What Makes A Genius?

I recently made a tiktok video discussing my experience as a writer and how I only managed to start my writing career due to a large savings. A lot of people understood the general idea that society forcing people to work has a lot of people wasting their potential. One specific comment said “imagine how many geniuses could flourish if they weren’t worried about their next meal” to which someone replied “most geniuses know that they need to get a job to fund the requirements to pursue their passion”. Besides this completely missing the point of the video (society shouldn’t require people to work to follow their passions) this had a lot of ignorance about what intelligence is in general. The commenter later went on to say no geniuses are working minimum wage jobs and they have good time management…so I thought it was best to start from the ground up. What is intelligence? (Disclaimer: this is written from an American point-of-view. Other countries already have things like a liveable wage, free education, and in general know better.)

With that being said, geniuses could easily be born into struggling households and thus be held back due to these conditions. This circles back to the original point of geniuses being unable to flourish due to being held back by economic issues, but goes even further since household wealth isn’t the only environmental factor to consider. If this genius was born in a struggling household, chances are extremely high that they were born into a struggling school district as well (not to mention the differences private schools and tutors could make). While you may think that a schools financial situation wouldn’t reflect on an individual student, research shows that the opposite is true (Americanpress.org). Increased spending on schools showed noticable jumps in test scores, but more importantly, the very simple act of telling a student they had potential increased their scores. Funding to a school makes a world of difference because that tells the students that we believe they can have a future, that they’re worth our money.

So now that we’ve established that geniuses can not only be born anywhere, but can prosper anywhere with the proper care, can we talk about how (unintentionally) racist the commenter was being? Stating that someone with any sort of intelligence wouldn’t find themselves struggling financially completely ignores the fact that there are many underdeveloped, impoverished countries out there. Apparently they’re stupid because centuries of having their wealth stolen has caused them to live in poverty. Not to mention the generational wealth (familial wealth amassed through the ages) that exists just about everywhere around the world, and how minorities have been the majority of those negatively affected by this.

Sorry, those were some big concepts that I don’t feel like breaking down or citing sources for. The people that really need to read this have already lost their patience as it is, so let’s keep moving forward. Now that we’ve covered a “genius'” childhood/teens we should discuss college. Typically for more “advanced” jobs you need a degree (most often a masters/doctorate or more) so I figure we should cover this. Again, due to generational wealth, many bright and talented students aren’t even able to afford to continue their education. Yes, they have the option to work, but that’s already putting them at a disadvantage compared to their wealthier counterparts. Not to mention how inflation has caused the rising costs of tuition to be unaffordable even with a full time job, but we’ll get back to that later. The main point here is that college is yet another barrier that isn’t ideal for actually fostering a healthy learning environment for everyone.

So even the usual route to skipping minimum wage jobs and finding some sort of financial stability (we won’t get into student loan debt, this would end up being ten times as long) is a bit difficult to manage for the average person (in America, we don’t have time to get into how other countries have free education). If you’re a genius you’ll find a way to manage, right? That means after college you’re home free, right? Hahahahaha.

Most entry-level jobs require a few years of experience, which sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it? “Entry-level” implies a first job, yet they require you to have prior experience. Why is that? Well, typically people say it’s due to an oversaturation of the job market. Some say that there was a job market crash that caused higher leveled employees to lose their jobs and thus settle for entry-level positions. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find credible sources discussing this in a scholarly manner, but companies like Forbes and Indeed plainly state that this is a phenomena that occurs. Sorry, future genius, you might be settling for minimum wage!

So not only are minorities once again the most negatively impacted, but due to inflation a single minimum wage job would barely be enough to survive, especially in places where the cost of living is much higher than the average in America. Something else to consider, the 40 hour work week (which not all countries do) was designed with families in mind. This meant that there would be a stay at home wife/mother who did all the house chores. So, if someone with a full time job was lucky enough to not need a second, they would still have another work load of someone who didn’t work at all unless they had a partner who was able to completely rely on the “genius'” income.

I don’t know, that just seems like a lot of variables to say a genius will overcome no matter what just because they’re supposedly smart enough to deal with it all. I really feel at this point it’d just be easier to admit that capitalism has completely screwed over America and that society taking care of its people’s needs without forcing them into labor to barely scrape by would be more ideal. The original point of my tiktok was that people would be capable of so much more if they weren’t oppressed by their society. There’s countless studies and historical records showing that places prosper when wealth isn’t a huge concern. Are there exceptions to people overcoming the odds and still pursuing what matters even with a heavy workload? Sure, but that doesn’t make it okay. That’s like telling someone, “you still finished the race!”, after they were shot halfway through. That in no way should set a precedent for others following.

Lastly, I’d really like to know of any “geniuses” that were able to prosper while dealing with their own finances. People like Bill Gates and Elon Musk had wealthy parents, Bill Gates was going to Harvard so let’s not pretend their wealthy upbringing didn’t have any effect. Einstein’s father was a salesman and engineer, being in proximity to scholarly things while being wealthy certainly helps to advance your knowledge. Most white men inventors in history actually stole their work from others. So, I rest my case that not having to worry about your basic needs leads to an easy ability to pursue passions and achieve great things. Feel free to give me any examples to the contrary, but at this point you’d be naming one or two people that are exceptions versus entire civilizations that set the standard.

Published by Johvan Calvo

I am a nerdy gay Mexican with a passion for story telling. Trying to find my way in this world but I don't think there's such a thing as a "perfect fit".

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