We’ve all heard about this incredible assemblage of intelligence that is the Internet. “The sum of human knowledge,” we’re told — so why haven’t we seen it? If this is meant to be the electronic űber-mind that will usher us into the future with a complimentary hover-beverage, why can’t anyone on it spell? How can we use it to make ourselves smarter, as opposed to make ourselves lose another entire evening to YouTube?
The first priority is set your goals: you want to seem smarter. Actually getting smarter is somewhat beyond the abilities of an LCD monitor and a mouse (unless you find a way of MacGuyvering them into your cerebellum, and even then shoving a display into your skull will only make you look bright physically, not intellectually).
1. Know About Your Friends
The best way to seem smarter is to know about subjects people care about, and they care about themselves. Remembering your friends’ special life events and milestones (e.g., birthdays and anniversaries) and those of their children, pets, and Gundam collectibles gives disproportionate rewards: you’re not just someone who can read a calendar — you’re a thoughtful, considerate friend who deserves rewards when your day comes around!
There are many services which can remind you of upcoming important dates, such as BirthdayAlarm (which you can use for anything) or the significantly neater Google Calendar. Facebook also offers such reminders, but I recommend using one of the previous two — it’s far too easy to miss a major anniversary when the alert is buried under status changes, images, and invitations.
2. Don’t Say Anything Stupid
“Seeming smarter” can be achieved simply by not saying anything dumb. So many people say so much that is so stupid, especially online, that the simple absence of idiocy can make you look like a genius by comparison. Google has come up with a way to enforce this for you. Mail Goggles is a self-stupidity screener you can set to filter your mail when you suspect you might not be quite compus mentus. You know: late at night, when you’ve been drinking, or after finding old flames on Facebook. The problem is that e-mail disconnects you from reality: while you usually remember that there are real people on the other side of the screen, something about booze or insomnia turns every message into text adventure — type what you like to see what the response is!
Yeah, don’t do that.
At best, Mail Goggles might stop you saying something you’ll regret. At least, it should give you enough time to check you’ve hit “reply” and not “reply all.”
3. Improve Your IQ (Tests)
Never again waste a moment waiting for an e-mail or booting up Excel; while others rot their brains hitting the e-mail “refresh” every five seconds, yours can be in the intelligence gym cranking up the IQ.
4. The Internet Umbrella
One mark of a together-guy is always knowing where he is. Nothing undermines your apparent intelligence like arriving at a party an hour late because you got lost. “Hey guys, I couldn’t follow the elementary instructions that you all obviously worked out because you’re here, but I’m worth talking to anyway!” Another shortcut to seeming smart is to have the very latest and greatest in gadgets.
The recently-introduced Pileus Internet Umbrella combines both the Internet and the latest in gadgetry to ensure that you’ll never be lost again (while making you look like you’ve just arrived from the set of Buck Rogers). The system incorporates a GPS tracker, mini-projector, and a computer to project your current location on the inside of the umbrella at all times. A camera can take pictures and send them to Flickr, complete with location tags, so you can save time on sharing holiday snaps. As a bonus, it also keeps the rain off.
You’ll never lose time looking for directions — though you may be slowed down by the huge crowds of people going “Wow, what is that and can I have a go?”
5. Mental Exercise
A genuine way to increase your intelligence is to work on riddles. Original puzzles which challenge your intuition can increase your mental flexibility in ways that the ten times tables just never could. The mother lode of mind-maxing is Zahada, a riddle site where progress through the pages depends on defeating perplexing puzzles. Check out the site, start looking for the “start now” button, and then realize that you’re already playing.
I was hesitant to recommend this site because here at the Smartlife we’re all about freeing up your time (and money), and Zahada will do anything but. The extremely intelligent mindbenders will consume as much time as you let them. On the upside, increasing your intelligence (or at least staying mentally sharp) can lead to increased productivity, plus most of the puzzles can all be pondered offline, meaning that they do save you time in the long run.
6. Just Look Smart
If all else fails, just look smarter with Just Lab Coats by snagging yourself some instant-scientist clothing. As long as you never stay in one place long enough for anyone to question you, they’ll think you’re a genius. Glasses may help. Glasses plus playing Zahada on the Pileus Umbrella in a lab coat will probably get you the Nobel Prize.*
Image credit: Yakobchuk / iStockphoto