Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 19, 2018

The practiced art of the snub

By Jim Turner | Oct 06, 2017

To the editor:

The practiced art of the snub can be defined as cutting someone off in a cold-hearted way, treating someone with contempt, indifference and actively ignoring them most of all. The snub is usually targeted at someone who was once not only always acknowledged, but treated as a friend, someone who the snubber was once genuinely fond of and respected.

This form of the practiced art of the snub has been around a long time. It has been an informal custom of the upper classes in New York City for many years. And for all I know, it continues today. I remember it portrayed most notably in Edith Wharton’s “House of Mirth.”

But it is seen elsewhere in our literature, as recently as in Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities.” It usually takes the form of summarily rejecting a former member of the upper crust who has violated its tribal customs, i.e., gossiped in the press, cheated in a business deal, run off with a member’s spouse, or simply betrayed a friend in some way.

It can be something less dramatic: drunk and rude at a party, defending a politician everyone dislikes, taking an unpopular stand on a social issue, joining a so-called cult.

The worst part of it is that the snub or the reason for it is often based entirely on hearsay and assumptions. There is often a great distortion of the truth or some impressionistic idea of the truth behind it. It can be initiated by someone as an act of revenge.

While not entirely confined to the upper classes. It tends to be less apparent in the middle and lower classes. The lower and middle classes may shout and scream at each other; at friends and family members, but they don’t generally ignore.

They do not practice the art of the snub because they know how cold hearted it truly is. And somehow there is a kind of love and acceptance between people who shout and argue.

It usually is over rather quickly-apologies are made, there is forgiveness and reconciliation. While the snub lasts and lasts. It is permanent in many cases.

The snub seems to suggest that whatever made it possible for you to make it into the upper crust, you can be yanked out of it permanently, in a split second, by your former friends. It is a not-so-subtle form of emotional cruelty that allows the upper crusters to feel dignified: no shouting of course,and sophisticated: no drama for them.

It is interesting how the terms snub and snob are so similar. Anyone can be a snob and anyone can learn the practiced art of the snub, whatever their economic class or background.

But it is the devil’s work and should be avoided at all costs. We should never ignore, cut off or be indifferent to our loved ones.

Get as mad as heck if you need to but don’t ignore them. Get angry and let them know it. But then love and forgive them: You won’t regret it.


– Jim Turner, Fairfield

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