ghosts of burghers present

Sometimes, when I notice that – the world over – the middle class is reading and doing and buying (oh, god buying) the same things, I get the willies. Like, why should ‘everyone’ be thinking about Noam Chomsky or talking about Theaster Gates? Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with thinking or talking about them. But, the names ‘we’ hear and the things that compel ‘our’ validation… It’s creepy, no? Like, I could make a list of the things ‘we’ all have in common:

  • Single family homes in ‘nice’ neighborhoods (be they urban or suburban, gated or not…)
  • European automobiles – or Subarus
  • We’re all so well-read
  • Up-to-date electronics (iPhones, HD TVs…)
  • Kefir was a ‘thing’ that was everywhere in my corner of the world last year
  • College
  • TRX
  • Meritocratic scholarships
  • Art
  • Steve McQueen (both)
  • Social Justice

None of these things is inherently bad – in fact, they’re mostly good (at least to me, although not kefir or iPhones). But there’s something Orwellian (is the ‘right’ word [he’s been everywhere lately, too], but really ‘Huxleyan’ which [my computer is telling me] is not a word) about the near-perfect lock-step life phasing of, you know,

natural/water childbirth, Montessori pre-school, arts and music magnate elementary school, IB/Cambridge/performing arts middle and high schools, cute (but well-regarded) liberal arts colleges or honors programs in state schools, grad school/marriage, travel! foreign languages! ‘How do we not put mom and dad in a home?’ ‘Let’s take REALLY good care of ourselves (organic food, yoga, meditation, hiking, bicycling) so we age better than they did’ (and die peacefully in our sleep surrounded by loved ones at 120 on our everlasting retirement funds)…

It’s everywhere I’ve been, it’s everyone – I mean EVERYONE – I know. And maybe it’s just a thing, like we only know people like ourselves. Ok. But every once in a while, I look up from my critical theory (!) and freak out a bit because, you know, it’s a little insidious.