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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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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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 ...

Where You Shop

When I was in high school, I bought my girlfriend a necklace from Walmart. Of course, I wasn't able to buy something flashy and expensive -- I was 16 and raked lawns for a week to come up with the money. When I gave it to her, she was overjoyed. She asked me where I bought it, and I told her. I had no sooner said the name of the store when she just sort of deflated -- her expression changing from an ear-to-ear smile to that look you get when you're pretending to laugh off a joke that actually offended you to the point of inducing vomit. It didn't matter that she was still holding the same necklace in her hands that made her smile five seconds ago. Everything had changed.

God, I still remember that look.

I learned growing up that if you buy your clothes from Kmart or Dollar General, people will give you so much shit, you'll recategorize the word "humanity" as a nonsensical sci-fi term like it was fucking Klingon. Buy a new couch from a furniture store, and your friends will compliment you on it. Tell them that you got it at a secondhand store, and they'll look at you like you picked it up from the curb outside of a crack house. At the very least, you'll hear, "Really? I'd be too afraid to buy furniture there. You don't know what's been on that." Ironically, if they knew what I'd done on it, they would burn my entire house down out of sheer moral obligation.

However, I've found a really bizarre twist to those secondhand stores. If you're buying what you need from them, people will scoff. But if you tell people you're "antique" shopping, it's perfectly acceptable.

"Wait, you're just decorating your house with it? Phew, for a second there, I almost thought you were a poor piece of shit."

What will never be acceptable to anyone outside of your like-minded circle of friends, however, is your ...

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Political Alignment

Last November, I wrote a piece on the Occupy Wall Street generation, and the first point was about how we've made the current generation of workers ashamed and afraid of taking certain jobs. A week or so later, Newt Gingrich started bringing up the same point in interviews as a platform for his campaign. When I told friends and family about this, the reaction was baffling.

My family is comprised of nothing but teenage girls.

The general response was, "Wait, so you support Newt Gingrich?" What? When did I say that? I was just shocked that a political figure was using one of my article points as a campaign strategy. I thought it was interesting, and I got a laugh out of picturing him using other article points like referring to his ridiculously large penis or coming up with creative uses for the word "asshole." That doesn't mean that he and I share beliefs. But since my friends now associated me with that crossover, I had to explain my political standing at the risk of them assigning their own assumptions.

Where politics are concerned, the average citizen tends to choose a side and then meticulously pick apart the opposition's values until there's nothing left but toenails and ass hair. We laugh with our like-minded friends over silly statements the other side made, much in the same way that we'd discuss the antics of a rebellious 13-year-old -- slightly angry that they're acting out, but trying to keep in mind that they don't know any better because they're not as smart or experienced as we adults.

"Hahaha! He believes things!"

The danger is that we've let that spill over into our everyday life. Seeing a George Bush bumper sticker back in 2001 told you that the occupants were flag-waving, gun-toting, all-American ass kickers -- you have to remember that after 9/11, his approval ratings were around 90 percent. Seeing the same sticker in 2009, we'd generally perceive those people to be blind sheep fooled by the government conspiracy machine. Without knowing a single thing about the actual people inside that car (including if it's just some guy borrowing it from a friend), we've defined them by what we assumed to be their politics, and we use that to fuel our scoff missile. It's almost entertaining for us to look down on people because of their political standing. Just ask Jon Stewart -- that is if you can make it through his money moat.

Careful, though. That tower contains cannons that shoot servants at you.

Oh, speaking of which ...

Taste in Entertainment

This is by the far the most common form of scoffing you'll ever see. You can even instigate it with minimal effort by simply going into any forum, anywhere on the Internet, and starting a thread about your favorite band. I promise you that unless the forum has specific rules against it and moderators in place to delete the replies, you'll have people giving you shit within minutes. Especially if your favorite band happens to be something like Linkin Park or the aforementioned Nickelback.

People take their entertainment very seriously, because there is a raw emotional connection to things like movies and music. A large part of our personality is invested in entertainment, and when someone insults our taste in it, they are directly insulting us as humans on an intimately personal level.

I don't know, man. Nine Inch Nails is just getting weird.

But if you really feel like stirring up some shit, start up a conversation about comedy. Specifically, say on a public forum that you think Dane Cook is really funny. Or that Patton Oswalt isn't. People will lose their fucking minds, and if you can make it through the ensuing bile and sewage that explodes from those replies, you will walk away wanting to punch life back into its primordial state and just declare a do-over.

But we all do it, even if our reaction to someone saying that they love Larry the Cable Guy is just a simple "Really?" It's the way that word implies, "Are you joking when you say that? I didn't expect you to have such shitty, unrefined taste in comedy. I expected better from you." We assume that fans of this type of comedy are not only rednecks, but also extraordinarily stupid, and we love to scoff at those people. Back in 2007, David Cross addressed Larry the Cable Guy in an open letter, responding to Larry's claim that "You don't know my audience":

You have to admit that you kind of asked for this one, Larry ...

"I remember thinking (occasionally, not all the time) 'what a bunch of dumb redneck, easily entertained, ignorant motherfuckers. I can't believe the stupid shit they think is funny.' So, yes, I do know your audience, and they suck. And they're simple."

Now don't get me wrong here, I don't blame Cross for any of the things he said. That exchange was incredibly funny to me. And I'm not taking a holier-than-thou stance on it because I've done every single thing on this list. I'd be willing to bet that of all the people who read this article, I could fit the ones who haven't done it in my bathtub at the same time. But what I am saying is that when you take a step back from it and look at it from an outside eye, doesn't it seem a little ... I dunno ... disgusting? Maybe that's something I need to work on.

For more Cheese, check out 6 Things Our Kids Just Plain Won't Get and 7 Terrible Life Lessons Learned from 'The Neverending Story'.

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