Status, Ô Status.

Causes and solutions of our status anxiety.

Good day to you!

I hope this note finds you well.

As you know, our mission is to help people free themselves from rampant consumerism, so that they can dedicate more time, money and bandwidth to be and build. 👉 We want to be the tool that empowers your future materialistic decisions.

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Kev and I got married in June 2017. Our wedding wishlist was the following 👉 your favorite book of all times - you know, that one you can’t stop preaching about - , signed by you.

We’ve been surprised by the randomness of books we received, and three and a half years later, we’re still discovering pure gems. Today I want to dig into one I read recently - well, first, I loved it and I am certain you could to :) plus I think it is pretty on point to explain unconscious bias we have, we, humans: Status Anxiety by Alain de Bottom. I am also taking that opportunity to thank our dear friends Gilles & Aude, for putting it on the pile 🙏🎁

Kev, myself and Max on a very hot (and beautiful) day. Best idea ever to: marry this dude, co-found companies with these two, the book list (not sure in which order).

What do people think about me?

This book - and post - is about status we, humans are seeking, to give meaning to our lives. And the anxiety that comes along ; across times but especially today. Alain de Bottom’s book is a brilliant analysis on the causes to this current burden that probably affects us all (in different proportions but I am quite certain on the “all” here) as well as the potential solutions we could be working on. I’ve found very interesting (who said uncomfortable?) to screen oneself through this spectrum.

I decided to pick up one paragraph for each of them, so you can get an idea of what Alain is talking about - and maybe want to read the whole book, too.

Causes of Status Anxiety

Lovelessness

Our ‘ego’ or self- conception could be pictured as a leaking balloon, forever requiring the helium of external love to remain inflated and vulnerable to the smallest pinpricks of neglect. There is something sobering and absurd in the extent to which we are cheered by attention and damaged by disregard.

Snobbery

The word ‘snobbery’ came into use for the first time in England during the 1820s. It was said to have derived from the habit of many Oxford & Cambridge colleges of writing sine nobilitate (without nobility) or ‘s.nob.’ next to the names of ordinary students on examination lists in order to distinguish them from their aristocratic peers. (...) someone without status.

Snobs comprise (...) all those who insist loudly on a scale of values.

Expectation

We envy only those whom we feel ourselves to be like; we envy only members of our reference group. There are few successes more unendurable than those of our close friends.

We are not always humiliated by failing at things; we are humiliated only if we first invest our pride and sense of worth in a given achievement, and then do not reach it.

Meritocracy

To the injury of poverty, a meritocratic system now added the insult of shame.

Dependence

Three Acres and Liberty, Bolton Hall (1907): to lead a happy life, one should attempt to escape reliance on employers in order to work directly for oneself, at one's own pace, for one's own happiness.

If such instability of employment matters, it is not only because of money. It is also, to return to our earliest theme, because of love, because work is the chief determinant of the amount of respect and care we will be granted. It is according to how we can answer the question of what we do - normally the first enquiry we will field in a new encounter - that the quality of our reception is likely to be decided.


Solutions for Status Anxiety

Philosophy

(…) the views of the majority of the population of subjects are permeated with extraordinary confusion and error. (…) The reason for this defectiveness of opinion lies in the public's reluctance to submit its thoughts to the rigours of rational examination and its reliance on intuition, emotion and custom instead.

Cynics are only idealists with awkwardly high standards.

What matters is not what we seem to a random group, but what we know we are.

Art

Rather than mocking us for our concern with status, the kindest comics tease us: they criticize us while implying that we remain essentially acceptable.

The great artists of everyday life may help us to correct a range of snobbish conceptions of what there is to esteem and honour in the world.

Politics

Under necessaries, therefore, I comprehend not only those things which nature, but those things which the established rules of decency have rendered necessary to the lowest rank of people" Adam Smith

(...) the modern ideal of a successful life imputes a further connection: between making money and being happy.

Rousseau began by claiming that, however independent-minded we might judge ourselves to be, we are dangerously poor at understanding our own needs.

If we cannot stop envying, it is especially poignant that we should spend so much of our lives envying the wrong things.

The essence of idealogical statements is that, unless our political senses are developed, we will fail to spot them. Ideology is released into society like colourless, odourless gas.

Christianity

The thought of death brings authenticity to social life. There may be no better way to clear the diary of engagements than to wonder who among our acquaintances would make the trip to the hospital bed.

It is the rich, the beautiful, the famous and the powerful to whom death has the cruelest lessons to teach, the very categories of people whose worldly goods take them , in the Christian understanding, furthest from God.

Christian moralists have hence long understood that, to reassure the anxious, it may be best to emphasize that, contrary to what an optimistic mindset teaches us, everything will in fact turn out for the worst (...) To consider our petty status-worries from the perspective of a thousand years hence is to be granted a rare, tranquilizing glimpse of our own insignificance.

Bohemia

"Man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can do without" Thoreau.

To the role-model of the lawyer, the entrepreneur and the scientist, bohemia has added the poet, the traveller and the essayist. It has proposed that these characters too, whatever their eccentricities and material shortfalls, may be worthy of an elevated status of their own.

Philosophy, art, politics, Christianity and bohemia did not seek to do away with a status hierarchy; they attempted to institute new kinds of hierarchy based on sets of values unrecognized by, and critical of, those of the majority. (...)

In

Sharing the best of what we’ve read & listened to recently - enjoy!

Book:

Article:

Quote:

When Alexander the Great passed through Corinth, he visited the philosopher Diogenes and found him sitting under a tree, dressed in rags, with no money to his name. Alexander, the most powerful man in the world, asked if we could do anything to help him. 'Yes,' replied the philosopher, 'if you could step out of the way. You are blocking the sun.' Alexander's soldiers were horrified, expecting an outburst of their commander's famous anger. But Alexander only laughed and remarked that if he were not Alexander, he would certainly like to be Diogenes. - Status Anxiety, Alain de Botton

Have a beautiful day and a restful weekend! 🥨

Mathilde