I have a couple of confessions to make. First: I’m a nerd elitist. Second: I don’t always mean to be.
A pizza delivery guy came to my door one recent night, and he complimented me on my DeLorean-Tardis shirt. He then very excitedly started to recommend the Epic Rap Battles of History video of the Doctor versus Doc Brown. I’m already a fan of the ERB series, so I smiled and told him we (my roommates who were there and myself) have seen them all. The delivery guy and I chuckled, I took my pizza, and he left. After I shut my door though, my roommates said that I was a “douchy hipster” by acting like a know-it-all when the delivery guy was just excited to share in his fandom.
In retrospect, I see their point. Replaying the scene in my head, I feel like I shut the guy down. I’m glad that the delivery guy is into the same things I am. I’m even more glad when people get excited over whatever geeky shirt I may be wearing. It’s why I wear them.
We geeks and nerds pride ourselves in being exceptionally knowledgeable and early adopters in whatever our fandoms are. Sometimes this leads to good-nature competition and discussion. Some of my best conversations with friends have been debating and arguing about super hero films. However, sometimes this leads to an unhealthy one-upsmanship and shouting matches. And also sometimes, as in this case, our obsession for all things geeky can lead to moments of an inferred inflated superiority when we don’t even mean it. It can just ooze out at inopportune times (as most things that ooze out tend to do).
This isn’t true for everyone, but it is for some. I know it is for me. I don’t help matters with my short style of talking/writing. I’ve had more than a couple of people say they thought I’m a harsh asshole from my emails, to realize later after talking in person that it’s just how I write.
For those of us who exude a know-it-all arrogance, we must learn to recognize our unintentional elitism and keep it in check. This is at the utmost importance when meeting new people, where first impressions are often the strongest.
I don’t know how the delivery guy interpreted our encounter, and I may never know. It might just be my paranoia over people’s impressions of myself that says he took it as badly as I fear. Each time, I can only hope that I handle my next first encounter better.
Maybe I’ll try ordering pizza again soon too.
Have you accidentally offended anyone in a first impression through an unintentional elitism?
How did you handle it?
How did you learn from the experience?
Share your answers and thoughts in the comments below!