Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thank you, Captain Obvious

I have a lot of hobbies, and I end up having a lot of conversations with people about those hobbies.  I have been cultivating most of these interests for years, and some of the people who seem most excited to talk to me seem to be those that are either unfamiliar with those hobbies, or are very new to them.

Enter my frustration.  When people find out that I knit and crochet - and pretty well, actually - I cannot count the number of times that people recommend Etsy to me.  (As if I obviously cannot heard of such a thing before, or if I am not already selling on Etsy, I must not have heard of it.)  The reality is that I have known about Etsy for years, but I do not feel it is worth my while to sell items.

Or when people find out that I write a food blog, everyone compares me to the chick from "Julie and Julia."  I ask if they have heard that that woman publicly cheated on her husband and was reviled by Julia Child herself.  She created the blog to become famous; I created mine to relieve boredom, share recipes, and remember dishes I made.

Or one of my favorites, whenever someone tries to "out-food" me (as I call it).  Ever heard of a CSA?  Or this restaurant or that one?  Or this chocolate?  Or New Glarus beer?  Hah!  I'd love to gush about these things, but I am put off by the tone in the way I am often asked about them, like I'm such a dumbass I never heard about them before.  I think that the "foodie" culture of revering fine food, wine, and beer is making everyone want to be an expert.

I know that most people just want to help.  But there is also the competition factor.  When I was younger, I would try hard to pretend that I knew as much as I could about a topic.  I thought that if I admitted to not knowing the answer, I'd look like a fool whose opinion is not worth anything. 

Now I recognize the value in admitting my own ignorance when applicable, and asking probing questions rather than condescending ones.  I have tried to make this post sound as not-arrogant as possible; I guess I am just in a pissy mood about this at the moment. 

Next time you see me, be sure to ask me whether I am aware that people at Northwestern are really into purple, or maybe whether I am aware that bunnies like carrots and to hop around and shit.


BurtonT said...

I understand and share your sense of frustration on this issue, though I think more often than not its just a ham-fisted way for someone unfamiliar with a hobby/interest/topic to try and find a way to relate. And, like you, I have struggled with this need to project that I am an "expert" on every subject as some sort of bizarre self-defense mechanism, less I be deemed "inferior" for not being in the know. But as you say, it is in admitting ignorance that allows you to then really learn about the subject at hand. By the way, if you haven't already, you should check out "regretsy" for a good laugh and reaffirmation of your dislike of etsy. I totally just did exactly what you're frustrated about, didn't I?

Valerie said...

Hah, yes, a little bit. Regretsy is already a favorite of mine and is listed in the blogroll at right.

Burton said...

Aww, damnit. In my defense, I claim ignorance on how the blogosphere actually works.