Everyone’s a little bit snobby

I’m just back from a vacation in Lake Placid with my husband’s entire family. The weather was wonderful and the hiking was fun. And while I’m sure my mother-in-law is waiting with bated breath to see what I’ll write about the week, I’ve decided that what happens in Lake Placid, stays in Lake Placid. There was, however, one interesting discussion that bears further exploration; the difference between being a snob, and an elitist. We did not reach consensus (or perhaps we did, and I can’t recall it because I was besotted, thanks to a 1983 Chateau d’Yquem Sauterne with which we were toasting our gathering). Strangely, though there were half a dozen iPhones in the group, and as many laptops, at the time, no one thought to look up the meanings of those words.

According to my trusty paperback edition of The Merriam Webster Dictionary (circa 1994) a snob is, “one who seeks association with persons of higher social position and looks down on those considered inferior,” and elite means, “the choice part; a superior group” (and “a typewriter type providing 12 characters to the inch,” which has no bearing on the discussion, but I’ve thrown it in to see if you’re paying attention). It seems clear from those definitions that if one feels no pressing need to associate with those higher up the class food chain, then they may well be the elite, which does not, however, preclude them from looking down on those they consider inferior, hence they are also snobs.

I embrace the philosophy originally espoused by Groucho Marx (though often incorrectly attributed to Woody Allen) that I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member. I guess that makes me a snob. But then, I maintain that we are all snobs; we all look down on those we consider inferior to us. If we consider them inferior, then we must, by definition, be looking down on them.

One of my favorite modern musicals, Avenue Q, has a song called, Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist. I encourage you to read the lyrics for yourself, as a quote taken out of context here might cause a flap, but the point I’m making is, it might just as well be called, Everyone’s A Little Bit Snobby.

There’s no doubt that the word snob has horrible connotations. Most people accused of being a snob would probably object strenuously, while glancing around to make sure no one overheard the accusation. Instead, maybe we should just embrace our inner snobs and comfort them with the knowledge that there’s always someone who is snobbier than we are, thereby making us look positively well-adjusted.

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5 responses to “Everyone’s a little bit snobby

  1. Ironically, I find myself envying you and your extended family for having vacations together in which such concepts are discussed. However, we just had our family vacation and spent it making a Twilight parody video. That was fun too. And then we forced the girls to watch Dr. Zhivago and learn about the horrors of war and the importance of the personal life.

  2. You’ve reminded me of the 1965 album by Tom Lehrer, That Was the Week That Was, which included the classic “National Brotherhood Week,” in which everyone hates someone. The album cut too close to the bone for my parents, to the point that my sister and I were not allowed to listen to it. But we delighted in playing it when our parents were out, especially the scandalous “Vatican Rag,” which, as you might imagine, poked delicious fun at the absurd rituals we were forced to act out each week.

  3. Welcome back. Hope you had a good trip.

    I guess we’re all a bit snobby. But I feel justified because they were acting snobby first!

  4. J’adore ton blog. Par contre je ne comprends pas pourquoi tu n’as pas fait allusion a la cuisine extraordinaire qui a ete concocte par certains membres de la famille, lors du sejour dans les Adirondacks.
    Mais est-ce bien snob de ma part de poser cette question?
    Belle mere

  5. Annette wrote –
    And then we forced the girls to watch Dr. Zhivago and learn about the horrors of war and the importance of the personal life.
    Hmmm – interesting child-rearing practice. Most of my father’s family did the WWII thing. Also my godfather – he, Tony, was a Ranger Captain much like Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan. Two beloved uncles were in D-Day. One jumped (para), the other stormed – both survived. If Annettes’s littles were boys I might (although I didn’t do it with M. and G.) consider showing them “We were soldiers once”. But, then they might ask WTF was that about. Beats me. My best buddy returns to Vietnam often. And consorts with vietnamese vets in Hanoi and further north. Fancy that.
    Never mind.

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