Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Neither a Geek nor a Snob

The terms "geek" and "snob" get tossed around a lot these days. They're meant either as compliments or insults that describe someone who is obsessed with movies, literature, computers, wine, etc. A geek, the less offensive of the two terms, depicts someone who obsesses over something so much that basic social norms are ignored. Little else matters outside of his interests. A snob on the other hand, knows so much about her interest that she turns her nose up at anything that does not meet her incredibly high standards. She do this at the expense of others' feelings, putting her taste for things ahead of people.

Although I have been called both, I really don't fit either category. Despite my strong feelings and stubborn opinions on certain subjects, I have been able to break free of the constraints in which these terms circumscribe. In particular, I have been accused of being a geek or snob when it comes to my taste in music and beer, but I can prove that this is not true. I will admit that I have geeked out on a new album of turned my nose up at a bland beer. However, these actions do not limit me to either label.

Don't get me wrong. The world needs geeks and snobs. How else would we know what to consume if geeks hadn't done all the research and snobs let us make bad choices. I too partake in a bit of snobbery and geekery, so I see the appeal.

Beer has been my latest obsession. I've driven across state lines and had family bring me beer not available in Misery. I have a fairly large collection of beers just waiting to be tasted. Beers by Three Floyds, Dogfish Head, Stone, New Glarus, among others dominate my selection. I only drink these beers from the glass and I have even begun brewing my own.

However, fine, hand-crafted beers with intense flavors are not the only reason I drink. Just the other night, I had a Miller Lite with a friend who just welcomed two new additions to her family. Drinking that beer was not about the beer alone. We sat on her back porch, cracked open two cold ones, and shot the shit. That's all. Sometimes a beer just needs to wet your throat and act as a social lubricant. It doesn't have to wow you with large amounts of hops or a hint of raisins*. Sometimes a beer just has to be a beer while two friends talk about life.

Music has been a long-running fixation for me. I've gone without food and sleep in order to see some bands live. I've made regular trips to record stores every Tuesday when records are released. My homes have always been overrun with records and CD's. Among my favorites are such indie elites as Pavement, Sonic Youth, Arcade Fire, Joan of Arc, etc., etc. Hell, I have two other blogs just dedicated to my obsession with music.

The thing is, following bands, going to shows, and even just listening to records takes time and money I'm not willing to give up anymore. I'm missing nearly 75% of Pitchfork's end-of-year lists. I used to own those lists. People are telling me about bands. I can count somewhere in the neighborhood of ten or twelve shows I've not attended due to child care or the exhaustion associated with childcare. Lately, I find myself listening to the same albums over and over or just mindlessly playing the iPod on shuffle. And sometimes, I play the stupidest songs just to entertain my daughter.

What I've learned about these obsessions is that they shouldn't take the place of real human interaction or even the pure enjoyment of your interests. I don't want the fact that you didn't play Pavement at your party to keep me from hanging around to talk. It's not OK to turn down a beer from someone who invites you into their home. Sometimes holding onto one's mania keeps them from enjoying others, from enjoying life.

I don't want to shut people out because they don't share these interests with me. It's OK they like to listen to country music or drink Bud Light (although these factors can make things hard). I'd rather be, as a fellow beer enthusiast described, a "good snob" or geek. A good snob will share with you and provide you the resources to try something that might be better than what you're already into. A socially adept geek may take you to an event that demonstrates how excited a particular hobby can make them. It's really all about sharing and being a part of the community rather than shunning it.

So, when you see me or comment on the blog, realize that I am not limited to my interests. I would rather know you and share those interests than keep you out. And if you catch me being exclusionary, call me on it. I can take it.

*If you ever want to impress a beer snob, try something fancy and/or expensive and claim to taste raisins. It will impress every time.


jmenter said...

The only item I take issue with:

"It's not OK to turn down a beer from someone who invites you into their home."

So you're saying that if someone invites me into their home, offers me a PBR (which I know I don't like), and if I refuse that's not OK?

I don't see how a sane person can hold this position. And what kind of host would insist on guests imbibing something they're not comfortable with?

comoprozac said...

Depends on the situation. If it would insult the person to refuse the PBR, then you should buck up and eat your vegetables. Or if said PBR-offerer is depressed that his wife is leaving him and wants to talk about it over a beer, you will drink that PBR.

Otherwise, I agree with you. Don't do something you're not comfortable with just to avoid looking like a snob.

The best way around this situation is to bring good beers wherever you go...like, say, in a backpack complete with your own glasses. Know anyone who would do that?

Jamie said...

'The best way around this situation is to bring good beers wherever you go...like, say, in a backpack complete with your own glasses. Know anyone who would do that?'

What, is this wrong? Sounds pretty normal to me - standard visit to see the family...

comoprozac said...

Man, I am getting it from the beer sno...er...enthusiasts on this one.

Sure, it's OK to bring your beer and glasses in a backpack. I was just giving Jeff a hard time.

Jamie said...

I didn't say glasses...JM is a super snob/geek if he does that :-)

Making fun of myself more than anything for taking beer where ever I go, including to my BMC drinking family (although I have turned a few of them to the darkside).

comoprozac said...

Let's be honest, there is a world of difference between cheap, macrobrews and fine craft beer. It's really OK to share as much as possible. Hey, wait a minute. Isn't your site/blog called "The Beer Evangelist"? It all makes sense.

Jamie said...

Not my site... Not a blogger, just an internet beer spy.

jmenter said...

"I didn't say glasses...JM is a super snob/geek if he does that :-)"

Guilty as charged. One must have standards.

comoprozac said...

Actually, the glasses idea is not a bad one. I sort of wish there was a contraption for carrying glasses so that they don't break.