It was about time that I had to (or wanted to) rethink of my social status when I looked for a book about it. Whenever any question or uncertainty or curiosity occurs to me, I go to Wikipedia or Google to find information or answers and buy books at Amazon. Often times, I stop reading a book when more interesting books come up or the book I read is somewhat boring or I don’t find answers in it. I read the book ‘Status Anxiety’ halfway – my Kindle said I am at 51%. That’s why this posting is (Half) Book Review. My initial plan was to post a review after I finish the book. But there was an encounter that I was reminded of this book.
Before the Industrial Revolution in the western cultures, de Botton explains in his book, there were three classes: Royal, clergy and peasant. The three classes were inherited by birth and unchangeable. The people then were happy as their inherited class was something they couldn’t do anything about. The royal class appreciated the peasant class for providing labor that supports its class and vice versa. However, the materialistic affluence as a result of the Industrial Revolution changed the mindset of the people. The upper class people wanted different commodities – i.e., better ones to differentiate from those of the lower class – utilizing the surplus materials. There was one point in the book that surprised me but I can’t quite recall it clearly without the book with me as I am writing. It was about a newspaper or journal article that challenged the mindset of the people, stating the unfairness of the social classes. Then the people started thinking differently that their social class can change. What was surprising was the one article changed people’s thought towards the social class.
What seemed unchangeable was indeed changeable if one has capability to do so by having wealth. It was a great change as one can dream of moving up the social ladder. However, if the change brought the good to the people, the bad also existed. Because the social standing was an indicator of one’s capability and changeable, if one thinks his/her social standing is not high enough, then he/she could feel less capable and anxious. This was pretty much the historical background of status anxiety asserted by the author. I totally agree with his point as I often feel anxious in the society. And it is totally hard not to judge people by their social status or standing, especially in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. As long as I live in a capitalist country, I won’t be free from such judgement and anxiety. But I at least try not to be a slave to it to maintain a healthy mind. Along the way to find a relief of status anxiety, I met this book, which was good to the point of 51%.
Several days ago, I met a man who was born with a very shiny silver spoon in his mouth. How hard I try and how good of a person I am, the society I live in will see us differently even though we pretend not. I am smart enough to know that an intrinsic human trait is the more one has, the more he/she wants. I often find myself striving not to lose what I have earned and to earn more or better even though I pretend not. I am old enough there are more important things in life. However, there are times I feel interior and less important because of social status. I shall finish the book soon to find out what the author had to say about it.