Humans like to be different. More accurately, we like to pretend to be different. We like to pretend that our herd is better than the other herd, that it’s an elite herd. But not too elite, because that would be lonely, and we’re not very good at lonely.

I was at Westercon recently – a convivial gathering of people sharing a non-mainstream interest in science fictiony stuff. People with full body armor talking with those in business casual while they watch the mermaids in the pool outside. All friendly, all happy, all following convention guidelines on tolerance and acceptance without even trying.

Except the snobs. There are always snobs, because that’s how people are. The people whose function in life is to ask what you do, only so they can look down on it, whose tastes are ever so much more refined and informed than yours, who’ve made an art of condescension. I wish I could say it’s a modern art, but it isn’t; it’s ancient. It’s only modern in that normal people look at it in puzzled incomprehension, and then walk the other way, to where the friendly people are sitting.

Next time you’re at a con, you’re sure to meet these people. They’re usually people you haven’t heard of, because people you have heard of don’t need to condescend. Here’s my advice – be polite; let them finish their thought, let them place the final bricks in their pedestal, and let them climb on top. Then leave them to it. Eventually they’ll find that their tower is a little lonelier than it looked when they were laying in the marble, and the windows a little narrower. Meantime, you and I will be having a good time down in the cafe, arguing the relative merits pulp and literary SFF, and who cares just how it’s defined, so long as we know what we’re talking about?