Everyone is a snob about something.In the dictionary snob has two different definitions:
snobMy theory speaks to the second definition. It is my belief that everyone has some place in their life where they experience a "self-satisfied superiority in matters of taste or intellect."
1. One who tends to patronize, rebuff, or ignore people regarded as social inferiors and imitate, admire, or seek association with people regarded as social superiors.
2. One who affects an offensive air of self-satisfied superiority in matters of taste or intellect.
Maybe you're a snob about music, coffee, beer, worship styles, theology, computer platforms, clothing, home decor, blogging platforms (!) or certain lifestyle choices. You can be a snob with just about anything. And it's my contention that everyone has some snob in them. Maybe we're not a generalized snob, but there are areas where it comes out.
Which areas? Well, it's likely to be found in those areas where we've been heavily invested or have some expertise, training, skill or knowledge. In this, being a snob is close to being a critic. That is, when we adopt a critical stance toward something (perhaps for good and legitimate reasons) we are on the threshold of snob. The difference, in my mind, is that snobbery is an emotional delight, mainly smugness, in the act of criticism. That is, your criticism is largely about you and your own self-esteem project. Being a snob is being critical to make yourself feel better. And this is why we're snobby about things we're good at. This talent, skill and knowledge we possess is what makes us special and unique. Which means that the things that confer self-esteem are the very locations where I can act as critic, "insider," and expert. For it is with the stuff we're good at where we'll feel superior, prideful, smug, and snobby.
More, snobbery can affect the simplicity of my life. Generally, I'm a person of modest tastes. I drink Folgers coffee in the morning. I work comfortably between Macs and PCs. I own just three pairs of jeans, one pair of "dress" shoes and no dress pants at all (it's 100% jeans). I buy used cars. To be clear, I'm not frugal. But for the most part I don't worry about brand names or quality. In the language of psychology, when it comes to consumption I'm a satisfier rather than a maximizer. I'm a "good enough" kind of guy.
And yet, in a corollary to my Rule of Snob I have a related rule in regards to consumptive snobbery. Here it is:
Everyone demands unjustified quality in some area of their consumer existence.Here's an example. I have a friend who demands quality in sunglass wear. So he'll spend $200 on Oakley sunglasses. I can't remotely imagine spending that kind of money on sunglasses. I buy my sunglasses from WalMart and gas stations. My current sunglasses (which look fantastic on me) were $10. In short, I'm not a sunglasses snob. Cheap, functional sunglasses are just fine for me.
I have other friends who will not drink coffee unless it is very high, Starbucks-level quality. The Folgers coffee I drink in the morning just won't do for them. So I'm not a coffee snob.
But according to my rule, there must be some, fairly arbitrary, places in my life where I demand unjustified quality. I have to be a snob about something, right?
True enough, here is a list of things I'm snobby about:
SneakersSome commentary given the randomness of my list:
Sneakers:So there it is, a bit of confession. I bring it all up to note how this random demand for quality creates yet another occasion for snobbery. More, this consumptive snobbery complicates my desire to live a life of simplicity. My failures with simplicity have less to do with acquisitiveness than this demand for quality in particular areas.
I grew up playing basketball. And it was an annual ritual to buy new, leather basketball shoes at the start of the season. It was like going to church. And I loved the smell of new leather and the look of new Converse or Nike shoes. Ever since, I've been spoiled. All my sneakers are brand name. I'll buy my sunglasses at WalMart, but not my sneakers. I go to athletic stores for that. I'm a sneaker snob.
For some reason, I demand a good pen. I write a lot so I care about the flow of the pen and the size of the line it makes. So I don't buy bulk packs of Bic pens. No, I go to Office Depot and stand there forever trying out all these expensive pens. I'm a pen snob.
I'm a very casual dresser. Even in formal situations I dress down. Sometimes too much so. To help offset this I tend to wear an expensive watch. It's not crazy expensive, but I'll spend $100 on a watch. I think I do this because, per Thorstein Veblen's theory, it functions as a sign of my conspicuous consumption. That is, although I wore shorts, a t-shirt, and flip flops to my meeting at the university today, I had my watch on. It's a sign, I guess, that I'm "consciously" dressing down (to be, what, a rebel?) and that I'm not a hobo. The watch, no matter what I'm wearing, anchors me to my socioeconomic class. So I'm a watch snob.
I ride a bike to work most days. Given all my time on my bikes (see, I have more than one) I've come to demand quality in them as well. I own brand name bikes, a Trek hybrid and an Electra Amsterdam. So I'm a bike snob.
My favorite food in the whole world is ice cream. I eat an astonishing amount of ice cream. It's the food that soothes me and makes me feel childlike. Given this consumption, I've acquired a taste for high quality ice cream. I can't eat cheap ice cream. So I'm an ice cream snob.
So what about you? And snob confessions?