I've been thinking about pretentiousness a lot lately too. Mostly because I fear I'm pretentious but also because there has been a spike in the pretentiousness index around me lately. So I wonder: wtf?
Pretense is the act of giving false appearance. Ok. That makes sense. As a teacher-professor-professional, there's always a certain degree of acting. I have to give a false appearance. It's part of the job. Maybe not. But I don't think of myself as a "commanding" figure, one who "commands" respect, so I "act" in order to get it. This is, in no small part, because of my size, age, race, gender, etc. I've been cultured to be "small" and those who are "small" don't "earn" respect. It's a screwed up system, one that I'm working to change, even if it's only within the confines of my own classrooms.
Pretentious, however, is defined as making unjustified or excessive claims. That goes way beyond pretense.
But why are people pretentious? To me, the obvious answer is insecurity. So then, Person A is pretentious--making an unjustified or excessive claim--to Person B so that Person B knows that Person A is legit. Is it that simple? But clearly, Person A isn't legit, and Person B is a fool to fall for it.
This is getting complicated. I guess my question is: Why bother? Of course, I'm as guilty as anyone else. In general, I think I'm not a particularly pretentious person, but once people start asking about writing--or rather, my writing--my voice changes. I become some cross between pretentious and awkwardly shy. These "ums" and "likes" pop up everywhere. I don't know. I think this is going no where. Well, then. Yeah.