Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mark my words - and deal with them

Some time ago, I did something I am wont to do. I ranted on the Twitter. In the course of the ranting, the thought occurred to me that I could do shout outs to various random thinkers of the ages, making extremely bad jokes along the way.

If you've followed me for any length of time, you know this is my default mode. Get an idea, go for it, enjoy the bad jokes that results.

The result this time was #heythinker, with me giving a go at a whole range of thinkers I've read or read about during the course of my life.

Turns out there's quite a number of them. So quite, that I got reactions on it. Some smirks, some "okay, now you're just showing off", and some "hey, stop being elitist you serialtweeting prick."

Smirks I can do. Being called elitist - not so much.

I never got an answer to my followup questions as to where the elitism lies. It's not due to any attendance to expensive universities - living in the socialist utopia of Sweden, higher education is free. I don't make any claims to being smart, either - my general outlook on the world is that you know more than me. To a fault, at times. I just read a lot of books back in the days and can count on half-remembering the gist of what these people was about.

I suspect it has something to do with the use of these names being a marker for social class in and of itself. To commit the sin reflexively: it is what Bourdieu would call cultural capital, and displaying it publicly is akin to buying an expensive car and slowly walking it through the neighborhood, just to make sure that everyone notices that the car is indeed expensive and indeed yours.

(It is indeed possible to walk a car. If the guy on the sidewalk outwalks you, you're doing it right. If you get a parking ticket, you're doing it even more right.)

So, if I walked though your virtual neighborhood: sorry 'bout that. My bad.

But the thing is - I don't gain anything by pretending I didn't read all them books all those years ago, and you don't either.  Sure, it's not the most fun experience to see people throw around a name that means nothing to you, but everyone starts out that way. With enough Wikipedia time, you'll get the gist of it before anyone knows it.

Hey. With enough Wikipedia time, you'll eventually find out I'm not a smug bastard flouting my superiority after all. Rather, you'll find out that I'm just wrong about things. All the time.

I can live with being wrong. But only as long as you point it out to me.


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