then prompted me to remember several conversations I've had over the last 5 or 6 years with various individuals.

One of the conversations I recall came from an online acquaintance, who was having trouble finding the "right" one. He asked me why is it that a lot of women, and according to him, very attractive women, will "dumb" themselves down to try and attract a man. My only explanation is that even in today's modern society women are taught beauty over brains. Not only by their parents, but by society as a whole. If you look at the movies, and television, the women who are considered the beautiful ones aren't usually portrayed as having high intelligence, and those that have the high intelligence are made to look very plain and are usually a bit on the heavier side. So while people are trying to change how women are perceived as objects, Hollywood and other television makers all over the world are doing their best to show that a woman shouldn't show herself to be intelligent if she wants to attract the hot guy.

Then another conversation I had with a female friend we had the same thought patterns, but though our conversation, we came to the conclusion that this strange phenomenon also happened to men. So then we started thinking about mutual people that we knew, both male and female who we knew were very intelligent but when they were around the opposite gender, or same gender depending on their preference, would suddenly turn into airheads. It was quite an eye opening experience, as well as completely entertaining on some twisted level. The entertainment part came from us calling them out on their erratic behavior and asking why they acted that way. The most common answer was that they didn't want to intimidate or turn the person off with showing their intelligence.

On some levels I found that answer appalling and very sad. Even though I don't consider myself exceptionally beautiful, however, I do think I'm above average in looks, but by my saying that people will think I'm conceited. That's just my having confidence in who I am now, five years ago you would not have even heard or seen that thought from me. I may not have always had confidence in my outer appearance, but I've always had confidence in my intelligence. Even while my ex-husband was degrading and belittling my intelligence at home, he would boast about it to others about how he got lucky to have a smart wife. That dichotomy was a bit confusing, but not my issue any longer.

I had the privilege of getting a private school education from first grade up until the middle of 6th grade, and because I have moderate to borderline severe asthma, I had to miss school because of not being able to breathe and at that time the asthma medications were just as bad as the actual condition. Basically, you could breathe but you were so high and doped up you couldn't function. Asthma medications have come a LONG way since then. Because of staying home a lot, I went through all my books, and I even resorted to reading the dictionary. I also had a natural aptitude for language and words that thankfully have stayed with me all these years later. I don't know if it's because I had the privilege of a private school education, or if it's because of my natural ability to learn quickly, or because the love of learning was fostered by both sides of my family, but I have always had a confidence in being the "smart" girl in class.

My family appreciated intelligent women, and wouldn't allow us to act like imbeciles just because there was someone who interested us. We were taught, if they can't appreciate you for who you are, then they don't deserve any of your time. So I was never one of those girls that would act like I don't know something just because it might intimidate someone. I will admit there are times when I am under estimated, I will readily almost haughtily show when I am the one with the superior knowledge on a subject. I don't do it often, usually when I feel passionately about a subject.

My point is that everyone, both men and women, need to start taking care of their inner intelligence, not just the outer beauty because as we all age, beauty can fade if there isn't something on the inside to back it up.


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    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 4 years ago from Florida

      Hi,

      Never act with either sex---just be you. Would you want a man who was highly intelligent to act dumb?

      That is not being truthful to appear on a level of intelligence lower than you actually are in any case.

      Your co-workers will respect your intelligence and maybe learn to reach your level by studying and improving their skills

      of communication.

      I enjoyed your hub and it make a valuable point. So do not dumb-down for anyone---use your brain and be yourself.

      Bobbi Purvis

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 4 years ago

      If you ever doubt that as a society we have continued to dumb down. Look at older or original editions of books, for example, Little Women, then look at a current version and check the vocabulary. Your Hub is right on.

    • abbykorinnelee profile image

      Abigayle Malchow 4 years ago from Ripon Wisconsin

      I hated it when my ex-husband used to tell me I was talking down to him because I was using big vocabulary words he didn't understand and started to decrease the verbage I used and it really degenerates if you do that. It took me years to gain back the intellectual way I used to speak. It wasn't speaking down to him I thought I was having an intelligent conversation. I think those that make us feel that we have to do that, dumb down, are the ones with the problem. They are insecure and we shouldn't let their insecurity of their own intelligence hinder our own. If you don't understand that is what asking questions is for and by doing that you are becoming a more intellectually rounded person, I have to ask questions...its the questions you don't ask that are stupid.

    • LEWMaxwell profile image
      Author

      Leslie Schock 4 years ago from Tulsa, Oklahoma

      Bobbi, I don't dumb myself down normally, this was something I caught myself doing because I knew the person I was speaking to doesn't have as extensive a vocabulary as I do, even though I know this co-worker is very intelligent. And that started the thought process and remembering conversations with friends of how we dumb ourselves down in other areas. Thank you for commenting.

    • LEWMaxwell profile image
      Author

      Leslie Schock 4 years ago from Tulsa, Oklahoma

      How interesting that you chose "Little Women" as an example! My first time reading "Little Women" was an older version that my great-grandmother had when I was about 10 or 11, and I picked up a newer version recently for my daughter, and I was highly disappointed because the way it read with the new vocabulary changes, didn't give the book the power of emotion that it used to have. Thank you so much for commenting.

    • LEWMaxwell profile image
      Author

      Leslie Schock 4 years ago from Tulsa, Oklahoma

      Abby, my ex-husband as well would insult my intelligence, all the time, even though he himself is intelligent. I think on many levels I use a higher level of thinking than he does, and that intimidated him, so to make himself feel more important belittling me and trying to make me feel bad about myself made him feel better about his own lack of self esteem. Childish in many ways but some people are like that. And you are spot on when you say it is their problem, because it is. I too ask questions even if it seems like I should know something. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

    • profile image

      Jason 4 years ago from HighPoint, N.C.

      This is an essential hub, her on hubpages! My long-time girlfriend has mentioned that her cousin {who also has a very high general I.Q.}, has to tone-done his words and "dumb-it-down" during family get-togethers. / I've voted your page up. / Also, i have a hub up on "pedantic synapse exercise" ideals, check it out if you wish. / Thanks for this hub!

    • LEWMaxwell profile image
      Author

      Leslie Schock 4 years ago from Tulsa, Oklahoma

      Thank you so much for your feedback. I truly appreciate it. I will check out your hub. Thanks again for commenting.

    • abbykorinnelee profile image

      Abigayle Malchow 4 years ago from Ripon Wisconsin

      I was glad to read that it is something someone else ould relate to. Makes me feel better because I used to wonder if I did it subconsciously on purpose because I really didn't consciously mean to..

    • LEWMaxwell profile image
      Author

      Leslie Schock 4 years ago from Tulsa, Oklahoma

      Abby, I just happened to catch myself changing my vocabulary, and it made me wonder how many other times I've done it without noticing. Thank you to commenting. I truly appreciate it.

    • abbykorinnelee profile image

      Abigayle Malchow 4 years ago from Ripon Wisconsin

      I stopped...I like sounding smart:)

    • CrazedNovelist profile image

      A.E. Williams 3 years ago from Hampton, GA

      Very cool topic of discussion. I definitely think that many people are afraid of intimidating someone they're dating or trying to impress. It just happens that way. I think it's a fear of being haughty or a know-it-all. I can definitely relate to that. :)

    • LEWMaxwell profile image
      Author

      Leslie Schock 3 years ago from Tulsa, Oklahoma

      CrazedNovelist, that is another way to look at it. Food for thought. Thanks for commenting.

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