There’s a moment in the movie Caddyshack I can’t shake from my mind.
Danny Noonan, one of the film’s main characters, is trying to butter up antagonist and avid golfer Judge Elihu Smails in order to get an advantage for a college scholarship from the movie’s fictional country club. Danny can’t afford to go to college.
“Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too,” says the judge, playing up his well to-do lifestyle and feeling of superiority.
It’s a blow for Danny, but a salient point. The world does need ditch diggers, but the comment’s comedic purposes override the need to analyze it within context of the movie. What we’re expected to take away is that digging ditches is low, miserable work that should be avoided.
But what if it’s not so bad? What if there’s more to digging ditches than getting your hands dirty?
As basic as this task may seem, there should most certainly be an amount of pride – like any job – in wielding knowledge and skill beyond another person. Knowing the perfect depth with which to plunge a shovel into the earth and visualizing the right angle to make the task easier are skills, even if those abilities seem like low, miserable work.
Most of all, what are we to make of someone who enjoys digging ditches? Heaven forbid, according to Judge Smails.
In a very roundabout way, this has stuck in my head all week as I considered joining this month’s Session, a regular effort by beer bloggers around the world to collectively share thoughts on a single topic. Presented by the writer known simply as “DING,” this month’s prompt asks us to consider our place in the beer industry:
Are you simply a cog in the commercial machine if you work for a brewery, store or distributor? Are you nothing more than an interested consumer? Are you JUST a consumer? Are you a beer evangelist? Are you a wannabe, beer ‘professional’? Are you a beer writer? All of the above? Some of the above? None of the above? Where do you fit, and how do you see your own role in the beer landscape?
The more I thought about it, the more I considered these questions in other terms: Why do we write? What do we want out of writing?
Or rather, if we write, must we be above “ditch digging?” Is there a standard we must set for ourselves and others and cast out those who don’t meet those expectations?
I kept coming back to the same answer: who cares?
Let me clarify:
- I do believe we should all strive to write well.
- I do believe we should work to educate, or at least add a unique perspective.
- I don’t believe anyone should be thought of as less if they can’t, don’t or won’t. Chances are, as insensitive as it may sound, they’ll be brushed to the side in lieu of others.
But … that shouldn’t stop anyone from setting their own goals and fitting into the beer landscape however they’d like. Or enjoying beer however they want. Above all, passion shines through.
DING said he’s seen his role evolve in recent years, from “consumer who loved beer and pubs, to an educator, to an advocate and defender” of session beer and cask ale:
I thought for a while that people might be interested in my role as a resident curmudgeon, but unfortunately America does not want any part of that particular element either, as it much prefers a Pollyanna, constant, agonizingly optimistic outlook over the truth.
I fear this slightly misses the point. Especially if the optimistic outlook of so many is simply because that’s what they prefer.
We shouldn’t look down on anyone for choosing how to express their passion. It’s important to constructively critique and nudge people in what we hope is the right direction to produce well-thought opinions and research, but it’s also important to recognize the individual choice of many and what that means to them.
If someone aspires to be a judge, that’s wonderful. If digging ditches is their passion, that’s good, too.
Our role in the beer landscape is the same as it should be anywhere else: find our happiness and embrace it.
Related: It’s My Relationship and I Can Cry if I Want To
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac
6 thoughts on “The Not-So-Secret Secret of Beer Blogging: You Matter. No Matter What.”
I was just thinking the same things this morning. Why do I blog? What are my goals? Why do I care? I’ll be posting about that in a fee days I think. This is another great post, lots to think about.
Thanks, Tierney! I’ve oddly had this conversation a few times in recent weeks and my response has always been along the lines of… “I write firstly for selfish reasons. These are things I think about and want to learn about. I write for myself and just hope others find it interesting, too.”
Whatever I do with the blog, I’m doing it because it makes me happy. That’s worth something, I think.
There is a certain amount of reflective thinking that goes into writing. I also find that when I look back at time I spent writing I consider it quite joyful, educational and exploratory (even a simple beer review requires a certain sense of self reflection regarding your sensory experiences).
Great question and wonderful points. I blog for a couple of reasons in no particular order…First, because I want to improve my writing – quite frankly the only way to do that is with lots and lots of practice. Second, because I really want to better understand social media, social blogging and to get involved in the online ‘network’ of bloggers because I find it fascinating. Third, I really enjoy talking about beer and food, both online and in person so it’s more of a hobby for me.
“We shouldn’t look down on anyone for choosing how to express their passion”, oh boy. If only I wrote a blog so I could talk about this. Wait…
I’m often surprised (and humbled) by how many people (especially people in the local craft beer scene) “get” what I do. I have industry people who read it, industry people who recognize me because of it, and even a few who treat me like I’m someone because of it for some reason.
But every now and then I run into a craft beer person who gets all chippy, as if the fact that I write a blog is me making a statement that I know more about beer than anyone else. Then the questions start flying.
Relax. Have a beer and let me dig my ditches.