Subtleties

I certainly have already upset some people with my posts in the past.  And I’m a bit bored right at this moment so…I think I’m going to just go for it.  It’s fascinating to me.

I’m going to give my impression of indicators of class.  I’ll likely avoid the most offensive things I could say (not in spite but in brutal honesty) to not garner too much hate since while I did close the comments on this blog my Instagram is still vulnerable to ugly messages or comments.

Yay!

When people talk about social class cues I think they often come up with three things: cars, homes, and clothing (including accessories).  But I think that’s because a lot people having that discussion are middle class and those are very middle class ways of indicating your social standing.

I don’t think clothing or cars (and to some degree housing) are clear indicators of anything other than whether or not you’re dirt poor.

There.  I’m sure I just pissed someone off by saying that…  Ha!  Oh well.  I’m not trying to.  I just really don’t think they are…

See…if you save or buy on credit you can have almost anything in regard to clothes and cars unless you’re truly poor.  One Rolex or a Tiffany and Co. engagement ring with a nice sized diamond is doable by the working class if they go into debt or save for long enough. And you can have a decent, somewhat “expensive” and at least fairly new wardrobe and only be lower middle class. Etc. Etc.

Perhaps having many luxurious clothing items, more than one luxury car or a combination of enough of both might mean you’re more likely to be at least middle middle class (and too far in debt for it to be wise most often if you are just middle middle class). Or you’re brilliant at finding good deals or you know how to budget and save and you only splurge on cars and clothes. But bargain hunting and splurging occasionally aren’t indicators of class necessarily either…. Or you’re upper middle class, well off and enjoy either showing others your affluence or using luxury goods.   Or you are wealthy but newly wealthy and don’t realize how quickly money goes…. Or you’re wealthy and don’t care how quickly money goes and are at least a tiny bit of a hedonist? …But…truly… it takes a lot of nice clothes and definitely more than one really nice car to mean you’re even rich or well-off…much less wealthy, in my opinion. And frankly buying an excessive amount of expensive things is suspect when it comes to class because while that might mean you have more money it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re well-bred or grounded enough to keep your wealth long enough to be truly upper class. Indeed, general overspending really does indicate a lack of sophistication in my opinion.   Or it means you have an addiction…   Or it can often mean you’re insecure about your status and trying to seem wealthy or more wealthy.  And truly, blowing away all or almost all of your millions in a few decades or less is not particularly upper class regardless of how many millions you had. At all.

Also, I guess…basically…there are so many truly upper middle class or upper class people who are frugal (to the point of absurdity at times) that clothing and cars (often two terrible ways to spend money if you look at it objectively) are not good indicators of class.  And, again, there are soo many people trying to seem wealthy who aren’t, (although they often fool their social equals, those who are naturally a bit naive, and those beneath them), who overspend so much on cars and clothes that it further clouds those indicators.   Clothing, cars (and housing) are just not useful ways to measure someone’s class…

That being said, the way you wear your clothes matters.  The way you wear your hair means something…   The style you wear or how stylish you are indicates something, at least. It might just mean that you’re efficient or artistic though, if you dress well…

And, to clarify, when it comes to housing it’s the quality that matters (if it even works all that much as a definite indicator). Quantity matters to some degree but…quality (and I don’t just mean size) is a much better cue. And while many people think home ownership is a good indicator I don’t think it’s all that accurate. However, not being able to buy a home does tend to rule you out of being as socially high as at least the middle middle class depending on where you want to live. For example, let’s say the median home price in the US is $188,000 (that’s fairly accurate as I write this) and let’s say you can afford that but you can’t afford a house that’s $600,000 and homes are almost all around $600,000 where you live. You might be middle middle class in that case, easily, and just live in a well off area (home ownership is not the best indicator given regional differences).

BUT here are two living examples of people who further explain what I mean and where I’m going with this:

I know a woman in her 70’s who has had a long mink coat for decades that’s in impeccable condition (she likely purchased it new).  And she uses it to go the opera with her husband and has for a long time.  Or she might wear it to the ballet…  Both she and her husband have season tickets to the local opera, ballet, and etc.  They travel around the world elegantly every year and have for many years.  They donate money and time. They own a nice house. They likely have a net worth that’s at least in the millions if not tens of millions of dollars and they invest very wisely.  She came from a wealthy, well educated and fairly sophisticated immediate family. Both she and her husband are well educated, highly intelligent, forward-thinking (despite her lovely mink 😂☺️), have lots of life experience and are both politically and socially very well connected. They have one daughter who is well educated, brilliant, financially well off (or wealthy), sophisticated and extremely well traveled. They’re also in various clubs and etc. To put it bluntly, they are upper middle class at least.  And actually, they are more than likely, upper class.  But…she has never made a “big deal” about her mink.  She doesn’t make a “big deal” about anything she wears or owns. Although she does have pride and so does her husband. They are also quite frugal… However, what she does wear she wears neatly, carefully, and her tastes are lovely and unassuming.

I knew another woman who worked very hard and had three kids. She was a pre-school teacher. Her husband didn’t work much or at all. They hadn’t gone to college. They lived in an apartment that was fairly decent. BUT her husband spent money they didn’t have on decorations for their apartment, video games, and other unnecessary things so frequently that they had to often borrow money from friends, co-workers and neighbors to pay for food. Then…one day…she announced that she and her husband had gone out and bought a brand new car (they didn’t need). She was a little bit conceited about it and certainly oblivious to how offensive it was to those she had relied on for money for food. Another day she bought a new handbag she just “had to buy” (although it was a gift for someone). They also took a vacation to Hawaii around this time… You might not have guessed it from looking at her, hearing her chatting about visiting Hawaii, or meeting her casually (based on her clothes, or car, etc. per se) but she was poor… She truly couldn’t even afford toilet paper after her financial expenses. Although, she did lack a certain comfortability or natural, unaffected ease with what she wore and with what she owned.

What does indicate class – what does hint at your actual (honest) assets (physical and non physical), in my opinion, are: 1. Your particular perspective on anything and everything, 2. How insecure you are, or how ashamed or honest you are about certain things and what you’re insecure, ashamed or dishonest about (that’s closely related to perspective – sorry), and 3. How comfortable you are in various situations and how you present yourself… I guess, really, to summarize, one’s perspective and all the variations on that are reliable indicators to me of class. And it’s often very subtle.

Now

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.