Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A Navel-Gaze on Snobbishness

Here's one of the most common things that friends and acquaintances tell me after knowing me for a few months:

"You seemed like such a snob when I met you."

Of course, they're quick to add that they no longer think I'm a snob, "now that I know you."

It's kind of frustrating. Snobbishness isn't a part of my nature, but I'm often mistaken for a snob and even accused of snobbishness. Why?

Here's why:

1. I appear to ignore people, when the truth is, I don't know they're talking to me (due to my hearing loss).

2. I'm one of those people who get really focused on what I'm doing. That, compared with the hearing loss, gives an impression of aloofness and an attitude of "what I'm doing is so much more important than you." (I don't have this attitude ... unless what I'm doing really IS more important.) :-)

3. I love classical music and will talk nonstop about it if I get the chance. I've been accused of musical snobbishness. I can't help it if I think that Bach and Mozart and Beethoven are far greater than today's popular country music or hip-hop. They just ARE. And, in my thinking, if someone doesn't appreciate Bach or the other "greats," it's likely because (1) they haven't been properly introduced to them, and/or (2) they've really never listened to them, or learned to listen to them. Many people seem prejudiced against classical music without even giving it a fair chance.

4. I love "serious" literature and have little patience for books that I find blatantly formulaic and emotionally manipulative. Same goes for movies (and music, come to think of it). Formulaic is OK, but if it's something is so formulaic that I find myself musing about "acts" and "scenes" and predicting what's going to happen next rather than just enjoying the book or movie ... then my enjoyment is greatly lessened. I also don't like it when movies and books try to beat you over the head with obvious metaphors. Sometimes subtlety is everything. Hackneyed symbolism and metaphors that scream, "LOOK AT ME!" are just insulting.

Note: My enjoyment factor can be increased (balanced out) if the main character (in a movie) is Harrison Ford.

5. I am an introvert and, nine times out of ten, will choose to hang out with my notebook or my piano rather than looking for people to visit and places to go with them.

6. I find small talk infinitely boring and avoid small-talk situations like the plague. If I do find myself in such a situation, I tend to space out against my will. Then ... I guess I really am ignoring people then. But not on purpose.

There are plenty of other reasons that people have thought I was a snob. But usually the main reason is the way I seem to ignore people when I'm not really hearing them.

Soooo ... the moral of this story is this: the next time you get irritated with someone who seems to be ignoring you for no reason whatsoever ... remind yourself that they may be (1) hard of hearing, or (2) very focused on their own internal television or their work and unaware that you're talking to them.

And don't write people off just because they love Mozart or Tolstoy and have little patience for most pop stuff. You never know--you just might learn something from them. And they could probably learn some things from you, too.

Usually, people will realize that I'm not such a snob because I don't have an attitude of superiority. If I do have an attitude, it's definitely more on the "inferiority" end. I'm pretty much a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get kind of person. Even though I'm not particularly sociable or talkative.

Can you tell my feelings have been hurt today? I'm feeling a little sorry for myself. I'll get over it. Maybe I'll make up some fart and booger jokes, just to make myself laugh and shake myself out of this Mistaken-Snob-Induced funk.

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