Whenever we casually make fun of people, I think we should be a bit careful about the world we help shape in that moment. I don't think it's crazy to think we should only make fun of people that deserve it – and there's a bit less disagreement about who deserves what than people pretend.

I find myself maximally disappointed in the modern use of the British slang 'boffin'. For those unaware, it is an old WW2 slang for the somewhat quirky geniuses working in some backroom to produce their strange marvels that essentially defined the war effort. We all had to serve to fight The Nazi Menace (even us Americans), but when you really got down to it, the boffins won the war.

These days, it's a sneer.

I'm not entirely sure we should sneer at people doing difficult and influence work that makes the world better. I can't find myself appreciating anyone's work more, in fact, and when I hear this usage it fills me, genuinely, with a disappointment I cannot capture in text (it is a small feeling – perhaps it would be easier to describe if I felt it more profoundly). This is the world they are choosing.

In the same way we mock celebrities for crying over global warming before hopping on their private jets, perhaps the people who make these remarks should be mocked for their use of smartphones?

Is engineering so monstrous, truly? Does every single computer programmer in media, for instance, need to be a pathetic loser or obnoxious brogrammer? I've never even met someone that fits those archetypes, I have no idea why it's so popular to pigeon-hole people that much.

My concern is not unique to this field. Doctors still get some respect, but not nearly as much as they used to (even as licensing requirements increased – curious, if this was just a signaling thing). Police, firefighters, teachers, pilots, soldiers, politicians – more and more they are just normal people with normal jobs (pilots perhaps worse than even the average job, considering how frequently you hear their job is hitting the takeoff and land buttons). I am made extremely nervous by this elimination of public status. I don't want to be a firefighter, and so I have nothing to gain – but I worry deeply about a society that treats that job so casually. Some work serves a public good! It benefits everyone for those jobs to confer status – it lowers the cost to hiring them, at the margin, because it's something people want to be. So we get more of the jobs that benefit the world.

Is it a respect thing? Do we lack the capacity for humility? I find myself not concerned at all waiting over-long to hold a door open for a soldier, and not diminished in the slightest inviting a firefighter to step ahead of me in a line. I admit it's possible a woman might be more likely to go to a blind date with firefighters – their calendars have done at least that amount of good – but that's a small thing in a strange world.

Perhaps this is a shared public space thing. We don't share enough to get a sense of who people are, and there's no one place where a visible and socially reinforced social order might exist. And maybe that's even a good thing – people ought to find happiness in their own way. But isolating from each other is a dangerous first step down that path, and there is dignity in every job – perhaps why we should stop making fun of people for their job, and start celebrating people more.