The symbol in the title "!=" is computer programming language-speak for "not equal to".
es_trick on a comment post to Greg Chess Progress's blog mentioned an interesting article. The inventor of the Glicko system, Mark Glickman was interviewed by the USCF's Chess Life magazine. In it, Mark made a comment that stands out towards the end of that interview:
"Way too many players, including people in administrative positions within the USCF, incorrectly view ratings as measures of achievement, or worse, as measures of self-worth."
Truer words have never been spoken.
I for one, have never been overtly concerned with chess ratings. I play chess to have fun and I find it an enjoyment to read chess books, go through Chessbase DVDs etc. to improve my chess skills. Ratings improvement is merely a bonus.
I think far too many players get caught up in the ratings game and start to put up an attitude especially when approached by lesser skilled players for questions. I've seen it happen at club level. The U1200 mingle in one group, U1800 in another group, U2100 in one group. I do notice that when people get higher in rating, quite a number of players suddenly developed a "Brahmin-like" behaviour towards less skilled players - a "you're beneath me and not worth my attention"-esque attitude. It's really a sad sight to behold.
When a player is low in the chess rating "pecking order", it is very easy to develop a low self worth if higher skilled players in the chess club deliberately ignore you and avoid you like the plague when you approach them. They would feel that their rating appears to be a curse rather than a badge and are not welcomed.
I think some of these better skilled players should adopt a less "holier-than-thou" attitude and learn to be more accommodating.
Lower skilled chess players need as much guidance as they can get. And sometimes, all it takes is to go over to their group and have a friendly social chat with them. It has been known that lower skilled players usually try not to approach higher skilled players as they're sometimes held back by fear that they ask stupid questions or appear stupid in the face of their contemporaries. So for higher skilled players, it always help to make the first step and make a little ice breaker (followed by an introduction) . And if asked for advice, to dispense them freely as it would mean a lot to the less skilled players and would really make their day.
After all at club level, chess playing is not meant for you to go on an ego trip.