A week or so ago, an interaction I had with a friend got me to thinking about the important difference between being discerning and being a snob. And there is a difference.
Here’s how the basic interaction went down:
Me (responding to a different friend who was making communal pots of tea, who asked what kind of tea I like to drink): Well, I drink mostly green tea, but no need to make any just for me, I brought my own.
Friend (standing nearby in ear shot): You brought you own huh?
Me: Yeah, I found this great loose leaf green tea online that I order from Ten Tea and I really like it. So I decided to bring it along with me today.
Friend (playfully stated): Oh, so you’re a tea snob?
Me: Well, no. I would say that I am discerning.
Friend (again, playfully stated): Oh, is that how you rationalize it?
Me: Well, no. I don’t think being discerning and being a snob are the same thing.
Words matter. And the words ‘discerning’ and ‘snob’ are not synonymous or interchangeable. It’s not the action that matters nearly as much as the motivation and energy behind it. It’s not the what, it’s the why.
On dictionary.com, it defines the word ‘discerning’ as: showing good or outstanding judgment and understanding. And it defines the word ‘snob’ as: a person who imitates, cultivates, or slavishly admires social superiors and is condescending or overbearing to others.
Nope. Definitely not the same thing.
Let’s unpack this a little bit more.