Snobbery, Capitalism, and the Olive Garden with Dr. Michael Hurd

You may remember last week, when I posted a Facebook status that said, “If you genuinely like the Olive Garden, you probably have an STD.” That is obviously a joke. However, the reactions I received were everything from “Oh my god yes” to “I only like the Olive Garden ironically” to “Wow, that’s so rude” to someone
deleting me as a friend. Sensitive much?

To understand this dialogue and it’s place in our culture, I talked to a world renown psychotherapist, radio host, and author. You’ve seen his books and his articles in Capitalism Magazine. Please join me in welcoming an expert on snobbery, capitalism, and politics: Dr. Michael Hurd. 

Let’s dig right in. Why did everyone get so emotional about the Olive Garden?

Eating is personal. Also, when you insult or even disagree with someone’s preferences, they take it personally. They feel like you’re attacking THEM, when you’re really only attacking the Olive Garden (or whatever the preference is).

Of course, with a comment this strong, it does sound like a personal attack, which is probably why you got such a strong reaction. If you had kept the focus on, “I don’t like the Olive Garden” rather than, “There’s something wrong with people who like the Olive Garden,” then you would have had a less intense reaction.

It seems to me that because of the varying responses, it identifies who my actual peers are, rather than the wide variety of people connected with me on social media. Is that accurate?


After reading some of your articles, I understand what I said was pretty terrible, but not the most terrible. How does something that small relate to social metaphysics?

Social metaphysics refers to looking to what “the group” or one’s peers think of something in order to form your own conclusion. Let’s say you were watching the presidential debates. Instead of forming your own conclusions, you’d wait to hear what other people are saying, and go along with them. Or perhaps you go to a movie with three friends. Instead of forming an opinion for yourself, you wait to hear what others think (like/dislike) before deciding on what YOU think.

Metaphysics refers to the nature of reality or existence. When your metaphysics is “social” it means you get your definition of truth/reality from others, rather than from your own (hopefully) objective and rational conclusions.

Would you say it’s more beneficial or less beneficial to go against a group and social metaphysics by forming and broadcasting a strong opinion?

It depends on your purpose. If you’re trying to articulate or accomplish something important, than the negative reaction to the strong opinion is part of the price. If what you’re seeking to accomplish or get across is more important than the “price” of the negative reaction, then that’s one thing. On the other hand, if you’re trying to get a negative reaction for the mere sake of getting a negative reaction, that’s immature or adolescent, and it’s not really accomplishing anything.

Is there an automatic connection between being a snob and a narcissist?

Snobbery is a likely consequence of being a narcissist, but not the underlying cause. A narcissist is someone who cares about himself — his own needs, wants, desires — but does not respect the need and right for others to ALSO care about their own wants, needs and preferences. A narcissist wants to have an “I” (which is legitimate), but does not want anyone else to have an “I”. Narcissists usually do not admit this, but that’s how they are, and if you are close to the person, you will know it.

When you see snobbery in someone else, it does not automatically mean the person is a narcissist. It could be less serious — immaturity, thoughtlessness, carelessness, trying to fit in with the group. These are not laudable traits, but they’re not narcissism, either. You have to know someone well before you can establish they’re narcissists, or at least know personal things about them.

I really enjoy reading your political articles. Is there a connection between day-to-day tastes or capitalist choices and political

Capitalism and free markets permit the greatest number of choices and options. Go into a grocery store. Grocery stores and food, in Western societies, are for the most part free markets. Choices rule. Now look at education. In America and elsewhere, it’s a government monopoly. You have some choices, but not as many as you would in a free market. Look at health care in most Western nations. It’s socialized; few or no choices. In America, it’s getting that way. Look at retirement insurance; mostly monopolized by the government, so not a lot of options for retirement savings, other than the rocky and unstable stock market.

There’s not a direct connection between day to day tastes and capitalism. Day to day tastes have to do with a person’s personality, preferences, values, spending capacity, family or cultural habits, and many other factors. But in a free market those preferences are allowed maximal “breathing room,” and come into play as competing companies try to persuade people to spend their money on their options.

Sadly, a lot of people find capitalism distasteful, but they’re too ignorant or thoughtless to realize that by denouncing capitalism, they’re killing freedom of choice – including, ultimately, their own.

Thank you to guest Dr. Michael Hurd. Click to read an excerpt from his latest book, Good Therapy, Bad Therapy.

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