I feel like lately, I see more and more people copping to being some kind of “snob.” Music snobs. Beer snobs. Wine snobs. Book snobs. TV snobs. Food snobs. Fitness snobs. And the thing is, they don’t even say it in an embarrassed, yeah-I-know-I-shouldn’t kind of way. They’re proud to be snobs. They are proud to look down on others.
So it’s time to make something clear here.
It’s okay to have likes and dislikes. It’s okay to have opinions.
It is not okay to be a snob. Ever. For any reason.
This is especially relevant now that Aaron Fucking Sorkin has come out with a new show that’s been blasted for using the same kind of snobbery that pissed me off so much when he tried it with Studio 60. As usual, if you don’t like it, you’re too stupid to get it—or, despite being a reporter for a major newspaper, you’re a silly “Internet girl.” The fact that so many people defend what he says and does is what makes posts like this necessary.
So how do you know if you’re a snob or just expressing your opinion? It’s pretty easy. Let’s have a brief primer on what kinds of snobs there are and the things they say:
The Music Snob
One of the most infuriating kinds. You know those people—the ones who look down on you as a person if you like that overplayed pop song or that indie band who went too mainstream. The ones who consider pensive indie rock or less-mainstream classic rock the only music that matters. The ones who will tell you how wrong you are for listening to what you’re listening to. And 90% of the time, music snobs are people with no musical talent themselves. But they’re so good at listening, you guys! Their ears are so discriminating!
What it’s okay to say: “I actually don’t really like them. That one song gets on my nerves.”
“I did like them, but now they’re starting to annoy me.”
What it’s not okay to say: “I’m sorry, but I don’t understand how anyone can listen to them.”
“See, this is what you shouldbe listening to.”
*eye roll* “Is this [non-snobby band]? Really?”
The Beer Snob
Here’s the thing: beer is inherently something not snobby. It’s the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world. Historically, it’s been a drink for the masses, for the common man. Some people don’t like it, but most people who aren’t teetotalers have tried it at some point.
So of course people felt like they had to invent reasons to feel superior for drinking beer. Microbrews! Craft beer! Light beer sucks! You’re an idiot for drinking Miller and Bud!
And the worst part is, they consume their pretentious obscure brew so fucking slowly, because they want to savor it and not, of course, because it actually tastes like crap, that it’s going to be awhile before they get so drunk they forget to keep putting up the snobby charade.
What it’s okay to say: “I don’t really like that beer…it tastes too watered-down to me.”
“Have you ever tried this? I’ve been getting into craft beer lately.”
What it’s not okay to say: “I don’t know how you can drink that. You don’t think it tastes like shit?”
“Oh, come on. Don’t they have any good beer?”
The Wine Snob
This kind of snob has been around longer than the beer snob, and thankfully, it’s less culturally acceptable among people my age. You know exactly who these people are—people who, like the characters in Sideways, swirl the wine around in their glasses, stick their noses in to smell it before tasting, and go into monologues about the quality of the wine until people’s eyes glaze over. Save it for the country club dinner, dude.
What it’s okay to say: “I’ve been getting into wine tasting lately. It’s really interesting!”
What it’s not okay to say: Pretty much anything else. No one cares.
The Book Snob
Here’s where I should make something clear: there is a difference between snarking on something you don’t like and snarking on the people who enjoy that thing. On the TV front, I used to be a big fan of Television Without Pity, and on the book front, there’s nothing wrong with making fun of a particularly cringeworthy book. A few years ago, the Twilight series was the snark of choice, and now it seems like every other post on my Google Reader is about how much Fifty Shades of Gray sucks—Lorraine’sposts are especially funny. (For the record, I have never read Twilight or Fifty Shades of Gray and don’t plan to.)
What’s not okay is making fun of the people who read those books—stereotyping them, insulting their intelligence—or telling people that they shouldn’t read it, like Joel Stein did with young adult books. I’ve seen a lot of photos begging people not to read Fifty Shades of Gray. But my feeling about this, which I’ve expressed before, is that at least they’re reading something—in an age when books have never been more threatened, why would you want to discourage people from reading?
What it’s okay to say: “Oh, my God, [plot point or badly written phrase] is so ridiculous.”
What it’s not okay to say: “Don’t listen to her—she’s just some idiot who likes Twilight.”
The TV Snob
This is an unusual one because it has nothing to do with what the snob likes and everything to do with what the snob dislikes: reality TV, Two and a Half Men, and sometimes just TV in general. It’s funny—people don’t generally get snobby about watching critically acclaimed shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire, etc., but certain people will make sure to let you know what they think of you watching American Idol or Jersey Shore. I don’t think they realize that most people aren’t actually taking their reality shows that seriously. And if you’re one of those people who uses that tone to inform people that you don’t watch TV…um, kindly shut the fuck up. Contrary to what you may think, this makes you less interesting, not more.
What it’s okay to say: “I actually don’t have a TV. I just decided there were other things I’d rather spend my money on than cable.”
“I don’t really like reality shows. They’re all so staged.”
What it’s not okay to say: “Um, I don’t watch TV.”
“Um, I don’t watchreality shows.”
“You actually like that show?”
The Food Snob
There are about a million varieties of this one. There are the snobs who won’t eat in chain restaurants. The snobs who don’t eat junk food and make sure to let you know what they think of people who do. The snobs wholook down on you for eating meat. The snobs who look down on you for not eating organic. The snobs who look down on you for eating the healthy diet that you’re not forcing on anyone else.
Who really cares? This is a why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along kind of thing. You eat what you like, I’ll eat what I like, if we’re eating together we’ll figure out together what works for us. It’s really quite simple.
What it’s okay to say: “I don’t really like that restaurant. What about this one instead?”
“I’ve been trying to eat healthier—I found some really great organic recipes!”
What it’s not okay to say: “That is not food. How can you eat that?”
“You like Domino’s? Have you never had any other kind of pizza before?” (Side note: a friend of a friend actually said this to me once, and I kind of wanted to smack him.)
The Fitness Snob
So you work out. Great! You should be working out! You’re an inspiration to us all! But for the love of God, we do not need to hear about how much you work out and how we should all be doing it, too. Not everybody likes yoga or running or strength training. And those of us who do aren’t necessarily willing to run five miles at 6AM every day and then work out again at night. (So that I don’t sound bitter, I need to clarify that I’ve run two half marathons and am not averse to working out, just to hearing about how much other people do.) If someone asks you for workout tips, you give them—otherwise, you say nothing.
What it’s okay to say: “I’m really getting into running lately. It’s kind of addictive!”
“I’m really liking yoga. I feel great after I do it.”
What it’s not okay to say: “Oh, I feel so great after running five miles before work, like I do every day. Have you been working out lately?”
“The world would be a better place if everyone did yoga.” (I’ve mentioned this before, but someone actually said this to me at a party once.)
The Snobby Snob
Most people know better than to be this kind of snob, but some people have managed to surprise me. I had a roommate who went to Cornell and, like Andy on The Office, mentioned it every two seconds. His family had money and in his mind, anyone who didn’t come from a liberal, educated, East Coast background was probably stupid. The 2008 Democratic National Convention happened not long after I moved in, and when we watched this guy speak, after his great mention of how “we need a president who puts Barney Smith before Smith Barney,” my roommate said, “There’s no way he came up with that line himself.”
Yeah. I’m not even going to give examples of what to say and what not to say because, frankly, everyone should already know that.
I’m sure there are plenty of other kinds of snobs I haven’t mentioned. What other kinds of snobby things do people say that they shouldn’t?