What's the Big Idea?
"You're probably living in an upper middle class bubble if..." A variety of patterns of behavior can be inserted to complete this sentence, such as Downton Abbey watching or the consumption of boutique beer.
And yet, even more telling behaviors are the types of activities that you may never have experienced. For instance, have you ever held a job that caused a body part to hurt at the end of the day? Let's say your feet ache because your job requires you to stand all day. "If you have never held such a job, you are intrinsically, inherently, ineluctably unable to understand the lives of a great many of your fellow countrymen who do hold such jobs."
So says the American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray, who designed a quiz to gauge whether certain Americans are living in a bubble, that is to say, blind to the behaviors and interests of most Americans. Murray presents this quiz in his book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (now out in paperback) that diagnoses the problem of the divergence of the American classes since the 1960s.
Since much of Murray's audience is from the upper middle class, "I wanted to convince them of the degree to which they are isolated," he told Big Think in a recent interview. Quantitative data can only prove so much, so Murray said, “I’ll let them prove it to themselves.” And so Murray came up with a 25-item "Bubble quiz," which he lays out in the video below.
Watch the video here:
What's the Significance?
The narrow elite, Murray says, "have drawn away from the rest of the country and formed enclaves and cultures of their own." Their behaviors separate them from mainstream America in almost every way. So Murray hopes his quiz will have "a salutary effect on bringing to people’s attention the degree to which they live in a bubble that seals them off from an awful lot of their fellow American citizens."
While you will have to buy Charles Murray's book to take the full quiz, here is a 20-question spinoff that was inspired by his book:
Full disclosure: I took the quiz and realized that while I can "see through my bubble" I need to cut down on my Downton Abbey viewing and get out more!
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