Friday Ephemera
Those Critical Faculties

When Your Opinions Are Social Jewellery

The TRIGGERnometry duo interview Rob Henderson, coiner of the term luxury beliefs:

Luxury beliefs I define as ideas and opinions that confer status on the upper class, while often inflicting costs on the lower classes… The way that people used to demonstrate their social class was through material goods, through expensive items… Today, it’s not necessarily the case… [Affluent] students will often downplay their wealth or even lie about how rich their parents are… [Now,] it’s luxury beliefs. It’s the unusual, novel viewpoints that they’re expressing to distinguish themselves. They crave distinction, that’s the key goal here…

An easy way to show that you’re not a member of the riff-raff, the masses, is to hold the opposite opinion, or a strange opinion that maybe doesn’t make sense, because it shows you’re not one of them. It’s not just the opinion itself, but the way that you express it. If you express it using vocabulary that no-one has ever heard of, for example… You often are not paying the price for your luxury beliefs, but even if you do, it’s still not nearly the same as the cost inflicted on the lower classes if they were to adopt those luxury beliefs too. […]

I talked to a friend of mine who was telling me, “When I set my Tinder radius to one mile, just around the university, and I see the bios of the women, a lot of their profiles say things like ‘poly’ or ‘keeping it casual’ – basically, they’re not interested in anything too serious.” He says something like half of them have something like that in their bio. And then he said, “But when I expand the radius on my Tinder to five miles, to include the rest of the city and the more run-down areas beyond the university bubble, half the women are single moms.” And basically, the luxury beliefs of the former group, the educated group, trickled down and ended up having this outsize effect on the people who are less fortunate, who don’t have the [social and] economic capital of the people who can afford that belief.

Several examples are given, along with their likely effects if enacted by the cash-strapped and credulous. One or two of them have of course been touched on here before. Indeed, we have a tag for such things, via which you can find one of Mr Henderson’s early articles on the subject.

Mr Henderson’s Substack can be found here.

Also, open thread.