The Yeas, Nays & Okays of Social Climbing
Social climbing is one of those machinations that a person will rarely admit to deploying. He or she is more likely to confess to not praying regularly or not being a good enough parent, than to initiating schemes of social advancement.
If that isn’t tedious enough, there are some who regularly accuse and sneer at others for being social climbers. I wonder why. Since none of us know what the future holds, how can we be certain who belongs where, or what someone’s place ought to be? And why is it ‘wrong’ for a person to aspire for a higher social standing?
Erm, because they are not deserving of it? If they are not, then they will fail, and if they are, then they will succeed, na?
When I say they, I ought to clarify that social climbers are not a homogenous category. For some it is just enough to reach a (perceived) higher social strata, for a particular purpose, while others wish to remain indefinitely as they are driven by identification and association rather than by a defined target.
And let us not be too quick to judge those whom we perceive as downwardly mobile. We assume that being in a higher social category is more beneficial. Well, maybe not continuously and certainly not for one’s peace of mind.
There are people who deliberately ‘drop out of the social scene’ so to speak, because they prefer more academic, intellectual, familial, artistic or spiritual pursuits. There are also others, who after uninterrupted years of frenzied social, business and political activities, prefer more quiet time. Each to their own, I say.
If I were to pass any judgment on issues relating to social climbing or creeping, I would say that it is not the desire to ascend (or descend), but particular methods employed to do so, that are detestable.
Like? Well, the tactic of continuously enthusing about every wealthy and important person (mind you, without making eye contact) there is. How odious is that? Especially when it is inserted into the conversation, relevant or otherwise. Ugh. Boring.
Another is zeroing in on a VIP target and fabricating a past with that person. Invariably, the fictitious ‘common past’ is cleverly designed to remove traces of the VIPs genuine friends and connections, and replace them with ‘memories’ of the new and improved companions. Sigh.
And with the advances in photoshop, ‘tangible’ proof can be produced upon demand. Deeper sigh.
A third (annoying) practice is transposing imaginary qualities onto the person or group that is identified as being worthy of association. This is usually accompanied with unceasing monologues containing superlative adjectives, delivered in melodious tones and with glazed expressions. Very, very tiresome for the listener, especially one who knows the ins and outs of the person or group being praised to glory and back.
A fourth is blatant self- aggrandizement about being liked, appreciated, and invited. The intention behind this approach is to trigger a chain reaction of acceptances into any and every higher social group, but expressed in excess, can have the opposite effect.
A fifth, but understandably requisite one, is a pre-invention, or a deliberate alteration of past circumstances. Uff! But a necessary evil, and one that engenders mocking sadly.
A sixth….ok, no more (I need to keep a few strategies aside for my own use).
To conclude, social climbing, with all its negative connotations, is a function of society because in order to remain in existence, the higher social classes need to eliminate the dissolute elements and replace them with more dynamic constituents. Therefore, whether we embrace it with gusto or disavow it with vehemence, as with most other social variations, conversions, and deviations, eventually it is the market which will decide on the equilibrium.
Chintamoni grew up in Dhaka, where she will always belong, but never quite fit in. She is an enthusiastic traveller, a compulsive procrastinator, and a contumelious raconteur.