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Let's talk.... - Paint It Black
Living the American dream one heartbreaking piece at a time
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feren
Let's talk....
Okay, it's been a while since I've written anything that could be considered all that controversial and it's been just as long since I've written anything that falls under my "thoughtful" category. While one could easily argue that none of my rant-style entries are even remotely approaching "thoughtful," I'm laboring under the premise that since you are here, dear reader, I must be doing something right. ;)



The last two days I've been spending a lot of time thinking about a conversation I had some number of weeks ago with a group of associates and friends. Yes, as antisocial as I can be at some times in my life, I do enjoy communicating with people as a whole. It is my belief that the ability to convey ideas and share beliefs amongst individuals is one of the few key factors in separating us from our simian relatives who are supposedly a few notches down from us on the ol' evolutionary ladder. There are certainly other things that help separate us (lack of thermonuclear weapons, for example), but that's a discussion for later. As I was saying, I participated in (maybe I should use the phrase incited) a discussion about what it is to be snobby or elitist, what it says about the people who act that way, and if there is a difference between "snobby" and "arrogant." Before I continue, let's get one thing clear from the outset: You can call it arrogance, you can call it snobbiness, you can call it elitism. No matter what label you put on it, it is an attitude frequently held by people I find to be utterly contemptible. I believe that people who turn their noses up at other people over trivial things like what type of beer they drink or the model of cars they drive to be totally pathetic creatures. Weren't we supposed to get over that by 8th grade? I'm reminded of the insipid little cretins in elementary school who were convinced I wasn't "cool" because I didn't wear Nike shoes. In fact, I find anybody who uses some arbitrary belief or factor as a lever in that fashion to be pretty despicable, and a prime candidate for a punch in the lip with a lead wrecking ball. I have a hard time imagining how empty somebody's life has to be if they find it necessary to take pleasure in lording what amounts to an opinion over somebody else. It's so sad to see somebody saying that this opinion in some way is superior to that of another's. And look out if you're one of those people who do not share the opinion or (*gasp*) worse yet dare to disagree or point out how lame they're being. Just because you think it's better does not make it so. Clue phone for you elitist folks, opinions do not translate into facts, no matter how hard you may try to delude yourself otherwise. People have no right to judge other people on something as arbitrary as what brand of beer they drink, what shoes they wear or where they go out for dinner. It's a stupid thing to judge on, anyway, because what does it tell you about that individual in question? It tells you jack shit, that's precisely what it tells you.

This conversation started off innocently enough, I made a remark about wanting a beer of a certain brand. Another individual asked how I could justify drinking such swill. Now I happen to be pretty fond of my favorite brands of beer, so I was more than a little amused at the sheer amount of arrogance that was oozing off the other party when they made this statement. I inquired as to what brand of beer they were fond of, and was given the name of one import or another. That's fine, but I've tried that brand, and it wasn't anything that impressed me -- I've always enjoyed pale ales, and stouts are just not up my alley (I've been known to say that if I am expected to chew a beer I probably will not enjoy it). I'm usually a "live and let live" kind of guy, but that night for some reason the attitude just got under my skin, so I decided to be a bit of a pain in the ass, and fired back a remark asking what made that beer so much better, along with a barb about the individual in question being all snobby about their favorite brand... and thus the conversation began. I participated for a while, but mostly ended up getting involved in something else a little less annoying at that time, so some of it got tuned out. Nevertheless I was at least paying some attention to the things that were being said, and this person in particular was very vehement on their position. When I called them on it, I must have rattled the cage a little, because it sure seemed to fire them up. At one point they accused me of "taking this too seriously" because I happened to tell them exactly what I thought of people who evidence such lousy attitudes. I was riled up at that point, because I was tired of having this individual look down their nose at me just because they think that my beer of choice is so much less "worldly" then what they perceived theirs to be. When I challenged the attitude they were giving about their drink, they gave back the answer that I've seen used time and time again... it's a tired old card these snobs play, and it's one that's pretty much universal to people who have no real grounds for their position but are utterly convinced of their correctness on this issue. Said answer usually goes along the lines of how they "simply have more refined tastes." Sure enough, the person I challenged on this pulled that exact phrase out and plopped it on the table. "I've just advanced beyond enjoying beers like that, and have more developed tastes than you."

Huhwha?

So because I happen to enjoy a "cheap" beer, and don't care for the other brand... because I don't conform to somebody else's tastes in something (beer, cars, women, food, you name it) and my opinions don't align perfectly with yours, they are somehow inferior to you or defective. Hmm. I see. Have a superiority complex much? I mean, how the heck does that work out? Maybe, just maybe, it's you who are defective. But that possibility never entered the snob's mind, oh no. They are absolutely, positively, one hundred percent convinced they're better than others in this one respect (or entirely, depending upon the individual). Because it's an "acquired taste" it's somehow... better? What if I just plain don't like it, or see no reason to partake in it? Obviously I'm doing so because I just plain suck.

Right.

Let me tell you why this person said what they said: they want to feel special. They want to feel unique, because in so feeling they believe themselves to be somehow better. There's a real indicator of lousy self-esteem if I ever saw one. They happened to notice that people they look up to (or desire to be peers of) are drinking this beer, so they convinced themselves by sheer force of will that this beer is somehow magically "better." Sure, that person may honestly enjoy the taste of this brand of beer better than mine, and I'm cool with that. Yeah, it has different ingredients and a different taste, comes from a different brewer, but in the end it's still a beer, period. You can't say it has any quantifiable difference that makes it superior -- it's entirely up to the individual's taste buds, their likes and dislikes, and that makes this superiority entirely subjective (and I will argue that even in cases where there's a quantifiable factor that indicates superiority, like horsepower on a car, it's still partly subjective because things like "style" play a large part in our perception of a product or service and that is once again entirely up to the individual). It also certainly didn't hurt that the person in question perceived a small group as being aficionados of this brand of beer, so decided to join in so as to feel special as well. After all, it's the popular choice of the "in" crowd, so it must be right, and only 9-5 blue collar slobs would drink anything else and be content (I guess the idea that I just like what I drink and am content never crossed this person's mind). I liken this to all the middle-aged yuppies who are suddenly proclaiming themselves Wiccans -- it's the "in" thing to do because it's a small group and they think that this sudden "discovery" of the religion and belief structure somehow makes them more "sensitive" or "in touch with the spirit world" or whatever BS excuse they can cook up. The desire to feel different, and thus superior, was the driving force here ladies and gentlemen. This is a case of the horse following the cart.

You know what? This world is made up of individuals. Billions of them. Something on the order of over six billion, in fact, the last time I checked. Each one of these six-and-change-billion individuals has likes and dislikes. Those likes and dislikes exist for different reasons; ranging from upbringing to personal experiences to the religions they were exposed to as children. Some of these likes, as well as the dislikes, are common enough that they're shared by other people -- maybe only three, maybe three thousand, maybe three million. The numbers change depending upon what we're talking about, but you see where I'm going with this, I wager. Regardless of the reason, these opinions, these TASTES in different things like music have always been used to size up others, from peers to enemies. And every time they are used as measuring sticks, each side always uses the reasoning that they are the only "right" ones as a defense for being snots about their opinions. Ask people why they're the "right" side in a war, the side that deserves to win, and you'll see a lot of head scratching. I personally guarantee you'll get back at least fifty percent of your answers as "We just are."

See a correlation here? I do.

This is why the attitude exhibited by this individual maddened me so: elitism has been a thorn in the side of humanity for a long, long time. It is, without a doubt, responsible for more misery in our history than any fire, flood or ice age. "My nation is better than yours." WHAM, you've got yourself a war. "My skin color is better than yours. Because it is white, I am clearly a superior creature." WHAM, you've got slavery... and war... and ethnic cleansing. I mean, just think about it for a second; doesn't that just give you shivers down your spine? Hitler was spouting that genetic superiority line an awful lot. "Our genes are just better."

And it was
All.
Just.
Opinion.

I suppose because it's just that, opinion, I shouldn't be so frustrated and angry about it. After all, I'm entitled to my opinion, just as that individual should be entitled to theirs, right? Okay, yes, I will concede that point. But it still makes me incredibly angry because I hate seeing people trying to find ways to elevate themselves and at the same time belittle another person. It's so amazingly childish, and as far as I'm concerned the excuse that "I'm just better for trite reason X, Y or Z" is only used by people with weak minds and small intellects. There's an old axiom that goes along the lines of there's no accounting for taste. You hear it a lot in the art world (paintings, sculptures, etc), and as much of a cliche as it might be it is one hundred percent dead on. So if there's no accounting for taste, why can't people just leave these things alone? If the person is happy with their choice, let them be. They're happy, you're happy, everyone is happy for once in history. Yet that's never enough, for some reason that I'm unable to fathom. There is always that one person, who has just got to crow about how much better they are, or how much better their favorite choice is... just because. Good Christ, pissing in somebody's Wheaties like that just because you can't stand to see somebody else happy (or maybe you want them to be jealous... or act like you, since imitation is the supposedly the sincerest form of flattery) makes you seem like the kind of insecure little twit who needs to be taken out back behind Uncle Red's barn and violently introduced to reality by way of a two-by-four repeatedly impacting the head. Once that's done knocking the attitude problem out of their system, then maybe it'll be time to get out a pair of jumper cables, clip them to the nipples and clamp onto the generator. Maybe with enough current across the tits we'll be able to restart that brain wave that went completely flat line when Mom pushed your empty, soulless corpse from her body in the delivery room and baptized you in Evian.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Sedan delivery is a job I know I'll keep

Current Mood: aggravated aggravated
Current Music: Feren's Streaming MP3 collection

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Comments
roho From: roho Date: January 25th, 2002 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
All kinda' boils down to my favorite quote to say to people who feel it's their moral duty to turn me over to their opinion at all costs:
"And wouldn't the world be an exciting and vibrant place if we were all just like you."

As a side note, that last full paragraph was a rant worthy of Dennis Miller!
tuftears From: tuftears Date: January 25th, 2002 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

It's the booze!

Three things.

One. For some reason, the statement you quoted made me think "That's very fox."

Two. It seems to be clique behavior that leads to the kind of statements and attitude you describe. In. Out. Cool. Uncool. It's all about whether you hold up to the clique-leader's personal standards or not. Elitism as I view it, is more 'We possess cool trait Z, you do not, we rule, you drool'.

Three. I think a little elitism (per se and per my view) is fine. I do not believe that I am required to hang out/be friends with everyone who comes along and that we are all part of some global community of the Net and if I don't support that, I must be some kind of loner sicko who probably would haxx0r www.motherteresa.com or something. If I want to hang out with people I know and like or avoid hanging out with people I don't know or don't like, I'll do that, thank you.

On the other hand, I think it's a good idea to keep two senses handy: a sense of proportion, and a sense of humor.

So, there are my two cents' worth.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 25th, 2002 09:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Objective Quality

On the one hand, it's very easy to wield the concept of quality like a bloody club. I've been quite guilty of that in certain newsgroups in my time. On the other hand though, it's also very easy to squint at an issue for a moment and claim that because it's a taste issue there is no upfront way to apply criteria with which to begin to measure quality.

See, I think there is a point at which you can make objective quantifications about things like beer. You can look at the water: Is it out of the Milwaukee public water supply, is it spring water, or did they push it through a reverse-osmosis filter? You can look at the other ingredients that way too in terms of what grade of barley is used. Plus, I would think that you could observe the reproducability of the beer: Does the pint you down today taste reasonably the same as the pint you had last week?
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 25th, 2002 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Elitism

I think the real issue is the blind leap to equate "mass-produced" with "low-quality" in the "lowest common denominator" sense we generally hear applied to things like television and politicians. This conversion is at the heart of snobbery: looking down your nose at something because it's common or popular without regard to whatever merit it may have.
Personally, I've always seen an important difference between elitism and snobbery, at least as I label them.

I see elitism as a hierarchy through which one can move. Elitism is seniority in a union shop. It's having to prove worth, to demonstrate that it rightfully belongs among the elite and should be given consideration and included thus. It's like an old money family watching a new money family move in down the street and watch to see how they use their newfound wealth.

On the other hand, snobbery in my mind is more about the erection of barriers based on an arbitrarily-generated checklist. There's no thought or merit involved, simply a question of where you fail the test. "Oh, you're from the South Side?" *check* "Oh, your dad won the lottery?" *check* "You went to public school?" *check* "You find Carrot Top funny?" *check*

Again, there may be better words for what I'm expressing. But my philosophy on this is pretty simple. Elitism you can transcend. Snobbery is the glass ceiling for life.
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 26th, 2002 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Just hand over the Cuervo

Drink what you like, and give Cuervo to Shanedoll...
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 26th, 2002 12:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Hurting hands

Don't listen to anyone who tells you things like this. Remember - All beer is stinky to me. Hand over MORE Cuervo.

Shanedoll...
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 26th, 2002 12:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

beer and "beer"

I'm elitist, or snobbish (I'm not sure which) about beer to a certain extent -- the extent being that I don't believe in, um, Budweiser or any "light" beer -- I've tried and disliked enough of them to be fairly secure in this prejudice for the others. Not to the point of disliking the drinker, just to the point where I'll, like, throw a quarter across the table and say "Here, kiddo. Buy yourself a better drink." All in good fun, though -- she has her Bud on one side of the table, I have my Magic Hat or whatever on the other, and we tease back and forth about it for a while and then go back to watching hockey or whatever we were talking about.

There's beer that I just won't drink. Not all of it cheap beer or stigmatized beer... just what I call bad beer.

So come visit Cap in mid-February and let's drink good beer, whatever that means.

Lari
7 thoughts or Leave a thought