What Is It About Snobbery?

“Snobbishness is the desire for what divides men and the inability to value what unites them.” – Hugh KingsmillLet it Be

Running Snobbery, posted in February 2013, was viewed more than any of the 206 posts I’ve written over the past three years. What makes Snobbery such an interesting topic? Why are people drawn to behavior that most of us abhor? Here is my theory.

The story of David beating Goliath lifts the spirit, elevates the human condition, just like rooting for the underdog or reveling in rags-to-riches stories. I mean who roots for a team that is stacked with number one draft picks, unless of course they are the home team. It’s the reason that the 1980 Olympic Hockey Team that beat the Russians in the game referred to as the Miracle on Ice is timelessly iconic. The win came before Olympic teams recruited professional players, and a bunch of American college kids upset arguably the most feared elite international hockey team ever.

This is a roundabout way of saying that the world is made up predominantly of commoners like me. I’ve always found people who base their self-worth on apparel they wear, cars they drive or clubs they belong to as somewhat of a mystery. Just as baffling are those who become the titles they carry, say Chief Financial Officer or Director. I often wonder what would happen if such a person were cornered in an alley by a bunch of thugs and said, “Don’t touch me, I’m CEO of Acme Condom, Inc.” My guess is that the threat wouldn’t impress a guy who did time in the joint for armed robbery or aggravated assault.

Nothing drives me around the bend more than a beginner runner telling me they are intimidated to enter a race. I go through my spiel to convince them that at its essence, whether a 5K, 10K or ultra-marathon, it’s only running, that thing we’ve all been doing since we let go of the coffee table as toddlers. And when it comes to running, the majority of us are in the same boat, with the same type oars and same kind of life jacket. Jump into the pack and you’ll realize everyone else is just like you.

I’ve been a runner my entire life, and I don’t like to stereotype people. I’ve met elites as humble as Mother Theresa and actors who think they are future Olympians. I just can’t help poking fun at those who get orgasmic over a particular label on the products they use or clothes they wear.

The Running Snobbery post of November 2013 is an excerpt from Twenty-four Years to Boston. Read the original post here.

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About Jim Brennan

Jim is a Philadelphia-based writer, author, poet and editor for the Schuylkill Valley Journal.
This entry was posted in 24 Years to Boston, Health, Running and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to What Is It About Snobbery?

  1. Jim – ha! Perfect timing for me to have a moment to read.

    Oh the work/school year I’ve had and JesusMaryAndJoseph my re-entry into the work world of elite vs humble was a painful one indeed.

    I love the line about : Gimme a break , we ‘re all toddlers doing our thing buster.

    Our runner son just graduated and make it to state for track 4×400 I think it was called.

    Hope you are well,

    Kate

    Sent from my iPhone

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    • Jim Brennan says:

      Congrats on making it through the school year intact, Kate. And congrats on your son making states. That’s a big deal! Yahoo! Thanks for stopping by.
      jim

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      • You’re welcome Jim – and thanks, yes. Wiping brow. You know of what I speak! had his first run this week with upper classmen from the college that he plans to run for and study – so excited for him. Such a smart kid – your writing helps me understand him better. He doesn’t run to win. I’m starting to think that he runs to give his mental engine a break for a while.

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        • Jim Brennan says:

          Running is a great stress reliever. It’s scientifically proven. Some psychiatrists recommend cardio exercise for patients for mental and emotional balance and to relieve stress. When life gets most hectic a long run helps you sort things out and recharge your “mental engine” as you say.

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  2. Awesome post, Jim! I couldn’t agree more – one of the things I love most about running is how it unites people. Take any group run or race, and chances are that you have folk from all walks of life, all ages, all professions, etc. doing something they all enjoy together. And as for the fancy gear, I find it entertaining. Here we are, with hundreds, no thousands of products that are suppose to enhance our running, but if you look at race times, the progression has been slow and steady. Running isn’t about what shoes you wear or the technicality of your t-shirt. It’s about human spirit, training for fitness and having the guts and grip to stick it out when the going gets though.

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    • Jim Brennan says:

      And there you have it, Fullmoonrunner, Spirit and Guts. The essence of running, as well as writing, in fact living. Hey, A friend of mine is traveling to Scotland in July. If she is in the Edinburgh area you should hook up for a run with her. She is fabulous, and has the spirit of a runner, as you do. I will drop you a line if her itinerary takes her near your home town.
      jim

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      • Awesome! I’d be delighted to join your friend for a run – we have some stunning places to run around here and I’m not far from Edinburgh! 😀

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        • Jim Brennan says:

          Great! If she plans to visit the Edinburgh area and has time to hook up for a run I’ll have her contact you on your blog. That would be very cool!
          jim

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          • Scotland isn’t that big, so even if she isn’t in Edinburgh it would be lovely if she got in touch and we can see what we can sort out! I’m actually about an hour north of Edinburgh, but getting around isn’t a problem.

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            • Jim Brennan says:

              That would be way cool if you guys can hook up for a run. I’ll give her your blog address to contact you if it is doable. I’m jealous I can’t make the trip. I would love to one day run in the Highlands. Stay well, Fullmoonrunner.
              jim

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              • That would be fantastic indeed – I hope your friend will get in touch. 😀 You are always welcome here, too, of course! It would be a pleasure to show you around some of our stunning trails!

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  3. LB says:

    Same thing happens on the bicycle. When I started riding, I didn’t have the clothes, the toe clips (actually I still don’t) and I felt intimidated. BUT it was something I put on myself, not something others put on me.

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  4. It is interesting which posts get the most views and comments. I spend days researching and editing a post and it gets 10 views. I wrote a post about being a DIY guy and it went over 100 views in 1 day. I wrote that post in under an hour. There was nothing exciting or sexy about that post, but it must have struk a nerve. A lot of nerves.
    Your post on snobbery must have hit a nerve also. Snobbery and class are touchey issues. People feel their title or car makes them important. What I love about running is all of that is stripped away. I run with executives and plumbers. None of us talk about work that much. Maybe 5% of a conversation. Often I do not know what someone does for work or what title they hold. In spandex and cool mesh we are all equals.
    Many new runners feel intimidated by runners and may see us as snobs. Some are. I try to remind new runners that we all started soemwhere and that their slow miles may be the guy next to you aspirational pace.
    Not sure this ended up where I wanted it to go.
    Maybe, you can’t be a snob when your so called “inferior being” is kicking your ass on the long run.

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    • Jim Brennan says:

      Andy, thanks for sharing your insights so eloquently. Well stated and couldn’t agree more with all of us being equals, runners and non-runners.
      jim

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