It’s OK That Others’ Snap Judgements of You Are Probably Wrong
Alain De Botton talks about the danger of succumbing to “status anxiety” that leaves you caring too much how others judge your value.
Writer and philosopher Alain De Botton asserts that when you first encounter a stranger in New York City, in about 30 seconds you’ve been categorized, assigned a simplistic persona, and judged. It may be he’s being kind — it probably takes less time than that. But it doesn’t matter, and that’s what De Botton wants to say.
De Botton’s concerned that someone may fall into the pernicious grip of “status anxiety,” a worry that we’re under-appreciated by people we meet.
It’s a problem the moment we exit school, as what we do becomes others’ view of who we are. He calls people who oversimplify and judge others “snobs.” Which is what we are, since we all do it.
Do you have a business card? What does it say you are? Account manager, plumber, nurse, writer, custodian? Is that all that you are? Of course not. So we have to remember first of all how limited such caricatures are, and keep such silly judgements away from our fragile egos.
Next, De Botton would like to see us do what we can do to stop pigeonholing others and making them feel “less than.” It requires a bit more imagination on our parts, a bit more compassion, and a willingness to assume and embrace complexity in others. And it takes time. More time. Upwards of 30 seconds.
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Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.
For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.
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