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Emerging from the champagne and caviar snobbery of New Years Eve, Ash Imani vows to take a moment and resist the urge to share his excruciatingly pretentious and snobby end of year top-ten lists.
“Snobbery,” an attitude once reserved for the English nobility, has well and truly become a common theme of our modern, faux-meritocratic society; a bunch of individuals desperately insecure in our sense of self worth, “insisting too loudly on a scale of values.”
Blindly mimicking the aristocratic delusion of defining ourselves with a “gold tap” of tastes and preferences, we share our end of year top-ten lists. We do this, not in the spirit of giving, but for the purpose of accumulating disdain for our peers: a convenient and more egalitarian substitute for wealth.
We’ve all scoffed at a friend who excitedly tells us about the latest band he’s listening to or rolled our eyes when we’ve caught our partner gleefully watching their favourite reality TV show. We all have an inner dickhead that can’t bear to see someone enjoying something we’ve arbitrarily determined is beneath human dignity.
We’ve also found ourselves, when our inner cynic isn’t paying attention, enjoying a show we’ve always mocked or bopping our heads to a song we’ve told anyone who would listen is the sole catalyst for the “idiotisation” of humanity.
When caught red-handed we’ve tried to rationalise our moment of weakness by saying things like, “It was an ironic laugh,” or “it was my automatic nervous system responding instinctively to rhythm; an evolutionary response to the sound of approaching predators” (ok, maybe that’s just me)… “It’s not like I really enjoyed it,” we’ve told ourselves and any witnesses to our fall from grace.
And recall the ghost of wankers past – that acquaintance who constantly and annoyingly frowns upon our taste in music, all the while bragging that they read the entire Fifty Shades collection in less than a week and have a strong opinion about who should play Christian in the film adaptation.
An understandable inconsistency. Attempting to conform to the entire spectrum of snobbery is immensely time and energy consuming and, if we feel the need to pander to fashion or food snobbery, ends up being an all too expensive pursuit. Those who do lay claim to some form of snobbish absolutism are sure to find, if they haven’t already, that they’ve successfully brainwashed themselves into being incapable of any enjoyment whatsoever.
Why do we do it to ourselves? This pseudo-nobility is an unfortunate and thoroughly modern by-product of the merger of meritocratic delusion and self-schema creation, that stubborn psychological practice we’ve all been forced into ever since our ancestors ruined the species by discovering self-consciousness and Descartes gifted it with epistemological credence.
And note the rise of equally destructive postmodern variations; the insouciant irony of those who consciously adopt tastes and preferences they secretly abhor, in order to mock the very notion of judgment. And those who refuse to enter into the realm of judgment at all, yet refuse so loudly and so often as to bring to mind the rebuke of Queen Gertrude to the Player Queen.
It was my automatic nervous system responding instinctively to rhythm; an evolutionary response to the sound of approaching predators (ok, maybe that’s just me)…
False detachment and pretension have well and truly taken on the status of virtue in this social experiment we call “living,” turning us into public relations consultants to our sense of self, meticulously constructing an identity we so desperately market to the world, often at the expense of our authentic selves. We’ve been doing it for so long, most of us would struggle to remember what it is we actually enjoy.
And there are those who lay claim to a deeper, more philosophical justification for their snobbery, adopting Mill’s notion of “higher pleasure” or the Kantian notion of the “sublime.” I’ve got news for you: neither Mill nor Kant was referring to the latest pretentious indie-electronic-folk-fusion band you read about in Pitchfork. You’ve just found a clever way of making peace with your inner wanker. In our modern Athenian theatre, the only philosopher worth listening to is Diogenes of Sinope with his accusations of “affectation” and “more affectation.”
In 2015, resolve to stand up to your inner douchebag and resist the temptation to incessantly mock the tastes of your family and friends. Trust me, you’ll find yourself miraculously being invited to more parties.
And the next time you catch yourself subconsciously singing along to the latest Justin Bieber track, pause, take a breath and own it. Even if only in that fleeting moment of weakness, when your personal PR machine took a backseat to your subconscious self, you were a Belieber. Live with it.