There is a serious problem in our society that is receiving very little attention: the discrimination against competent people. These are people who show up to meetings on time, who follow through on what they say they would do, and who normally speak in plain English and say sensible things like “We should try to start meetings on time” and “Here, I printed out the minutes on the back of the agenda so that we don’t waste paper.” These are good people, and each day, they face constant challenges and discrimination, something I call “competentism,” and left unchecked, it may destroy our world.
As a society, we punish the competent. Sometimes this is conscious, such as when competent managers are neglected in promotions in favor of idiotic but more controllable ones. Or parents will be like “Huy, you should mow the lawn. Yeah, we know it’s your brother’s turn, but he doesn’t do a good job. And plus, he’s napping.”
Oftentimes, however, it is unconscious. All of us are guilty of competentism. Think about it, when you need to move, whom do you call? A competent friend, that’s whom. (The competent also tend to have better grammar). Competent people end up bearing the brunt of responsibilities, being asked to do much more stuff while the lazy and incompetent come up with excuses and stay at home and update their Facebook timeline or something. Worse, we let them get away because it is much easier to work with competent people, continuing a vicious cycle.
But at what price comes our unfair treatment of the competent? Just look around you. Do you see a lot of competent people in power? No! Despite working harder and smarter, few competent people are in charge of anything. Incompetent people tend to be louder and more obnoxious, which unfortunately and unfairly means that they are much more likely to get what they want. Then there’s the internalized oppression that the competent have to deal with, where they intellectualize the world’s unfair treatment of them as a res ult of their own failings. They tend to be more modest and thoughtful, which can be a serious disadvantage with the way things work.
Years of constant discrimination have led the competent to go into hiding, trying to blend in with the masses. While it may seem that there are few of them, especially in recent years, in fact, some studies estimate that at least 3 out of every 10 people can be categorized as competent. It just seems like there are not that many because they will not publicly acknowledge their competency for fear of being voted as chair of a committee and assigned additional work.
We need to undo competentism. Decades of the incompetents in power have resulted in what? A polluted world, a sad global economy, crappy reality shows, and stupid commercials like the ones for MiO water enhancers with the disturbing anthropomorphized animals.
I am calling on all of us to stop this war on the competent, or else our world may be doomed. We competent people must band together and support each other. We must also be willing to run for office and other positions of power so that we can change the world for the better. We must find allies in the thoughtful semi-competent. If we all work together, we can create a world where our kids can grow up and feel like they can be free to be competent without being asked to plan a wedding or something.
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