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"Too cool for the room" syndrome [Mar. 11th, 2010|11:21 am]
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Thanks to the "perfect storm" of the the Saints winning the Superbowl, the Olympics, the Academy Awards, and the final season of Lost, I finally feel the need to speak up on a topic that has been bugging me for a while.

Please stop pissing in other people's Wheaties.

I see the little digs all the time: "The question isn't whether curling should be an Olypmic sport, the question is why anyone would bother watching the Olympics at all!" "Why do you even care who wins a stupid championship game; you aren't playing in it!" "I can't imagine wasting my time with an awards show!"

The implication, of course, is, "My tastes are so superior to yours!"

(I even one time had a guy tell me he only listened to classical music, but only music written after 1850 because Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, etc., were far too melodic and he couldn't imagine how anyone could listen to them.)

If you think this makes you appear to be sophisticated and worldly, you are wrong. It only makes you look like a dick.

This is not to say there isn't room for critique of events or judgment as to whether certain activities have value. But there is a difference between saying, "I don't like sports" and saying, "I can't imagine why you anyone would be so stupid as to root for a team."

Because you know what, bucko? I bet there is at least one thing you do that other people might regard as a waste of time or weird.

Whenever Entertainment Weekly arrives and the front cover is devoted to American Idol, my first thought is that this is wasteful and ridiculous, because I do not watch Idol. Then I kick myself and remember that other people would find issues that thrill me to be kind of worthless.

Even if you only listen to classical music, only see foreign films, and only eat locally grown organic food and drink only French wines, someone out there is going to find you a weirdo. And the more you brag about your superiority, the bigger a dick you seem to the people around you. The NASCAR lover is not going to be persuaded to change her ways because you've sneered and called her a plebian, but she is going to know that you are an overbearing snob and not worthy of being taken seriously.

Feel free to make solid, well-considered arguments as to why certain activities might be genuinely unhealthy - Christopher Hitchens wrote an article about why the kneejerk nationalism of the Olympics damages international relations, and while I didn't agree with his conclusions I could appreciate his opinion. And there are good arguments to be made against certain activities: dogfighting is a cruel and ugly sport and is banned for a good reason; certain television shows such as "The Biggest Loser" show unhealthy approaches to self-improvement and can be damaging. There are a number of examples of activities in which people engage that genuinely should be examined.

But swanning about making statements regarding your personal superiority will get you the attention and respect you deserve. Which is to say, none.
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[User Picture]From: fionnbharro
2010-03-11 04:24 pm (UTC)

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I don't respond to silly posts about people's judgement and self-righteousness.

I hate self-righteousness.
[User Picture]From: fionnbharro
2010-03-11 04:25 pm (UTC)

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Oh, wait... I...

Damn.
[User Picture]From: shadesong
2010-03-11 04:27 pm (UTC)

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Amen, sister.
[User Picture]From: dragonsflame71
2010-03-11 04:30 pm (UTC)

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Right on!!!
[User Picture]From: justbeast
2010-03-11 04:30 pm (UTC)

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Hehehe, hear, hear.
[User Picture]From: icewolf010
2010-03-11 04:35 pm (UTC)

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Yay! This!
[User Picture]From: brujah
2010-03-11 04:36 pm (UTC)

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Your brain is sexy. I just thought you'd want to know. <3
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 04:53 pm (UTC)

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Aw... [blush]
[User Picture]From: aiela
2010-03-11 04:38 pm (UTC)

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I wanted to throw a rock at everyone who tweeted "Oh hee! The Academy Awards? Oh, are those tonight? I had no idea, I don't pay attention to such things!" in this superior-tone of "That is SO beneath me!"

People post/tweet about stuff I don't like/don't care about all the time. I don't immediately feel the need to point out that I don't find it a worthwhile way to spend my time.

If only everyone could just shush about things they don't care about.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 04:55 pm (UTC)

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Exactly. Gods know I am often skimming past things that don't interest me, but the arrogance of scolding people for posting about such things is amazing.
[User Picture]From: funwithrage
2010-03-11 04:39 pm (UTC)

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Heh, yes. Also? Do not assume that "sophisticated" tastes can't exist side-by-side with "plebian" ones.

I read Laurel K. Hamilton--at least the elf porn, can't identify with Anita--watch Disney musicals, and listen to cheesy eighties music. I also read Austen, watch The West Wing, and can recite Leonard Cohen lyrics at the drop of a hat*, just as I can dress up and act nicely for my parents or an interview and then wear jeans and a tank top and use the word "dick" thirty-five times in a conversation with friends. Life's too short to restrict myself to just one role, and I like my cheese now and then.

*I don't, admittedly, go for anything with a downer ending or much industrial or experimental music, and there are genres I like more than others on average, but otherwise my taste is pretty wide.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 04:57 pm (UTC)

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Oh, definitely. I have a hearty love for things all up and down the spectrum. Yes, there are things I don't like, but I am not so solipsistic as to think that others shouldn't like them simply because I don't.
[User Picture]From: sestree
2010-03-11 04:44 pm (UTC)

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(I even one time had a guy tell me he only listened to classical music, but only music written after 1850 because Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, etc., were far too melodic and he couldn't imagine how anyone could listen to them.)

Whoa - ok that's a first and I minored in music in a liberal arts type college.

Speaking of though, one of the most self-actualized professors I had, only played baroque music and built his own musical instruments. However, he was front row center when our percussion ensemble played Percussion for 5 on kitchen sinks.

He was front row center ... and grinning from ear to ear (or should I say earplug to earplug :D).

Now that's class :)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 04:59 pm (UTC)

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Yeah, I definitely had no real answer for the weirdness of that. And yay for that prof!
[User Picture]From: darthfox
2010-03-11 04:47 pm (UTC)

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Yes, quite. My friend cereta has been wishing people would quit pissing in other people's Cheerios for lo, these many years, and of course the type of cereal is not the main point. :-) I do agree with her, though, that in a world like the internet, what a person says or does in her own space is her own business - rag on curling all you want over in your own living room, I don't care. But if you come in to my living room, where I'm watching the game and enjoying it, and start in? That harshes my buzz, and totally ruins my breakfast.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 05:07 pm (UTC)

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Yes, your own journal is a place one can say such things. But still risk looking like a jerk.
[User Picture]From: custardfairy
2010-03-11 04:51 pm (UTC)

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I love you! I love you!

I find myself doing this occasionally and try to stop myself. I loathe reality TV in most incarnations, but I also feel that people have a right to watch they want. After all, I am the crazy lady who collects vintage cookbooks and then posts them on the internet. Granted, I post them so I can mock the horrendous technicolor and questionable recipes. And yet! Even though I mock them, I respect that some people may find the photos appealing and the recipes delicious.

Full circle. Or something. Whee!
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 05:09 pm (UTC)

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Having trouble comprehending how people can like what we don't like is normal. Respecting those differences is civility.
[User Picture]From: mystic_savage
2010-03-11 04:53 pm (UTC)

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Awesome, awesome, awesome. You are made of the awesome. Anyone who puts their creative or athletic energy into anything other than lighting people on fire at the bus stop deserves some kind of respect just for *doing* something.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 05:09 pm (UTC)

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Thank you!
[User Picture]From: dmorr
2010-03-11 04:58 pm (UTC)

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Great piece, I wholeheartedly agree.

One tiny note though: I don't think "plebiscite" means what you think it means. You probably meant "plebeian".

Though to be fair the NASCAR lover ain't likely to know the difference either. :)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 05:11 pm (UTC)

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Argh, you're right. This is what comes from writing and talking. Will fix! Thanks.
[User Picture]From: quennessa
2010-03-11 05:01 pm (UTC)

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*insert Garth & Wayne bowing down here*

That was AWESOME.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 05:12 pm (UTC)

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Thank you!
[User Picture]From: demiurgent
2010-03-11 05:06 pm (UTC)

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Oh Lord yes.

Nicely, nicely said.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 05:12 pm (UTC)

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Thanks!
[User Picture]From: sunfell
2010-03-11 05:07 pm (UTC)

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I know people who love me because I like Star Trek. And I know people who look down their noses at me for the exact same reason.

Same with all the things I enjoy. Hey, it's my life, so if I choose to listen to Lady Gaga, then go and listen to a Mozart concerto, while eating a California Roll or drinking wine that came from a -gasp!- screw top bottle, it's my choice, right?

Anyone who actively disses stuff I like for no good reason- except that they're snobbish asshats- quickly gets the po-faced cold shoulder from me. I detest pretentious, self-righteous, self-important snobs. I hate editing such people out of my life, but hey- life (and time) is too short to have such unpleasant beings in eye- or ear-shot.

Mind you- I do not mind constructive criticism, or dissenting opinions- if they are well thought out- but hating something because it is popular is really silly. It just red-flags a person in my mind.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 05:15 pm (UTC)

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Yup. It's perfectly fine to dislike something; it's even okay to regard something as pretty damned ridiculous. It's just as important that some of the things I like are pretty damned ridiculous, too!
[User Picture]From: nounsandverbs
2010-03-11 05:10 pm (UTC)

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The NASCAR lover is not going to be persuaded to change her ways because you've sneered and called her a plebiscite, but she is going to know that you are an overbearing snob and not worthy of being taken seriously.

... because you don't know what "plebiscite" means. :)

I think the great Tom Lehrer said it best: "I'm sure we agree we ought to love one another, and I know that there are some people out there who do not love their fellow human beings, AND I HATE PEOPLE LIKE THAT!!!"

You are right on, as always.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 05:16 pm (UTC)

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Yeah, I saw that I fucked that up; changed. And properly ashamed.
[User Picture]From: anivair
2010-03-11 05:13 pm (UTC)

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Yes and more yes.
Now, I will be the first to lambast something I don't like. I hate a lot of things. Republicans, Windows, Idol, Soap Operas, Pizza Hut ...

but *I* don't like those things. others do and that's fine. Now, i won't be absurd about it. You're allowed to LIKE Rush Limbaugh, but I'll gladly tell you that he's a liar and a fraud. You can like Pizza Hut, but I'll gladly tell you that it's low quality pizza with cheap ingredients and suggest that you might like pizza from someplace I like.

but I won't call you dumb just for liking something, nor will I imply that you liking it and me not (or vice versa) makes me better. And that is really the key there.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 05:21 pm (UTC)

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Okay, except maybe Rush.

;-)
[User Picture]From: annalytical
2010-03-11 05:26 pm (UTC)

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May I link this on my facebook? (I am on your husband's LJ friend list) I think you're brilliant! :-)
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 05:45 pm (UTC)

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Sure! And thanks!
[User Picture]From: walkertxkitty
2010-03-11 05:28 pm (UTC)

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Yes, with a caveat:

When I say "I can't imagine..." I really can't. I do, however, follow it up with a warmly worded encouraging invitation for the person to try persuading me or to at least share their passion for whatever it is they're doing that I can't comprehend.

Sometimes, they win a convert. I used to hate football. Now I never miss a Saints game on the rare occasions when they're broadcast here. I didn't understand curling; not only do I understand it now, but I want one of the weights because they're so cool AND I recently learned they're part of my Scots heritage.

Other times, we just have to agree to disagree. I will never care much for popular culture. I tried watching Lost and it hurt my head. American Idol was only interesting to me during the preliminary auditions. I yawn when exposed to most Olympic sports.

The thing to remember is, it's okay to have differences in taste. Like you said, however, it's not okay to make someone else feel bad about theirs.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 05:47 pm (UTC)

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An invitation to help one understand is a completely different thing. And yay for expanding horizons!
[User Picture]From: sacramentalist
2010-03-11 05:32 pm (UTC)

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DON'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!

---

Hey, you know what bothers me? It's whenever there's a discussion about television, and several people will chirp up that they don't have a television, like it's significant. "Lookit me! I don't have a TV." Good for you. Now let us uncool kids talk about TV.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 05:48 pm (UTC)

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Yup, that's another good one.
[User Picture]From: bart_calendar
2010-03-11 05:34 pm (UTC)

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A lot of it depends on context. I think it's perfectly fine to be ridiculously self righteous among friends as long as it's clear you are teasing each other.

A lot of my friends really, really like to watch soccer and joke that I'm a fag because I don't.

I just to just say "I don't like sports."

Now, I pretend to be all huffy and say "you are the ones who like to watch sweaty guys play with balls."

But I wouldn't do that with people out of context.

Also, Hall & Oates fans are fair game in any context.

[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 05:50 pm (UTC)

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That's entirely different than the people who were actively demanding a certain NOLA personality to stop posting about football because of how lame it was for him to care.

Dicks.
[User Picture]From: ahsirakh
2010-03-11 05:37 pm (UTC)

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I'd like to float an exception: Gossip. Not just any sort of gossip, but the kind of self-righteous, sneering gossip that surrounded the Tiger Woods case, and is now surrounding a similar case (married celeb turns out to be sleeping around! gasp!) here in my country. I mean, I know why people are so morbidly interested in it, but I can't help but look down on them for poking into other people's private lives and then judging them for-- what? not being as moral as they?
[User Picture]From: xiphias
2010-03-11 05:43 pm (UTC)

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I believe that gossip is immoral, unethical, and dishonorable (with certain exceptions based on genuine need-to-know situations).

I consider ice dancing to be boring.

This means that, if someone else likes ice dancing, and I don't, then that person gets to enjoy one more thing in life than I do. I don't begrudge them that -- the more joy in the world, the better, and, if someone else gets joy from it, that's plenty of reason for it to exist.

However, if someone else likes gossip, that's immoral, and indulging in it is harmful. Therefore, looking down on that is an understandable response.

That said, even though I find gossip to be immoral, unethical, and dishonorable, it is nearly the only immoral, unethical, dishonorable activity which I cannot stop myself from engaging in. Hardest sin in the WORLD to avoid, I think.
[User Picture]From: xiphias
2010-03-11 05:39 pm (UTC)

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Yup.

If some people have fun with an activity, and you don't, the only thing that means is that they're having more fun than you are.

Seriously, there's nothing wrong with not liking things. There IS something wrong with not liking OTHER people liking things.

Well, unless you have a moral objection to the thing being done at all, such as some people feel about bearbaiting, cockfighting, and bullfighting, for instance. If you're willing to stand up and make a real argument that the action in question is actually morally and ethically wrong, okay, that's an exception.

But, barring that? Feeling superior because you don't enjoy something that other people enjoy? Pretty good way to make sure that you don't make any friends, really.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 05:57 pm (UTC)

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You said it all, and much more succinctly!
[User Picture]From: daemonnoire
2010-03-11 05:46 pm (UTC)

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I once had a guy horn in on a discussion about beer to declare that he only drank home brews, because their quality was superior to any commercially available beer. He got about five seconds of stunned silence from the group he'd made this declaration to, who had previously been discussing topics ranging from locally available microbrews, the difference between Guinness in Ireland and the US, and the eternal "cans verses bottle" debate. I then pointed out that home brews were just as likely to produce crappy beer, and their hand crafted-ness didn't automatically make them superior. He attempted to stumble through a "Yes, but" for a bit, and was thereafter ignored by everyone else.
[User Picture]From: zoethe
2010-03-11 06:02 pm (UTC)

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Yup. Lovely how people handily brand themselves "asshole" and save people having to spend much time paying attention to them!
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