A couple of days ago I was talking to a friend about music, and within 30 seconds we were making fun of Nickelback. Half a minute after that, we were ripping on their fans. At the time, we were just two guys looking down our noses and laughing at a fan base and a form of music we considered beneath us. But after that conversation, I kind of felt like a douchebag. Not for making fun of Nickelback, because that band really does suck, but for damning their fans. What made me think that my taste in music made me any more important or intelligent than them?
We as humans do this constantly. I'm not referring to just the elitist assholes who lord obscure knowledge over us like an approaching thunderstorm made of anus. I'm talking about average, everyday people who judge a person entirely on meaningless things like ...
#6. Where You Work
Regular readers know that I used to work at a truck wash for big tractor/trailers. In 15 years of employment there, there wasn't a single day when I was proud to tell someone what I did for a living. In fact, if I was meeting a stranger for the first time and I knew that there was no chance of us ever seeing each other again, I'd flat out lie. "Oh, you're a lawyer? That's awesome. I build nuclear warheads with my penis."
I did it because I knew the reaction my job produced wasn't one of interest. It was one of sympathy. "Well, hey, at least you have a job, right? Not many people can say that in this economy." As if I needed the reassurance of a stranger to justify my occupation.
"I appreciate you saying so, sir. Now if you don't mind, I have some of your food to shit in."
Of course, we've all felt that satisfying mixture of pity and superiority that comes from seeing a stranger doing a crappy job. When we see a middle-aged woman working the McDonald's drive-through, we immediately assume she's uneducated and barely employable. She's "stuck" working a fast food job. It never occurs to us that she may be intentionally working her way up the ladder to become a manager -- a job that pays an average of $40,000 a year. Or that this isn't her only job, and she's busting her ass, doing whatever it takes to survive. Or that, of the 50 applications she put out over the last half a year, this was the only job that replied.
"So that's a No. 4 with a large go fuck yourself? Anything else I can get for you, you arrogant cocksucker?"
Instead we scoff, because it makes us feel better about where we are in life. "Yeah, I may stack boxes in the dildo factory, but at least I don't flip burgers for a living." In doing that, we're justifying our own occupations to ourselves. And since it happens so often, we know for a fact that those in better careers are looking at us through that same judgmental lens. No matter what our level of employment, scoffing at others for how they make their money is our means of comforting ourselves, because at least we're not that poor bastard who picks up my trash.
"All it takes is for me to slip one human hand in here and we never see you again."
And God help you if you work the night shift, because you'll definitely be getting shit for ...
#5. Sleeping Late
I've always been a night person. Some of my best writing happens at three in the morning when the house is totally silent and I don't have daily chores looming over me like paparazzi at a celebrity funeral. It feels like the whole world is asleep except for me. It's peaceful, and I need that feeling of isolation to help me concentrate and create.
But even when I was working manual-labor jobs, I still preferred the night shift. I got in the habit of staying up until daybreak and then sleeping until early afternoon, and that schedule has worked for me ever since. But holy shit, did people ever look down on me for it.
"Goddamnit, leave me alone!"
People assume that late sleepers are lazy and unproductive. They're lumped in with people who stay up all night partying, dancing in a drug-fueled craze while wearing aluminum foil pants and stuffing glow sticks in their asses, then sleeping away the day because of the ensuing hangover. Or teenagers on summer break who spend the night playing video games, shouting racial slurs at each other over headsets and ignoring the importance of getting up at the crack of dawn like a "normal" adult. Or worse yet, they picture us going to bed at the same time as them but just choosing to sleep for the next 16 hours because we think our body deserves more sleep than theirs.
Of course, most of us night people sleep the same amount of time as people who keep more regular hours. We're just shifting our active schedule to a different time of day. While they're asleep, we're working just as hard as they did when the sun was out. We're equally as productive -- just not at 9 a.m.
My yearly clock budget is in the thousands.
But still they scoff, because to them, we're immature. Real adults start their day when the local businesses open and go to bed when late night talk shows are over. People who are just getting started when Letterman ends might be more productive than them (and in creative industries, that's often the case), but the sight of someone in their bathrobe any time after 11 a.m. is just too much for some people to deal with. It's automatically assumed that we're sleeping our day away while respectable society carries us on their back.
"I'm sleeping because I just hate responsibility that much."
But before you decide to try out the lifestyle of the Daywalkers and invest in a fancy computerized alarm clock to help you wake up, be warned that you'll be scoffed at for ...
#4. The Technology You Buy
I have friends who are militant Mac advocates. They're constantly on me to switch from my archaic PC because "Mac is so much better at processing video." When I tell them that I don't really create video and that my PC does everything I need it to do, they assure me I'm being unreasonable, and go off to rub their boners together while talking about what the next iPad might look like. Evidently, I'm supporting The Man because I choose to use Windows instead of whatever jungle cat the current Mac operating system is naming itself after.
Get the most out of your computer by using Toothy Scar-Eye.
It's the same with video game consoles. "You play an Xbox 360? Pfft. You haven't lived until you've played a PS3." If you have tech-savvy friends, you'll hear it no matter what you buy. TVs, phones, computer monitors, speakers ... pretty much anything that uses electricity, they know of or own something better. And it's enough to make you want to grab their far superior technology and beat them with it until transistors flake off of their skulls like Terminator dandruff.
Now, I understand that if you're a tech person and you see a friend about to make a mistake by purchasing something truly shitty, it's your duty to step up and give them a warning. "I know this tower is cheaper, but the reason is because there's no room for upgrades, and the components will be obsolete within a year. Paying a little extra for the other one will save you hundreds in the long run." But that's not what we're doing when we scoff.
"Oh, that's so cute. Look at him, thinking he knows things."
Scoffing is dismissive -- it's not helpful. It allows us to write people off. And if we're not writing you off for what you buy, we're doing it because of ...