Thursday, December 16, 2010
Correct me if I'm wrong but it seems like a relatively recent development in US culture - or perhaps it's the culture of the Facebook nation? - to wear the label of "snob" lightly now. If one makes distinctions of quality between things in a set, one is invited to smirkingly excuse one's snobbery. If you love fine wines, you say are a "wine snob." If you like art films or critically acclaimed movies, you are a "film snob." I saw a commercial a while back in which a guy who likes brand names identifies himself as a "clothes snob." You can be a pancake snob, bottled water snob, pho snob, design snob, or a music snob. The appellation tends to address the products one consumes. That is, you can be a snob about the sorts of things you can also "like" on Facebook. This common meme is about tastes more than a concrete sense of class position, income, etc. A snob is not anymore an uptight, haughty, profit-seeking yuppy, but that yuppy can be a snob if he prefers to drink only the finest wines, in Reidel glasses. It is as though the distinguishing feature of the snob is no longer that he feels that those who diverge from his tastes and practices are inferior as persons, or that he pretends refinement & connoisseurship to gain in status, but merely that he seeks and trusts in his ability to make evaluative distinctions.