Status Symbols

Posted on Dec 21, 2022

What is a status symbol?

While the Cambridge dictionary restricts status symbols to possessions, wikipedia takes a more permissive stance and defines them as

a visible, external symbol of one’s social position, an indicator of economic or social status

I’ll side with the latter. This, of course, bears the questions of what social status actually is, which I will, of course, eschew.

Rather, a list of indicators I believe to have perceived with regards to social status:

  • Being inactive on LinkedIn
  • Feeling free to post whatever stream of consciousness on Twitter
  • Never buying wine, just having it downstairs
  • Being friends with relatives
  • Being in touch with at least some people from every epoch of one’s life
  • Impeccable English without foreign accent
  • Defaulting to English books while reading non-English works in their original language
  • Wearing premium clothes which ‘fit’ perfectly, yet are worn out - they might even have holes
  • Commuting by bike
  • Social capital in the form of diversity: Ethnicities, religions, professions (lawyers, musicians, galerists, fashion people, ballet dancers, construction workers, wood workers, cheese mongers, …)
  • Only having glass bottles at home
  • Having a worn out passport
  • Rimowa suitcases
  • Sharing nonchalantly
  • Having read what there is to read
  • Owning expensive objects but not looking after them
  • Talking about classical music in terms of interpretations, not composers
  • Being above needing to eat
  • Mastery
  • Inheritance issues
  • Owning really old books
  • Not accepting calls - maybe not using one’s phone
  • Receiving non-administrative letters
  • Sacrificing window space and a room’s access to daylight for plants