Americans have always been caught up in class status. Apparently, there has been much pressure on them over the decades to reach and maintain a certain level of monetary value. In this current economic decline, many Americans have had to contend with reduced income vs higher outgo yet maintain some semblance of order. This change has caused many Americans to question themselves as to their new status.
It’s no secret that many Americans now find themselves on the doorstep of entering poverty. According to this article from The Huffington Post, poverty is on the rise with roughly 47.5 million Americans struggling. Poverty is blind to social status and does not discriminate due to age, race or religion. It strikes most everybody. No one is immune anymore. No one.
Why then, I ask myself, when a person may be faced with poverty would they even bother to calculate what social status they can be categorized in? I used to quibble about maintaining a social status (rich to middle class to the new poor) but lately, all I can obsess about is maintaining what I have. I call it a new social phenomenon. I call it ‘Survival Class’. I don’t want to achieve a mark on a social ring. I just want to survive.
Faced with rising food costs, heating/cooling/energy costs, higher medical costs and expenses, gasoline prices, higher taxes and fees, rising commodity costs, I don’t have time to sit around and ponder my net worth. Nor, do I give a damn anymore. It doesn’t take much to fall by the wayside. This is war. An economic war. This is survival of the fittest. To sum it all up, it’s called socialism. America is on it’s way to becoming a socialized nation and the sooner we realize it, make adjustments and toss away our desire for achieving social status, the more successful we (as individuals) will be.
Social status is a very sensitive topic to Americans right now. I think the reality of it all is finally breaking ground. A recent post by a top blogger, The Frugal Girl, shows just how sensitive this subject is. One of her readers wrote a comment that in reality The Frugal Girl, based on her lifestyle, was really poor. That comment infuriated Kristen (The Frugal Girl) so much so, she wrote a post about it which in turn propelled her readers to post hundreds of comments debating the issue. Most everyone was quick to voice their own opinion as to what is or is not considered poor. My question is, who cares? Does it really matter what people think of you? What matters more? What about just being able to pay your own bills, keep a roof over your head and food on the table? If so, that’s ‘Survival ‘mode. Being able to survive and be categorized a ‘survivor’ may be more imperative than your class status, don’t you think?
I’ve often stopped myself, taken a step back and looked at myself from a distance, imagining what others may see and think of me. I’m shopping more now in the poorer sections of town. When I stop and look around me I see fellow shoppers who I know are living in their cars, struggling to make ends meet, yet here we all are, shoulder to shoulder, shopping and frequenting the same commercial outlets. So, what does that make me? I’m not in Bloomingdales. I’m at the Dollar Store. I’m at Goodwill. Yet, when my shopping excursion is over, I drive back to my own home in a newish 2011 car. They are driving back to their apartments either in a taxi or piled up in a rusted old bomb driven by a neighborhood friend. Who am I? Or better yet, who really cares? Truth is, I acquired all my ‘stuff’ in the before time. If I were to do it now, or tomorrow, could I?
So, what’s the true reality? I’m not in any social status circle. I’m in a new social class. It’s called ‘survival’. I’m trying to keep my head above water. Each month, for the past three years, I’ve had to cut something out of my budget. I’ve had to eliminate or do without just to keep treading. This month, I gave up my phone. I’ve had a landline phone for forty five years and this month, I just couldn’t afford to pay the bill any longer. Instead, I upped my internet service speed and purchased a VOIP phone service which will cost me $30 per year vs $75 per month. I’m uncomfortable eating out in a restaurant or paying retail prices now. I find spending money on something like that near unconscionable. These last few years I’ve had to justify my spending rather than maintain some presupposed status.
Another favorite blogger of mine posted today on ‘What Is Middle Class‘? Apparently, you’ll find out if you are by asking yourself these nine questions. I have to inquire: does anyone really care about their social status anymore? Really? In case you haven’t noticed, middle class is being pushed into extinction. It’s not chic or hip to be middle class. Instead, we’re getting a society that is either rich or poor. And guess which one you are going to be in?
Perhaps people don’t want to admit to what I can already see. If you quack like a duck, walk like a duck and act like a duck, then you are a duck. If you shop in lower cost stores, mend your own clothes, buy Goodwill finds (scrape and paint them into usable furniture) drive an older car, do your own repairs and maintenance, own older appliances regardless of the proclamation that you can indeed buy new (yet you don’t) take vacations (but take staycations instead) you don’t need to make vocal justifications. If you’re keeping your head above water you should be very proud of yourself. That takes genius, ingenuity and creativity. Why are we ashamed to proclaim we are the new breed of Americans? We’re ‘Survivor Class‘ and this isn’t some TV reality show. It’s real and it’s now.
It’s preposterous for me to make a statement and say “I choose to shop at Goodwill vs Target” because the truth is I can not afford to shop at Target. If I continued to shop at Target, I’d go broke. I have to shop at Goodwill. Getting a pair of jeans for five bucks beats out Target regardless of their sales. I’m not shopping at Goodwill or consignment shops to save the environment by re-using and re-claiming. I’m shopping there so that I can survive. And I feel great pride in honing and sharpening my survival skills.
If you have the need to categorize yourself into some proclaimed social status, then try ‘Survivor Class’. Throw off the chains of rich, middle or poor and delve into the daily battle and struggle. I don’t have to tell you that we are living in challenging and somewhat threatening times. Accept who you are and embrace who you want to be. I want to be a survivor. I want to keep on living a good and decent life. I want to make it. I want to live to see my grandchildren and tell them stories about ‘the days when Grand Mama used to wear platform shoes and danced the night away at Studio 54 at a time when having fun and enjoying life were all that mattered’.
Class? My a**.
And so the beat goes on.