Snobbishness - Why your superiority complex is the best
Brag about it
We think of snobs as the '“upper-class elite” but it is everywhere in society.
Snobbishness is the feeling that our tastes, abilities or way of thinking are superior. Leading us to look down on those inferior to us.
An obvious example is when meeting people and asking what they do. A queue to work out if we are fascinated by someone or desperately want to move on.
There are much more subtle ways that it seeps into society and even your own behaviour.
When we get VIP in a club or received a Covid shot before others it quickly impacts our heads and who we hang out with.
I’m totally not into football allegiances. I struggle to dedicate myself to any particular group of people I haven’t met running around with a ball, trying to beat a bunch of different people I also haven’t met.
It’s interesting to see fan dynamics though.
Manchester United has long been the successful club in Manchester rolling in money and with millions of fans from all over the world. Yet in Manchester, they all support Manchester City because that was historically the underdog club of Machester and the club for true Manchurians.
It’s the same a short bus ride away in Liverpool. Liverpool FC is a global success but the Liverpudlians are all for local underdog Everton FC.
What does that have to do with snobbishness?
Surely supporting the underdog is the opposite of snobbishness?
Supporting the popular club is too easy. Everyones doing it. To show that you are above others (a snob) you must be willing to support the team that keeps on losing through thick and thin.
Only a true fan would do that, unlike those glory supporters.
You can see the same on Twitter.
Yuval Noah Harari is the author of Sapiens, a book that popularised intellectual curiosity into the history and shaping of humanity. It was a huge bestseller. It covered high-level topics that helped readers understand and question who we are.
Yet over the years, people started to slam it. Not because it is bad but because it is popular. If normal people like it then it can’t be that good. Once intellectuals started to say that it was a bad book it made them sound above it, so anyone wanting to look intelligent agreed that it must be a bad book not worthy of their refined intelligence.
In both cases, this snobbishness controls their decisions. It makes them choose a side in society and feel accepted within an inner crowd.
Equally, it makes them reject having an easier life.
Costs and benefits
Historically, supporting Manchester United who won a lot was much more rewarding than Manchester City (until they were brought by billionaires…).
Reading well-written intelligent history is much nicer than inaccessible weighty tomes.
However, joining a smaller crowd makes sense as we can feel like an individual rather than a clone of the masses. There is a human need to be part of a group yet at the same time feel respected as an individual.
It isn’t completely illogical to seek some form of originality and a way to escape from the norm. Finding a way to class ourselves above others is a fundamental part of human nature that fits how we think of ourselves.
Our identity is not that of a very average, normal and beige member of society.
Snob to our core
A quirk of this is that we don’t just take on the costs whilst around our fellow group members. As it seeps into our identity it also infects our thoughts when the group isn’t around.
A cheap wine with lemonade in it ultimately tastes much better than a $100 wine on your taste receptor level. It is just your expectations, society and you’re feelings towards sugar that make you think you want the $100 experience more.
Most of the price of Starbucks goes to rent, heating costs, staff wages, and company profits - not the actual coffee. You’re paying for an organisation to exist, not for a better product.
People who don’t know the difference between “good” wine or coffee can put time and effort into artisanal learning. Before this, they were utterly alright not knowing the difference and they’re just paying to become opinionated.
(Even after they put the time in they can still be fooled by blind taste tests or thinking they like something that was described as expensive.)
You don’t actually have refined taste or a sensitive palate, you just have opinions.
Opinions that you didn’t create. Opinions that were given to you by society or a group you seek to belong to. Opinions that are part of your new identity because that is what someone with taste thinks.
Often the things we like have nothing to do with how good they are, it is just more difficult or more expensive and somehow that is cool.
It has no benefit on our lives, we are just peacocking.
Making our life more difficult is a performative act purely to impress, even when done for ourselves.
Whether we want to demonstrate to others our status or just prove to ourselves that we are above others - that’s snobbishness.
So perhaps it’s time to cut yourself down a block as an act of self-love.
Treat yourself to the idea that you aren’t tied to anything, there isn’t a right thing to do or a wrong thing to do.
(last week we learned that you're probably wrong about everything)
Your self-worth will not be defined by what you consume or like.
In fact, you are not defined by what you do. What is crucial is how you do it and how you make others feel doing it.
You can stop putting the anal in artisanal and relax.
No one will be remembered for liking slightly more expensive coffee, but you will be remembered if you make others feel bad for their choices.
Wherever you are in society it is human nature to have snobbish behaviours, as what pushes us apart from others brings us closer to our crowd.
If you’re going to be a snob about anything, try to make sure that you focus on internal improvement rather than external damnation.
There are many ways to do anything. Instead of expecting others to conform to our interests, we can cultivate a fascination with others’ interests.
We shouldn’t judge using external characteristics like tastes, jobs or clothes, but instead, focus on internal characteristics like kindness, warmth and honesty.
By valuing those things in others we learn to value them in ourselves 😇
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