This blog is about to become a mess, at least in my mind. But it already is a bit of a meandering, at times poorly worded and rambling mess, I guess, so what’s the difference? I know I’m a decent writer to a point but goodness I don’t edit well enough (in my opinion) and when I’m flustered, stressed-out or angry I make embarrassing typos and suddenly and mysteriously “forget” which version of their\they’re\there to use.
But you see, I’ve changed my mind and realized a thing or two in the last few weeks. First, I’m an intj and infj in equal measure. For years I’ve been operating under the idea that I was just putting on the “thinking” to be strong for myself and that I am really a pure infj at my core. However, I think I just am an intj at least in equal measure to an infj, if not more so. And it’s been awful actually. Most of the misunderstandings I’ve experienced in life with otherwise decent people have stemmed from them taking something I said or did and not realizing the well-intentioned aspect of the seeming coldness, condescension, cutting edge or distance. Actually, it’s a bit like using the wrong form of the word their. They read it, “Their is the ugly house.” (please read with a tone of disdain) when it’s actually, “There is the ugly house.” (read with a tone of some unassuming detachment but interest). I’m coldly calling a house ugly because it is. I’m not trying to be hurtful. At all. But they inherently read that “their” as being the right form for some reason that still escapes me (but has always intrigued me) and start thinking that a. I’m an idiot who can’t form a proper sentence to save my life and, b. that I’m a jerk who is looking down on some poor fool for their best attempt at home ownership. It’s been heartbreaking my whole life to be slapped in the face with people’s misunderstanding. And of course, it’s been equally heartbreaking to project my good intentions on other people only to later see their ill-intent to hurt me in some subtle way that doesn’t come naturally to me. I’ve had to force myself to look at their words and actions in painful detail and dissect what the hell they actually meant when I gave them a million benefits-of-the-doubt and thought they were just being objective.
Basically, things have to make sense to me. I long to understand. And things usually do make sense eventually. Or I ruminate for as long as it takes to figure “it” out.
But I still do think western society is crumbling and I still do think people are more hostile recently (last five years or so) than they have been in the last twenty to thirty years at least. And I still will hesitate to open up on this blog in such a way that I can be easily hurt again.
Yet, I’ve realized I need to talk. I need to explain. I need to deal with why I thought I should give up on being so open. Give up on it entirely. And in order to explain I have to make a “personal post” on this blog. So I’m going back on what I wrote earlier about never doing that again, and therefore I’m also making something slightly confusing to untangle unless you read every post in the order it was posted. Oh well.
OK. Here goes. I’ll start with basics.
In my estimation there are two factors that make up your social class. One is your material assets and the other is your non-material assets. The non-material assets are where people get the most confused in the US. Although I think people are extremely confused about class in general.
Let’s start from the top of the heap in regard to material assets (I’m using dollars to explain): I don’t think it’s accurate to say that anyone but those with at least a definite two to three million dollars (net) are wealthy. But that’s the entry-level of wealth. And it works a bit like the middle-class (again, at least in my estimation). Those with that lower level of wealth are the “lower middle-class” of the wealthy set. Once you have perhaps 25 to 100 million you are more solidly “middle-class” in your wealth. Anything above a 100 million makes you very wealthy. And the rare super wealthy are the billionaires.
Anyone with a net worth below two to three million but above about one million is rich but not wealthy. Anyone with a net worth below about a million dollars but above about $200,000 is well-off depending on age. People in their late 40’s and older with only $200,000 net are not well-off if they plan to retire before they’re likely too old to enjoy it (assuming they’re working).
If you have less than $200,000 in your net worth and you’re young or in reasonably good health with some source of income that can sustain you and possibly cause you to have a lot more money if you don’t make too many foolish financial decisions then you’re “doing ok” and are potentially somewhat stable but you’re not well-off. Furthermore, anyone with less than $50,000 or so in net worth is in danger and if they don’t have a good source of income or are in bad health they may become poor or already are. Less than a stable income (with an equally unfortunate net worth) and you’re clearly poor.
That’s harsh but, I think, fairly accurate. And the funny thing is if people looked at it that coldly we’d all be a lot more depressed about how in debt and lacking in long-term “financial health” most of us are. It’s also easy to think that if you have debt but also have “assets” like a nice house or car that you’re better off financially than you are. But truly, I think, you have to weigh how much you can actually make from those assets against that debt. Otherwise it’s just financially dangerous self-deception that leads you think that you have more material resources than you actually do.
Most people are not wealthy. Few people are rich. Only a fair amount are truly well-off and a lot of people are struggling in some way financially.
(This is going to be a long post. There’s a reason I avoided this but I now realize it was necessary.)
Now, non-material assets are tricky. Those include complicated things like your family history, education level, where you grew-up, what you’ve been exposed to otherwise and the like. I would generally say that family history gets top billing followed very closely by education level. Coming in third is where you grew-up. And the wild-card that can almost make-up for everything with the exception of family history is what you’ve been exposed to in life.
It’s fairly simple if you’re objective about it. Obviously if you come from a family that has been collecting non-material and material status positively for generations you have a higher social status. If your family of origin wasn’t middle class but working class it affects you your whole life. You can be a billionaire but you’ll never be the social equal (objectively and truthfully speaking) of someone who’s family was solidly middle-class (or higher obviously) and who is your equal otherwise. It’s sad if you want to be “top dog” and come from a poorer family background but that’s where one has to be deep enough not to let your social status determine your overall self-worth. Also, there are many people with that background who have done amazing things out of that insecurity because they’re trying to prove something about the intrinsic value of their soul. If they do it humbly, brilliantly and kindly enough it can be world changing in a great way.
And by what you’re exposed to I mean acquiring “life knowledge” and sophistication (still vague sorry). Just watch the 1954 version of “Sabrina” and you’ll see what I mean. Audrey Hepburn’s character goes to Paris and accumulates a wealth of understanding and “worldliness” and becomes quite the impressive lady in her own right. She can’t make up for her family history, lack of material assets, and almost can’t make up for her education level (one can assume she hasn’t been educated beyond high school). But she’s so “cultured” and yet has the good taste, wisdom and perspective to be careful (along with an incredible amount of natural beauty) that she genuinely turns the heads of the upper-class. And then she “marries in” and while she isn’t truly “one of them” in the way she would have been had she been born into it, she comes as close as you can. And it’s not the same thing for women or men who are “self-made” with her background but don’t “marry in.” You have to “marry in” (and permanently keep that association) or let your descendants “join” the solid upper-class in every way when they establish your family in the years to come if you’re “self made.”
And this finally brings me to class. I believe there’s (from bottom to top): poor, working-class, middle class (subdivided into lower, middle and upper), and finally upper-class (subdivided into lower, middle and upper). It’s really a rough sort of scale. Again, obviously, the more non-material assets and more material assets you have the higher your status. With the caveat that some people come from such “old families” in some way that regardless of their current material assets they still cling to a higher social status than they would otherwise. And, as I alluded to before, there are some people who don’t “marry in” to a higher status and are lacking in the non-material assets, especially family background, enough that regardless of material assets they are lower on the scale to the point that they might have only a weak standing in the upper class (even if their material assets rank them higher).
Now, when I talk about family background and its importance I do so because in that is included vast depths that are basically almost impossible to describe in one post. It’s that profound. It’s that stuck in stone. And it seemingly always has been in one way or another. Family of origin really is important in every conceivable way as a human.
And while education is important as a non material asset and is incredibly complex too (for example) it still doesn’t equal a human family in its impact (in any regard). It just can’t. Same for the other forms of non-material assets.
SO, all that to explain a bit of where I was coming from in my previous posts. And I could go on and on and on and refine my assessment of the terrain I just covered to make it more clear and airtight but I don’t think I will right now.
But let me explain more.
See, I have had a very confusing life in some ways. And as an intj that is very difficult. And in the last six to seven years (slightly longer) or so I’ve had to totally reevaluate things about my family and self in regard to social status in light of new information that was kept quiet, hidden or misunderstood. Or people misinformed me intentionally (although not consciously most likely) out of naivete or some genuine goodness stemming from a very lovely and kind view of the world in certain ways. But regardless of what happened it’s been very disorientating and embarrassing. Embarrassing because I’ve had to go into the hostile terrain of class and be willing to make an accidental ass of myself with my lack of clarity. Embarrassing because I take things apart slowly to get them right but am often in situations where I’m expected to already “know what’s going on” or hurt someone or possibly get hurt myself.
Anyway, this has been a personal issue I’ve been tinkering with and ironing out intensely and it’s been on my mind consciously or subconsciously. At the same time, that’s not to say that it’s an obsession. I just ponder things (and not just this) a lot. I’m an introvert (and thinker). And what I’m thinking about will eventually emerge in discussion.
AND when I started blogging about perfume and posting on Instagram and found a world of other people who love olfactory beauty and analyzing that beauty as a way to appreciate, protect and have pure joy in it I was delighted. These people were almost like magic. I was thrilled they existed. But then, I found the downside. And really, it hasn’t been particularly bad for years. But then slowly and surely people started becoming more filled with deceptive hostility. They became more competitive. And more often than was at all pleasant, every aspect of my being became objects of scorn, jealousy or bitter and at times almost violent envy to the point that it became intolerable. This beautiful space had shown its true nature; like a friend who finally reveals their flaws when they finally feel safe. It was jarring and painful. And mostly because I really needed that safe place intellectually and emotionally. We all do. I loved how insulated the community was from so many awful things that seemingly are hurdles in communication, creating closeness or experiencing joy in a lot of human interactions otherwise. But then I found out the weakness.
People who collect things sometimes (definitely not always) come with prickly and hurtful edges in regard to class. It just makes sense… And given my own inner ongoing discussion I found the need to confront the ensuing irritations. And being an intj I wanted to experiment and see what would happen if I shared a few of my new found truths about who I am with the ugly side of things. I wanted to see if the bitterness would respond with more bitterness or if people would acknowledge the seeming pointlessness of the misdirected hostility. I wanted to test the waters. And I was angry because I hate inaccuracy. And I hate dishonesty because it makes getting to the right answer so much more difficult. (equal parts infj and intj) When people are pretentious (the actual definition of the word), ignorant (truly ignorant) or manipulative (i.e. pretend that you’re the problem when they are) I innately become angry.
I am not a pretentious or dishonest person. I am wrong sometimes and I make mistakes but I’m quite genuine. It’s partly just my natural tendency.
Anyway…I learned from my misadventures that you can’t confront people about class. At least not right now. They will almost always take something the wrong way and then it’s all ruined and for no good end. Also, I’ve learned that I have to be strong enough to possibly offend people or accidentally encourage their hatred of me with my social status and my lack of tolerance for cattiness and manipulation.
I’m not sure if I’ll write again on a personal level, but I needed to post this.