Thursday, August 14, 2008

The American obsession with status - a substitute for British class?

During this trip every tour guide (book, leaflet or human!) has obsessed with "the longest, shortest, oldest" to the point where the urban village I visited today is in the top 7 urban spaces/communities. Now I don't think Forbes publishes top 7 lists, so: either they were seventh and preferred that status to top ten; or Forbes does publish a top 7 list. Even so, my perception shows the point anyway, it's what I expected of them - 7th in the US was not enough.

I have visited the third oldest working watermill on the Eastern seaboard previously. Why cannot "very old" suffice? Was the Eastern bit added to make it third and not 10th?

But to my point. Class in the UK is about status (see the Frost Report sketch with Ronnies Barker and Corbett and John Cleese - I'm sure it's on Youtube*). People gain positive or inverted pride in their relative status.

In the US this was deflected into racial equal rights and so on. Now I'm not saying those problems are gone, but is there some latent human need to classify and position yourself in a list?

* yes it is -

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