Excuse Me. Your Class is showing
Excuse Me. Your Class is showing
See our related posting: Things not going too good? Maybe you need a Second Life
It was an accident of the Dewey Decimal system at the local library. I went looking for a book, found it, turned around to leave, and facing me in the stacks on the opposite shelf was 646.77 LOW.
I wasn’t particularly interested finding 646.77 LOW – but it found me. 646.77 LOW was UpDating: How to Date Out of Your League (Paperback) by Leil Lowndes . How could one not pick up a book with a title like that? So I did. Paged through it. Looked interesting. It’s mine for two weeks.
Why do we do what we do?
In a book about the early life about Apple CEO Steve Jobs ( Steve Jobs, the Journey Is the Reward ) the story is told about his relation to his father. Jobs father was in the used car business -sort of. His father was a shade tree mechanic that bought cars, fixed them up,and then sold them out of his used car lot which happened to be the the family driveway.
Steves father tried to get him interested in repairing cars. Steve was not interested. Steve was more interested in who would buy cars like this. That difference in focus – a focus not on the car but on the person who would buy the car probably made all the difference in the world for the future of his career.
The “other Steve” – Steve Wozniak co founder of Apple with Steve Jobs – was more like Steves father – interested in the “thing” and not the “person” who would buy the thing. The history of Apple shows the very divergent paths that the two Steves took. One to CEO of Apple, CEO or Pixar, and CEO of NeXT; the other Steve ( Wozniak) remained mostly a technologist. The divergent paths of esch was based on the fundamental difference in focus of these two Steves. One with a primary focus on the desires of people; the other with a primary focus on technology.
The point is this. It’s sometimes interesting to ask why people do things. Why would a person buy one type of car and not another type of car? Why would one spend time in Second Life rather than their First Life? Why would one want to “UpDate” – date a person out of their league? All this gets to the underlying question that marketing folks ask – what motivates people to desire/consume a specific product or service? How can this desire be fulfilled? Or, perhaps, how can one create a desire or demand? All this comes down to understanding the person and not the thing.
Is the desire to be what we are not, or have what we do not have, based on Class? Why do some people want to be of a “Higher Class” or have a mate of a “Higher Class”?
How different classes define Class
When I asked students in my relationship seminars, “Who is your ideal partner?” or “What type of superior person are you seeking?” the answer that shot out of their mouths most often was, “A higher class of person” or “Someone with class”.
Now herein lies a problem. We live in a country that pretends class doesn’t exist. A sociologist Paul Blumberg wrote in The Predatory Society, class structure is “America’s forbidden thought.” In fact most of us think it’s classless to even admit that classes in our democratic country exist. (The irony of it is that those at the rock bottom and those at the tip top of the class ladder openly and shamelessly proclaim, “Of course class exists!”
But here’s where it gets interesting. Each class defines it differently. Ask someone at the bottom of the social ladder what class is, and here she will ruefully say, “It’s the haves, the big shots who are rolling in it, the fat cats who live on Easy street.” In short, they think class is simply how much money you have.
Ask someone in the middle, and the word so horrifies them that they stutter and stammer. After an abject denial that class exists in our democracy, and that of course they are not in the least bit conscious of it, they reveal (in hushed tones lest someone over hear them) that they think money has something to do with it. But they suspect that education and profession are also involved.
Now, at the top of the heap, like at the bottom, the upper class says unabasahly, “Surely class exists.” The difference is that the uppers define it in terms of values, taste, style, behavior and ideas. Naturally, they admit it,it helps to have money in education to be included in the designation “high class”. But it’s hardly a crucial element.
“Fake it until you can make it”
It is the argument of the book that “birds of a feather flock together” and to snag a high class person you need to be a high class person – or appear to be one. The author is a proponent of “Fake it until you can make it”. The book is filled with examples of the “values, taste, style, behavior and ideas” of upper class people with the goal that you can “make it” after “faking it”. There are various exercises in the book to see if you can “spot the mistakes” of someone who is “faking it” on the road to “making it”. Why would a person be on this path?
What you watch says about your Class
For example, what about your watch? What does it “betray” about your social class?
Start with 10 points. Then subtract as follows. The lower your score the farther you are away from upper class
Its digital -8
It displays the time in Paris, London, Rome, or Kuala Lumpur -5
It has the number of days elapsed in the year -4
It has a second hand -1 (the leisure class does not need to track to seconds)
According to the author, “The classy watch of preference for both men and women is the Cartier tank watch with the black lizard strap.” Got that?
What you read says about your Class
Was that fun and revealing?
Try another one. How does what you read “betray” your social class?
Popular mechanics or any magazine having to do with cars
Cosmo, Good Housekeeping, and almost any other woman’s magazine
Any sports magazine with the possible exception of those on golf or tennis
Martha Stewart Living
Golf, tennis, or boating publications
The Yew Yorker
Most all travel magazines with a few exceptions describing exotic destinations
New York Times Book Review
Town and Country
New York Review of Books
Times Literary Supplement
The disparity of our lives
The question before the first question is this: “Why would you want to date out of your league?” What is it about people that they are not comfortable in their own skin? Why do 16 million people need a Second Life? Why aren’t they working on their First Life? Have they given up? Thorn in the towel? Admitted defeat?
Can this apply to organizations? Who are these people that want to be Directors, Vice Presidents, Presidents, and so on in 501 (C)(3) charities? The question only becomes interesting when there is a discontinuity between individuals in their First Life and their Second Life role in an organization. The greater the disparity the more interesting the question and the more revealing the answer about human nature. Does Paris Hilton need a second life? No. Her First Life seems sufficient and it is unlikely that you will find her embedded in Second Life as a replacement of her First Life. Does Steve Jobs need a Second Life where he is CEO? No. He is already CEO in his First Life.
Is the ferocity of those who go after Second Life roles in charitable organizations – where the barrier to entry is low – proportional to the discontinuity of what they are in Fist Life and what they desire to be but have not achieved? More on this phenomenon in a later posting.
Your Class is showing.
The book is a fun read. The author provides a test whereby one can determine social class based on answers to questions about what is in your home. If you walk into someone elses home you can apply this test to see where they stand in social class. The test is at the end of this posting.
The most accurate class indicator
The question of the disparity of our lives aside, the author subscribers to the “Fake it, until you can Make it” approach. However, there is one area that is hard to fake. It’s hard to fake your language.
No matter how you dress, how you wear your hair, or how you furnish your home, the moment you open your mouth, your social class will show. In the seventeenth century Ben Johnson gave us wisdom for the ages. He said, “Language most shows a man.”Speak, that I’m may see thee.”
Seven Deadly Seconds
The authors says that upon meeting someone of the upper class you have about 7 seconds. When you start to speak, the first seven seconds can give you away.
Refined people are extremely sensitive to the words you choose and the way you pronounce them. Unfortunately, one verbal slip could fracture a relationship with an upper and you’d never know the reason…
Likewise, you get about 7 seconds when you meet someone to prove whether your permanent mate material or not. Well educated ears are finely tuned to pick up subtle mistakes. There are sensitive to subtleties that seem perfectly OK to most people
Men or women with “Trophy Spouses” of a different class may face this problem of language at dinner parties or social gatherings. “Mixed class speak” can be deadly. It can reveal the incongruity between what one appears to be and what one is in reality.
This posting was provided for entertainment purposes only – a serendipitous accident of the Dewey Decimal system and the layout of a particular public library which cause me to pick up a book I would have never looked for.
No person of any class was injured in the creation of this writing.
Check out “Class Matters” in the New York Times to interactively explore the components of social class
How Classy is your Home
Begin with a score of 100. For each of the following in your living room ( or those of friends or acquaintances ) add or subtract points as indicated. Then ascertain social class according to the scores at the end.
Floors and floor covering
Hardwood floors solid wood +4
Parquet floor solid wood +8
Stone floor +4
Laminate floor -4
Vinyl floor -6
Wall to wall carpet +2
Shag carpet -4
New oriental rug or carpet -2 each
Worn oriental rug or carpet +5 each
Threadbare rug or carpet +8 each
Working fireplace +4
Gas log fireplace -5
Ceiling 10 feet high or higher + 6
Cathedral ceiling with or without skylights -5
Original painting by internationally recognized practitioner + 8 each
Original drawing, print or lithograph by internationally recognized practitioner + 5 each
Reproduction of any Picasso painting, print, or anything -2 each
Original painting, drawing or print by family members -4 each
Windows curtained, with rods and draw cords + 5
Windows curtained, with no rods or draw cords + 2
Window blinds, mini, plastic -2
Window blinds, mini, metal -1
Window blinds, mini, wood + 1
Window blinds, vertical -3
Wooden Venetian blinds -2
Metal Venetian blinds -4
Genuine Tiffany lamp + 3
Reproduction Tiffany lamp -4
Any work of art depicting, cowboys -3
Professional oil portrait of any member of the household -3
Any display of collectibles -4
Transparent plastic covers of furniture -6
furniture upholstered with any metalic threads -3
Cellophane on any lampshade -4
Ashtray -4 each
Refrigerator, washing machine, clothes dryer in a room for living -6
Motorcycle kept in living room -10
What do you read
National Enquirer -6
Popular mechanics or any vehicle related periodical -5
Reader’s digest -3
National geographic, time, Newsweek, life, etc. -2
Scientific American -1
Town and country + 2
New York review of books + 5
Times literary supplement + 5
Paris Match + 6
Hudson Review + 8
No periodicals -5
Family photograph black and white -2 each
Family photograph color -3 each
Family photograph in sterling silver frame + 3
Potted citrus tree with midget fruit growing + 8
Potted palm tree + 5
Fresh cut flowers + 3
Artificial flowers plastic -5
Artificial flowers silk -3
Bowling ball carrier -6
Fishbowl or aquarium freshwater -4
Fishbowl or aquarium saltwater + 1
Fringe on any upholstered furniture -4
Identifiable naugahyde anything usually made of leather -3
Any item exhibiting words in an ancient or foreign language +7
Tabletop obelisk of marble or glass + 9
Fewer than five pictures on walls -5
Furniture more than 50 years old + 2 each
Bookcase full of books + 5
Overflow books stacked on the floor, chairs, etc. + 6
Hutch bookcase displaying plates, Pots, porcelain figurines, etc. but with no books -4
Wall unit with built in TV, stereo etc. -4
TV, stereo, etc. -6
Piano-grand or baby grand + 4
Fax machine -4
Work of sculpture, original, but not made by householder or any family member + 4 each
Work of sculpture made by householder or any family member -5 each
On coffee table, tiny object from funny or anomalous place + 1
Item alluding specifically to the United Kingdom + 1
Item alluding, even remotely, to Tutankhamen -4
Framed certificate, diploma or testimonial -2 each
Laminated framed certificate, diploma, or testimonial -3 each
Item with a tortoise shell finish, if only made a Formica + 1 each
Eames chair -2 each
Recliner -3 each
Recliner sofa -4 each
Sofa with hidden compartments -5 each
Anything displaying the name or initials of anyone in the household -4
Curved moldings visible anywhere in the room +5
Your Class Score
|245 or above||Upper Class|
|185-244||Upper Middle Class|
|50 – 99||Proletariat ( Working Class)|
|Below 50||Mid to Low Proletariat (Lower Class)|