Arrogant Hobbyist mentality- where does it come from?

I’ve noticed that there’s a certain hobbyist/enthusiast mentality that’s prone to a really, really annoying combination of splitting hairs and extraordinary hyperbole.

As in, if you read say… home brewing boards, you’ll have some jerk on there swearing up and down that if your mash temp is 154 instead of 153, your beer will be ruined and totally out of style.

On cooking forums, some jerks will claim up and down that things like “grocery store meat has NO flavor” or that you have to use organic, free range Berkshire pork or your effort will have been wasted and your dish will taste like month-old fermented garbage.

On camera/photography boards, some ass will get on there and badmouth a lens because it’s not as sharp as the corresponding Canon L series lens that costs 8x as much, and that your pictures will suck as a result.

Or my personal favorite, on a certain automotive/lubrication forum, people claim that using one oil filter or oil over the other not only makes some difference, but they’ll haughtily claim “I’ll NEVER use filter X in my 1989 Cutlass” or some other idiotic crap like that.

What’s with this mentality? It seems to be the worst of the medieval “how many angels can stand on the head of a pin” nit-pickery, combined with the usual Comic Book Guy arrogance. Why is it so difficult for these people to admit that you can make a delicious dinner out of garden-variety grocery store pork, or that running a Wal-Mart filter and dollar store oil will get 99% of engines to 250,000 miles?


Pretty much everyone wants to feel important and powerful. So a bit of knowledge and a fuck ton of ego in a very small pond is the perfect recipe for playing King of the Pond.

Sayre’s Law states: “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.”

I think that covers most hobbies.

people are snooty.

I don’t why it is, but I learned long ago (at my first and only time playing paintball) that regardless of the activity; there’s going to be a subset of people who take it WAY more seriously than you want to. Sometimes it comes across as arrogant. I’m seriously hard pressed to think of any activity I’ve been involved in where it didn’t stand a chance of having the fun all sucked out of it because someone is a little too intense. Brewing beer? I’ve seen on the message boards people who say you MUST follow such and such rule or it totally ruins it! I’ve already mentioned paintball. Hoo Boy, I knew I wasn’t in for a day of fun with friends when I saw the people with the custom weapons and full military camo dress. I saw it a lot as a sports official. Parents of children aged 10 and 12 going absolutely nuts over anything and everything.

People who are into a hobby naturally like to seek out improvements. At some point they cross a threshold of diminishing returns, but that doesn’t stop them wanting to make things better.

They start out choosing Authentic Brand over Craptastic Imitation, and it probably is noticeably better in some way. But later, once they’re neck-deep in the hobby, they’re choosing Organic Deoxygenated Free-Range Platinum Plated over Organic Deoxygenated Free-range Gold Plated, where any difference is undetectable and probably imaginary - but they want it anyway because their urge to have better stuff is the very foundation of their interest.

Ha, As I read the preview I thought “I bet bump’s talking about home brewers”.

I was a professional brewer for 5 years at a large Midwestern regional brewery and I worked a lot of beer festivals and so talked to a lot of home brewers.

As Enright3 rightly notes, there is always the fringe subset that is extremely noisy. They’re so noisy that they begin to seem as thought they’re the majority. Or at least most people stop interacting with them. Then the opinions of the noisy get cemented as fact, since no one wants to bother shouting them down.

Perfect example from the home brewing world, tell someone you’re making a beer with 6-row malt. I guarantee someone will claim it’s only useful for cattle feed within 24 hours. However, I made award-winning beers from 6-row for years, never heard one person identify it as such.

There will always be someone with a large budget to devote to the hobby, and the spending needs to be justified.

I call them snot suckers. I coined this term after listening to one of the sellers at a Ham Radio flea market for a few minutes. He would punctuate each hyperbolic pronouncement of the one true and correct way with an exaggerated inhalation through his nose.

I find it can be a lot of fun to hang out with the other extreme of the hobby. I know one guy who pulls crashed model airplanes out of the dumpster and has them flying the next weekend. There must be a homebrewer somewhere who is using foxtail seeds, culturing yeast from PBR and brewing in a discarded water heater. IME these guys are having more fun with the hobby, and more importantly tend to really piss off the opinionated money flingers.

This is what I like about my hobby " primitive archery" we have had many guys attempt to take over forums as elitists. The problem is we can measure the results so they can only bullshit us until we have a meet and their bows have to perform. I take pride in making my bows look like workhorses, and then I go out set world records with them. Most of our guys have similar attitudes, we have no room for snobs.

In many sports and hobbies, the very-best equipment makes a difference, relative to good-enough equipment, only to the most skilled and experienced practitioners.

By buying the best equipment, and loudly trumpeting its merits, you get to sound like one of the “most skilled and experienced practitioners” whether you are or not. It’s a short-cut.

There’s a guy like this who takes woodworking classes where I do. He has an enormous garage/workshop and top-line tools, including Festool and Lee-Nielsen equipment. He loves to name drop this stuff while everyone rolls their eyes. His work ain’t all that.

Hobbyists can be awfully nerdish so in any forum, new ideas and insights are always welcome. More to your point perhaps is how hobbyists relate with people outside their herd. In the case of my hobby (knives) exchanges with non-knife enthusiasts can make a lengthy anthology.

Seems to me you’d have an advantage in making your point.

Don’t take extra time, just cut to the chase.

if you can forcibly make your point.

Non-knife people avoid that situation completely, and talk about things like “giving your life a short fuze,” or “why must one carry a knife if he’s not out to stab someone,” etc. It’s hard to explain its usefulness if there’s no string to cut or package to open. When I took out my brand new spyderco delica:

She: “What’s that??”
Me: “It’s a knife-tool.”
She: “It looks like a spatula.”
Me: “It is.”
She: “Why does it have a hole in it?”
Me: “What sort of tool is it if you can’t hang it from a nail on the wall?”
She: “Oh yeah, I forgot.”

The universe is a thermodynamic system that is frankly out of the control of mere mortals. My little train set gives me complete control over a universe and I feel pretty damn good about it. My photography? My 400mm Canon L lens (thank you for the example) gives the sharpest pictures without any exceptions, including the more expensive Canon 400mm L lenses with wider aperatures. Fools how pay five times the amount for them are fools. Unless they are going to use them wide open.

Me, too! :smiley:

My favorite stunt was to beat them in head-to-head blind competition with what I called “Jedi-brewing” - just closing your eyes and winging the recipe, the mash temps, the hopping schedule, everything. Then you just sit back and laugh when your “disaster - it will never fly, Orville” beer kicks their asses at every competition.

I guess there’s arcana with every hobby and interest. Sheesh, take a peek at the guitar thread.

Pretentiousness and snobbery.

Ha, I used to drive guys in my homebrewing club crazy when they asked for a recipe. I usually said something like “Umm, I can get you close.”

Weirdly I was discussing something like this with my wife just the other night. People take what they know and adapt their hobbies around them. I helped a good friend who is a Chemical Engineer get into homebrewing and when he built his rig it was full of pumps and sensors and lights and switches and even had a damned control panel! But I kept my mouth shut, because that was what made him comfortable.

My rig is a bunch of square steel tubing held together by birdshit welds and hose clamps. It horrifies my engineer friend, but he knows I can make good beer on it, so he holds his tongue. The problem bump describes is when people insist that you need a control panel to make beer.