Hello, lovely reader. How did you sleep last night? Me? Oh, I had a very weird dream about trying to put on a play in the House of Lords. David Blunkett wanted to play Oedipus. Very odd.
Anyway, today I’d like to talk about the various degrees of smugness (smugness? Smugosity? Smugism? Who knows) that we come across in day to day life. As far as I can see, there’s a sliding scale of complacency that we are willing to put up with. It’s very telling about British society that we have so many synonyms for “smug”, which is a state that we inherently mistrust. We need lots of words for it so that we can identify exactly what it is about someone else’s demeanour that we find offensive.
Confident: damning with faint praise, in this country. We say it about ourselves in job applications and we try to demonstrate it in our social interactions, but deep down we don’t believe that anyone is capable of being confident every second of the livelong day. It’s just not natural.
Cocky: a laddish, raffish, devil-may-care word for someone who is cheekily sure of themselves. A bit annoying, but essentially harmless.
Self-assured: sounds like a good thing, and in general it is, but for most of us it also conjures up the urge to shout “WHAT?! How can you be self-assured? Why aren’t you riddled with self-doubt and paranoia like the rest of us? Weirdo.”
Vain: get your face out of the mirror, dumbass. This one is just about having a preoccupation with one’s appearance, which is foolish but not unforgivable.
Smug: a silly-sounding word for a fairly silly state of being. The word ‘smug’ has connotations of self-satisfaction on a long term basis, which is just unacceptable. It also makes us think of undeserved good fortune – it is used a lot in reference to celebrities and politicians, after all – rather than genuine achievement.
Arrogant: ah, this is a tricky one. We say that arrogance is unattractive, and we may well mean it, but there is something weirdly appealing about someone whose self-assurance has been taken to this whole new level. This one is a bit toxic for would-be friends and lovers, so it’s probably best to avoid these people unless you’ve got very thick skin.
Conceited: arrogance mixed with extreme vanity. Stay the heck away.
Simon Cowell: almost certainly the devil in (not very convincing) disguise. Avoid at all costs.
Have a lovely, Simon Cowell-free day.