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Do we really need status?
Because it's getting in the way of my leisure
So much of what drives people to hoard wealth and give other people (and themselves) extra work isn’t wanting to have well-being or happiness in absolute terms, but instead wanting to have more of it than others.
I imagine there was an evolutionary reason that we grew to be so conscious of our place relative to each other. But I wonder if we’re stuck thinking in these terms, and if perhaps now that mindset has outgrown its use. There are many primal impulses that are no longer a driving force in our society, and perhaps status-seeking should be next.
Even some workaholics (myself included) disdain people mainly driven by external recognition. This is a huge theme in The Wire (one of my favorite shows and a horrible celebration of workaholism), made explicit when Lt. Daniels asks Carver: “Is it about you, or about the work?” I love that line. However, status-obsession also comes in the form of wanting to “be about the work,” more than others. Subtler and “nobler,” maybe, but still status-obsession.
It seems like a lot of religious traditions deal with status-seeking as a basic problem of happiness—seeing the universe in separate/comparative terms as opposed to as an interconnected system. I guess that puts us in good company as we consider another guiding question for these dispatches: what is status? Are we, as humans, condemned to be obsessed by some form of it?
Or can we break away? Because if we could, it’d be a lot less work.