“Be Normal At Dinner:” On Geniuses, Lovers, and The Asks We Make of Both
Anne Branigin
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The TalkTalk issue and how to do deal with ‘troublesome’ geniuses

Wonderfully put!

So everybody’s probably heard about the TalkTalk issue right? The telecomms company’s architecture was hacked into, and the suspect is a 15yo from Northern Ireland. He (?) is now in custody.

Yes, it wasn’t ethical. I am not in disagreement.

But seriously, imagine the impact of an arrest and aggressive interrogation on a 15yo’s psyche. It is going to be harsh! He (gonna use ‘he’ for the sake of convenience) might be outwardly brave, but he is definitely going to be feeling alienated. Our fear and shame-based tactics for addressing such breach of societal contracts needs to stop. It is becoming a breeding ground for rebels and outcasts, and everybody knows that we are social kind who love our sense of connectedness and belonging, right?

We need to put a mechanism in place that allows us to put such young ‘law-breakers’ in touch with people who can mentor them and channel their energies and capabilities in the right direction. People who understand the incongruous growth that can happen in young people and their personalities should be consulted before debilitating action is taken.

This seems to have happened in Ahmed’s case, although the details of the case are vastly different and he didn’t happen to break any law. He was, however, humiliated as a result of the xenophobic reaction, and redressal came in the form of an invite to Menlo Park and the White House. He eventually took up that scholarship from Qatar though. Good move, Ahmed.

Such initiatives make the young person aware that such an alienating episode is temporary, and trust can be re-built with certain techniques and the right sort of mindset.

I hope the 15yo, if he turns out to be ‘guilty’, is guided keeping this in mind.

Just yesterday, I read Annie’s piece on how it is human nature to treat that which is exquisite and considered genius as a persona that we rush to stereotype and package in a box that fits our convenience and worldview. In a globalized, hyper-connected world, it pays to be aware of such tendencies, and implement techniques that cancel out our biased tendencies.

Originally published here.

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