When Did We Become Such Snobs?

By Amanda Tonoli 

There is a hubcap missing on my precious car that I just got in April. This devastates me. I am so embarrassed when people see it, I can feel them silently judging me for this blemish on Jennifer — that’s my car’s name.

I am more concerned about my missing hubcap than buying Christmas gifts for my third cousin’s husband, once removed. I’m probably even more concerned than I am about saving money to purchase books for next semester. When did I become so selfish, snobby even, to prioritize my luxury of having a vehicle — sadly missing her hubcap — instead of caring about others during this season of giving?

What brought me back to reality was actually quite a simple, unimportant moment at work the other morning. While working the cold drive-thru of the trendy coffee shop, I asked my co-worker sporting a fuzzy coat, where she got such a treasure.

“Wal-Mart,” she replied, unashamed.

Just that simple response made me smile. How many times has anyone lied about where they got something in an effort to sound like they were better — above even — than to shop at the dreaded Wal-Mart?

The brutal honesty slapped me — just like this harsh, cruel weather every time I trek from Fedor to Williamson. Why am I such a snob about such petty things? Because they are petty in comparison to the real issues of the world.

That family practically freezing to death waiting outside the soup kitchen for a meal would probably love a $15 jacket from Wal-Mart as I scoff at it.

How about the single mom of two that walks to work everyday — probably uphill both ways — that would appreciate a nice car, to keep her warm, lessen her travel time and give her just a few more minutes with her kids in the morning, despite the missing hubcap?

In “Field Guide to the Snob: Some Like It Haute,” written on psychologytoday.com in May of 2009, Adelle Waldman starts her article with a story about a boy’s journey into becoming a snob — deeming him a social climber based on what he was raised with, expensive taste and privilege.

Waldman reports — from Leon Seltzer, a clinical psychologist — that being a snob is the tendency to look down on others. Looking down on others is bred into these snobs, for their expensive taste and materialistic focus was ingrained into them. We are truly a product of our environments. But can we overcome them?

Personally, I recognize that while I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I catch myself acting like someone who is too good for the grandeur of a cheap sweatshirt. But does that make me a snob?

“At its most extreme, snobbery can be a symptom of narcissistic personality disorder, a condition marked by grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a preoccupation with power and prestige,” Waldman said.

I’m not necessarily preoccupied with “power” and “prestige,” but I do enjoy being admired for having nice things — who doesn’t?

However, it is important to remember what time of year it is, maybe that will set all of us broke college students straight — materialistically anyways. ‘Tis the season to be grateful and give thanks for all that you have, regardless of the blemishes — for someone else may be striving for everything that you treat like nothing.