Come on, admit it. You’ll feel much better.
Warning: The following is a severe test of your attention span. You might want to grab a cup of coffee or whatever beverage it is that floats your boat before proceeding. Or just leave.
I try to be non-prejudiced and objective about most things, but sometimes, my clearly preconceived notions and biases on certain topics overwhelm my rational thought process. I proceed to flow with these elitist impulses, after which I end up feeling guilty. And I hate feeling guilty.
Don’t know what I’m talking about? Maybe an example will help concretise ideas.
You know that I spend a bulk of my summers travelling, flitting from one place to the next, a large chunk of which is conference-hopping. Consequently, I’ve sat through far more than my fair share of talks; some of which have been good, some, not-so. But (and I don’t know if I am supposed to be blurting this out), while the rest of the world is probably pondering over how good the research is, or how engrossing the speaker is, my first (and most critical) judgement of the “coolness of a talk” is based entirely on how the fonts and symbols are rendered on the projection screen.
Yes, I am being entirely serious.
If the person on the podium is not using a TeXed-up PDF with everything looking “just right” (as in gorgeous), my first reaction is to assume they aren’t “techy”, so they don’t know what they’re talking about. It might be stellar work, but my brain is already beginning to shut off as it’s concentrating on something else, like poorly anti-aliased fonts. I know this is wrong, but it’s an involuntary (even if socially conditioned) response; one that I can’t always control. And doing this sort of thing always gnaws on my insides for a lot longer than it ought to.
For the longest time, I thought I was alone in feeling this way, but as it turns out, really cool people can be this way as well (“…now I can’t stand to read papers that still do use it”). And, of-late, as I’ve been conversing with a few very different people, it’s becoming more and more clear.
EVERYONE’S A SNOB.
For instance, I was talking to the head chef at the university (of the calibre of the highly trained and skilled people who take part in those Iron Chef shows) during one of my baking expeditions. And guess what? He doesn’t eat tomatoes for over 8 months of the year. Apparently, they just don’t taste “right” when they’re off-season, and he can’t stand them.
Can you see?
Sure, it’s not in the same areas, but everyone has something that they honestly believe they’re so much better at, at which their understanding and skills are so much more refined at, … than the normal person, and clearly look down upon others from their high horses when they aren’t up to snuff in those regards.
But the thing I’ve realised is, once you’ve spent the time and gotten good at something, you probably are really more aware of what’s going on, and begin to understand the subtleties. That is just HOW IT IS. Just what is the big problem with rubbing this in the lesser mortal’s face from time to time?
Be it tomatoes, the anti-aliasing of fonts, rendering of symbols, fine wines, cheeses, quality of music recording/playback equipment, optics of the camera … anything. Deep down, everyone has something that they’re a snob about. Rather than feel guilty about it, realise that you’ve worked for it or are gifted, and this need to patronise the other folk is entirely normal; you’re almost entitled to it.
Like I keep saying, everyone’s a snob. Admit it. And let’s move on.
People around you have a problem with it?
Help them. Inform them. Show them what you know (flaunt it if need be), and they will either learn too or shut up.
It’s about time we stopped feeling guilty about the things we really should be proud of.
Addendum: My biggest issues in this regard (apart from the whole people-using-PowerPoint thing, that is) involve people using “crappy” equipment and lossy-formats (MP3) to listen to “crappy” music, and then mouthing-off about something trivial. Don’t know when a Mozart concerto transitions from an Adante to a Moderato? Well then, please shut up about the maximum bitrate of your IPod.
Out of curiosity, just what are those avenues you feel you’ve evolved to appreciate more than the average person? Food? Art? Punctuation? … Does it annoy you immensely when people constantly butcher what you hold so dear? Do you find yourself holding it against them, and regretting it later?
Feel free to chime in.