The sneaker-loving contingent is a divided one. It only takes a visit to Instagram posts, blogs, or a scroll through Twitter to see that there are a lot of opinions out there, and a lot of them are at odds with each other. Sneakerheads love to hate. The quality of a retro is never up to standards, a release is never easy enough to pick up, or, more recently, they've turned their angst and claws upon each other — no one is O.G. enough, people are corny for wearing pants that fit too big or slim, or their taste in which sneakers they collect isn't up to par.

But truth be told: As much as sneakerheads squabble amongst each other, as dudes from back in the day butt heads with young bucks who purchased their first pair of Air Jordans, it's their love for footwear that helps them connect in the first place. Hip-hop heads who actually remember the release of Ready to Die are thrown into the same cultural sphere as those who were in elementary school when Soulja Boy first jolted onto the scene in questionable BAPEs. And they're able to share and cherish the same sneakers, even if it's in different ways — all because of what's on their feet.

there's something about the universality of sneakers that can bring people closer.

Sneakers can serve as generational bridges, but they're more powerful than that. They act as cultural liaisons, too. There's an understanding between people who appreciate the nuances of an Air Max 95, adidas ZX 8000, or any other sneaker. It's as if nothing else matters as long as they can discuss their favorite silhouettes. Those who grew up in the most suburban environments can interact with their sole-obsessed peers who come from much different inner city upbringings. 

It's simple to say that the Internet has forged these relationships and brought people closer, which is true. But there's something about the universality of sneakers that can bring people closer. Everyone has to wear them, unless they're one of those weird barefoot running enthusiasts, and the percentage of people who search out rare and exclusive pairs is even a smaller portion of the shoe-wearing pie.

Personally, I've gone from a kid who grew up along the Seacoast of New Hampshire, just praying to get his hands on something other than a general release at Foot Locker, to someone who's gone to sneaker parties at atmos in Harlem. And, now, to being a 28-year-old who talks to people as far away as Moscow, Newcastle, Berlin, and Australia on a semi-regular basis, and it's all because of sneakers.

I could care less about how these people dress, what music they listen to, or what their social upbringings were. We're able to talk the significance of a certain model or realize what makes us the smallest percentage of people who purchase athletic footwear: the sneakerhead.

someone who rocks limited Asics Gel Lyte Vs with jogger pants should try and reach out to the guy in #ntdenim and Jordan Vs. 

This is why someone who rocks limited ASICS Gel Lyte Vs with jogger pants should try and reach out to the guy in #ntdenim and Jordan Vs. And, conversely, the dude who sees Triple-Black Foamposites as the complement to his New York Fashion Week outfit has something he can build on with a kid from uptown who grew up wearing Foams and idolizing Penny Hardaway. Not only would this help build a cohesive identity of sneaker culture, but it would help bring people closer who didn't realize they had so much in common.

To the rest of the world, sneakerheads, no matter how mainstream the hobby and lifestyle becomes, are a group of people who foolishly squander their money on glued together slabs of leather, mesh, and rubber. So the next time you quarrel, beef, or slander someone who has the same admiration for sneakers as you, think again: That person is the same passionate, misunderstood connoisseur who just wants to lace up their favorite set of steps so the world can see how cool they are, if just for a moment — even if your denim is dragging on the floor.

Matt Welty is an editorial assistant at Complex and isn't too proud to admit that he once had #ntdenim (even if it was in 2005). You can follow him on Twitter here.