SBIC – pronounced “ess-bick” – stands for “Smartest Boy In Class”. SBICs are very common in the technical community, particularly in online communities; Slashdot is Mecca for SBICs. The typical SBIC is a tech worker, sometimes a developer but more often a sysadmin or support type. Frequent exposure to people who seem stupid or ignorant reinforces SBIC attitudes and behavior; frequent encounters with smarter or more experienced people tend to cure the disease. The central belief set of SBICs can be summed up as follows:
I am smarter than everyone else. If I can’t solve a problem, nobody can; anybody who claims to’ve found such a solution is a liar. Since I can understand any fact quickly, anything I can’t understand quickly is not a fact.
An example of how this attitude plays out is as follows:
- Somebody proposes a project to an SBIC.
- The SBIC notices some problem with how the project handles XXX.
- The SBIC spends a few minutes trying to solve the problem, and doesn’t come up with anything.
- According to the belief set described above, the SBIC therefore decides that no solution is possible.
- The SBIC infers that the project is doomed to failure, and is therefore a waste of time.
- The SBIC tries to “do everyone a favor” and keep them from wasting time, by criticizing and opposing the project.
- The SBIC won’t shut up about “the XXX problem” until a comprehensive solution is explained to him in excruciating detail.
- Meanwhile, work on every aspect of the project other than “the XXX problem” comes to a standstill.
- If XXX was a secondary or expendable feature, the SBIC’s prediction of doom becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A slight variation of the above occurs when the SBIC sees a problem X, devises a solution Y which introduces problem Z, and then starts complaining about how the project has problem Z. It is not in the SBIC nature to consider the possibility that solutions other than Y exist. To them, Y and Z follow inevitably from X.
There’s another part of the SBIC mindset that provides a solution (yes, I realize there might be others) to dealing with them. It goes like this:
Because I’m so smart, my perspective and priorities are important, and you should place a high priority on addressing them.
Well…no. You’re not, they’re not, and I don’t feel like it. Fly away before you get swatted.