A three-year-old observation by John Scalzi, just because I saw it and like it. The failure mode of clever is asshole.
So, apropos of nothing in particular, let’s say you wish to communicate privately with someone you’ve not communicated with privately before, for whatever reason you might have. And, wanting to stand out from the crowd, you decide to try to be clever about it, because, hey, you are a clever person, and as far as you know, people seem to like that about you. So you write your clever bit and send it off, safe in the knowledge of your cleverosity, and confident that your various cleverations will make the impression you want to make on the intended cleveree.
I hate that person already.
Is that so wrong of me?
I can’t bear people who think they’re fraffly clever and are always being it, which means they aren’t. Always being funny when really they’re just being obnoxious or tedious or both.
Two things here.
1. The effectiveness of clever on other people is highly contingent on outside factors, over which you have no control and of which you may not have any knowledge; i.e., just because you intended to be clever doesn’t mean you will be perceived as clever, for all sorts of reasons.
2. The failure mode of clever is “asshole.”
That makes this whole day worthwhile.