Sunday, December 13, 2009

An anecdote about subcultures and fragmentation

We have democratized elitism in this country. There is no longer a clear pecking order, with the Vanderbilts and the Biddles and the Roosevelts at the top and everybody else down below. Everybody gets to be an aristocrat now. And the number of social structures is infinite. You can be an outlaw-biker aristocrat, a corporate-real-estate aristocrat, an X Games aristocrat, a Pentecostal-minister aristocrat. You will have your own code of honor and your own field of accomplishment. And everybody can be a snob, because everybody can look down from the heights of his mountaintop at those millions of poor saps who are less accomplished in the field of, say, skateboard jumping, or who are total poseurs when it comes to financial instruments, or who are sadly backward when it comes to social awareness or the salvation of their own souls.

-- David Brooks, "Superiority Complex," The Atlantic Monthly, November 2002.

I was trying to find something about Institute for Justice co-founder Clint Bolick on the Internet recently. After typing in a few letters of his name, Google prompted with a list of suggestions, which mysteriously included many variations on "Clint Bolick" and "girlfriend." I found this odd, because a)most normal humans are actually far less interested in libertarian/conservative legal movement gossip than I am, and b)also, I vaguely recalled hearing that Clint Bolick is married.

Closer examination reveals that lots of people are actually Googling Clint Bowyer, who is some sort of NASCAR star who apparently has a really hot girlfriend. Though I do have a cousin-in-law who works at a NASCAR track back home, I had no idea that this person existed or that people cared about what his girlfriend looked like. C.f the David Brooks essay quoted above.

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