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Why Do Some Folks Call Others Elitists and Snobs For Wanting A Better Life For Themselves

Updated on October 1, 2014
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Grace loves to write commentaries on psycho-cultural and sociocultural dynamics in its myriad forms.


Nothing is Wrong With Being Affluent Or Aspiring To Be!

We are taught to be believe that America is a purported classless society. We are further told that socioeconomic class does not matter at all as long as the quality of life is good. We are also inculcated with that love wins over all no matter what the respective person's socioeconomic class may be.

Folks, I have news for you. What you have been taught is just- a myth. In spite of what you may believe, America society has an unwritten socioeconomic class system. Yes, the American socioeconomic class system is more fluid than the European socioeconomic class system. However, there is a socioeconomic class system in American nonetheless.

We all are born into certain socioeconomic class systems whether it is upper income, middle income, or lower income. There are even subdivisions in each class system such as extreme upper income, middle upper income, upper middle income, lower middle come, and upper lower income. Oftentimes, our socioeconomic class of origin influences our cultural and educational aspirations. It even influences our lifestyle, relationship, and career choices.

Socioeconomic class is an important component in our lives. Many times, our socioeconomic class is a determinant as to what we should follow and aspire to. Our socioeconomic class group subconsciously indoctrinate us as what not to aspire to because no one else in that particular socioeconomic class does such. However, there are people who defy the sociocultural indoctrination regarding their socioeconomic class of origin and achieve great success in all areas of their lives.

Although American society applauds socioeconomic success, it subconsciously derives those who aspire to and achieve too much success. Many people portend that it is fine that one should aspire to what they want to be but be the same people they are before they achieve that success. Or if the newly successful person acquires different friends and a new lifestyle, he/she is considered to be inauthentic, a snob, and an elitist. In essence, be modestly successful and do not have the unmitigated audacity to be highly successful.

It seems that being mediocre and achieving only a certain amount of success is the name of the game in American society. We have deified the average Joe/Josephina from the inception of the American republic. We admire the homespun virtues and values of the average Joe/Josephina as he/she is so unpretentious and down to earth. He/she wants to be achieve, of course, but not too much.

God forbid if you want to achieve too much and wants more than an average lifestyle. Then you are put under the societal radar so to speak. If you want to achieve affluence and wealth, you are called greedy and materialistic as if there was something so inherently wrong with having high aspirations. You are also told that "those things should not be matter, a modest amount of success should be enough".

Yes, there are some haters and negaters of the affluent and wealthy. They portend that affluent and wealthy people want too much. They further contend that why should there be affluent and wealthy people when there are others who are not as wealthy as they are. They even have quite fantastical notions that the affluent and wealthy are really not as happy as they are as being less affluent is a component in being happy.

These same people have the outdated saying that money does not buy happiness. While they say this, their faces are actually grimacing in agony! Who are these people fooling actually or if they are in abysmal denial of their actual dismal socioeconomic situation!

Well, there are some people who want the best that life has to offer socioeconomically. They are smart and savvy enough to realize that affluence and wealth can afford them things that making only a modest living does not. Affluent and wealthy people often have better medical care, schools, eat better and more nutritious food, and living in a safer and more maintained neighborhood. Being affluent and wealthy also means that you can provide a better life for your children.

Being wealthy and affluence causes less financial stress and agony. Affluent and wealthy people do not have to worry about paying bills, where the next meal is coming from, and worry if there will be a roof over one's head. They have enough income to cover the necessities in order to having plenty of disposable income to enjoy luxuries. As a result of having more than enough monies to cover expenses, there is hardly any stress in their relationships as those with massive financial worries are bound to encounter. There are many substantiated instances of celebrities, politicians, and other successful people who came from poorer backgrounds stating that they have been in both socioeconomically modest and more affluent circumstances, adding that the latter is indefinitely better!

There are many people who have a subconscious adverse relationship to money. They decry money as an inherent but necessary evil. They contend that money is not necessarily important to lead a well balanced life. They further disparage those who want to live a socioeconomically affluent and/or wealthy life as vapid materialists with voids in their lives. They contend that if the latter have enriched personal lives, they would not so "manically" pursue socioeconomic success! They are quite content with their socioeconomically modest lifestyles.

Or are they ? These are the exact same people who incessantly complain about making ends meet and wondering how they are going to pay a certain bill this month! They are so busy paying their bills that they have nothing left over for the things that they want to do! They purport being happy with a modest income while subconsciously wishing to be better off socioeconomically. Even they "wish" for socioeconomic success, they delude themselves that they are happier and better people than those who attain a high level of socioeconomic success because they portend that inwardly, the latter are extremely deficient people who only think about achievement and nothing else.

Many people who become more affluent and socioeconomically successful acquire different friends, especially if their former friends are of a more negative mindset. When one becomes successful, besides obtaining a different lifestyle befitting his/her new status, his/her mindset also changes. His/her former friends often cannot and/or refuse to acknowledge the latter's transformation and often consider him/her to be elitist and/or a snob because he/she no longer has a commonality with the former friends.

These former friends and/or associates want him/her to be the same person but that is clearly impossible. As one experiences upward socioeconomic mobiility, he/she becomes an entirely different person with vastly different wants and desires than his/her friends who are not upwardly socioeconomically mobile. I remember a former schoolmate from the lower socioeconomic class who is now a dentist with an extremely lucrative private practice.

This former schoolmate relayed to me that she observed her dismal environment and socioeconomic situation. She wanted to better herself and realized that her friends were negative influences so she dumped her friends and started to apply herself academically. It was her intent to attend college and further. She desired to advance herself socioeconomically and she achieved this goals in addition to acquiring more positive friends.

Of course, many friends of those upwardly mobile people do not want the latter to succeed. They do not understand why the latter would want to leave them and/or the neighborhood. They evidently do not want the latter to change and to always remain the person that they have always known. They also becoming insecure in the fact that the latter is changing and becoming a different person with an entirely different outlook and prospect on life. To the former, this represents uncertainty regarding the friendship.

While some former friends are glad to see their friends progress and become more socioeconomically successful, there are others who deride such success. To the latter, the more successful friend is considered a sell out or unreal. They may even try to emotionally and psychologically sabotage the more successful friend to order to make him/her more like them. They do not want to acknowledge the fact that their friend wants to be highly successful.

It is often an undeniable and cold fact of life that as one becomes more socioeconomically successful in life, his/ her priorities change and evolve and oftentimes he/she have to find similarly minded friends. It is totally pointless for a successful person to retain friends especially if they are not as successful as he/she is. First of all, their respective mindsets towards socioeconomic success is vastly different. Besides that, their life goal aspirations and desires are also different. There are those who believe that since they are not successful that others should be the same.

There is something exhilaration to be highly successful and accomplished. When you have achieved a high level of socioeconomic success, you feel good that you are living and not just ekeing a living and surviving from day to day. You are also somebody! You are treated better and with more respect. That is a fact of life in society, the affluent and wealthier classes are treated with more deference and respect than those less affluent. Let us ponder this matter, who is more respected a doctor or a laborer, a CEO or a chambermaid? If you guess the latter, you are on target. Even though we all portend that socioeconomic status should not matter, it matters a lot! Our society often measures a person by his/her earning capacity, like it or not.

Being socioeconomically affluent and wealthy affords one the freedom financially and/or otherwise to pursue individual dreams. When one is affluent and/or wealthy, he/she usually has the monies to indulge in hobbies and to further their goals that a socioeconomically struggling people could ill afford to do. If an affluent and/or wealthy person is temporarily laid off, fired,and/or unemployed, he/she has enough monies to tide them over until another job and/or economic opportunity arrives. Contrast that to the same situation with a person who is struggling socioeconomically, he/she often has to take any job available if he/she does not want the job.

This is nothing wrong with being or aspiring to be affluent and/or wealthy. Affluence and/or wealth provides an extremely high quality of life free of struggle and worry. It also affords one more freedom to pursue the things he/she wants to do. Let us face, money is an important component in regards to a comfortable standard of living. This is a capitalist society and money is the main ingredient regarding this like it or not.

In summation, although American society purports that it is classless, such is not the case. American society is a demarcation of varied socioeconomic classes although the American socioeconomic class is more fluid than its European counterpart. Many people applaud the concept of upward socioeconomic mobility as long as it is not too excessive. In other words, a modicum amount of socioeconomic success is looked upon positively while being and/or aspiring to affluence and/or wealth is viewed as being materialistic, snobbish, and/or elitist or worse. These same people who deride money and/or wealth as an intrinsic but necessary evil actually wish that their socioeconomic status were better; however, their often negative beliefs about money attract a life of socioeconomic struggle and mere survival, instead of socioeconomically thriving!


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    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Thank you for your response!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 5 years ago from North Texas

      You are correct in that there is an unspoken class system here in the states, although it is spoken of in more intimate circles.

      I have never heard of people being called elitists or snobs because they want to improve their circumstances. I have heard of people being derided for leaving behind the people/friends/family who helped them achieve their success, because those people were no longer good enough.

      I come from a blue collar background. My former husband who went to HLS was the son of a man who graduated from TX A&M, a prestigious school. During the summer between my husband's graduating undergrad and on his way to HLS, we lived in an extremely modest rent house. One of my husband's classmates lived in a similar rent house across the street and 2 houses down. We didn't really know them well, but the rent house his classmate and family lived in was owned by the classmate's wife's parents.

      My former husband received full grants to attend HLS, but no money to get there. Over a period of 2 months I held yard sales to raise money for moving/travel expenses, first & last month's rent when we got to Boston, etc. The items on sale were donated to us for our cause. My husband was a "rock star" in the department of his university for having been accepted into HLS, which is extremely difficult to achieve.

      The mother of the classmate's wife came and spent a lot of money at our yard sale and felt very good that she was contributing to a worthwhile cause -- until she found out my husband was on his way to HLS. Until then she knew he was on his way to grad school, but she didn't know which one. Her entire demeanor changed when she learned we were headed to the Boston area so husband could go to HLS. She looked as though someone had slapped her face.

      When people learned my husband was headed to HLS (Harvard Law School), many of them who had previously been friendly suddenly were not. It seemed we no longer fit in our old circle, and yet because of our backgrounds (Texas is hicksville to a lot of people in the Northeast & in other places too) we were not accepted in the next level up either. We didn't change or consider ourselves better than anyone else then nor have either of us ever been snobs. It's almost as though we are a disappointment because we are not snobs.

      While in Boston, our landlady's daughter made it clear, as did our landlady for that matter, that they considered us bumpkins -- because we were from Texas. They had lived their entire lives in the Boston area and landlady's daughter was born there. They had a fair share of money. Landlady's daughter and son-in-law had both attended Harvard University -- and not on grants. In other words they could and did pay for it themselves.

      They were examples of what I would call elitists because they looked down on us for where we had come from. They had never known poverty and considered us beneath them. Even though HLS is actually more prestigious than the University itself, where they had attended, they thought themselves better than us, and they were unable to hide that fact. I think they may have learned the error of their ways, but that is another story.

      I do think people need to remember where they came from and especially remember the people who helped them dig themselves out. I realize that some people who do not succeed in digging themselves out may be jealous and resentful of those who do. They need to deal with their own unreasonable opinions. It has always been my belief that other people's failures do not improve my life, so why resent them if they succeed?

      I also believe that to whom much is given much is expected -- and people who manage to succeed in improving their lives need to give a hand up to the people behind them, some of whom they may have stepped on, on their way up.

      Anyone who thinks money will not buy happiness has never had their electricity turned off for nonpayment or evicted for being unable to pay their rent. They've never needed medical care they couldn't have, or watched a loved one die because of no insurance or money for necessary medical care. They've never been grateful for having nothing to eat except potatoes and milk. Another words, they have no authority to speak about poverty.

      Money may not bring happiness to the wealthy, but if they want to unburden themselves of it, I stand ready not only to relieve them of their burden, but in return I will show them how money CAN buy happiness.

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      idratherbe 5 years ago

      @travelman, you hit the nail on the head. I agree true wealth is family, friendships and being God fearing!

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Everybody wants to be affluent but only few persevere.

      As for me, being rich is not only about money. It is also about friendship, family and to be God-fearing.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 5 years ago from East Coast

      This is a timely and interesting hub. There are many people right now who want to grab at rich people's pockets through taxes and call them or their businesses various names while in the back of their minds they wish it was they who did not live check to check or could afford a home in a nice neighborhood or go on vacation.

      Just walk around in a mall or drive through even low income neighborhoods and you'll see the aspirations to wear Coach, Gucci, Prada, etc., even though the same people wearing these labels, real or fake, often cannot afford to pay their bills. However, it is negative attitudes and "crabpot syndrome" that keeps many in financial situations that they do not like.

      Yes, there are some rich people who had things handed to them or they actually did unethical or illegal things to become rich. However, where is the proof that most, let alone all rich people are this way? Yet there is a belief of illegalities and silver spoons that just won't let up as if significant number of rich people became rich due to their own efforts, talents, creativity, patents, etc.

      I know several rich people who worked like absolute dogs for many years (even through painful failures) to get where they are today. They are smart with their money and don't overspend UNLIKE many Americans. Rich people should not be punished for their hardwork or choices just as poor people should not be punished for theirs.

      The rich that I am speaking of are respectable people yet they are called elitists and told that they had their money handed to them without the "hater" even knowing a fraction of their story. They might hear about (through jealous people's words) a massive home or expensive car that the person worked for decades to earn and in just one sentence the "hater" tries to pull that person's efforts and that person down to their level. I find this very insulting.

      Two of these rich people I know really had it rough in their childhood or as young adults and they too decided they would do everything in their power to legally and ethically become rich. The ones who do name call are impotent and frustrated yet they desire exactly what they choose to insult. Me, I choose to open my mind, be mentored, follow my goals and dreams. Great article and discussion, voted up and interesting.

    • Cassandra Goduti profile image

      Cassandra Goduti 5 years ago from Guilford, Connecticut

      This article kind of touches on my article I published yesterday, Gossip Girl's Despicable B and the Buffett Rule. The main characters in Gossip Girl are snobs and Serena and her mother and the use that to their advantage even when it hurts others. They care too much about money.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Idratherbe: Right on, I totally concur. I have the utmost respect for those who are self-made. Those are the rich that I am talking about. The rich who inherited monies are usually not as aggressive or ambitious. They live in their own world and are so dependent upon mom and dad; I classify them to be poor. If their parents did not give them monies, some of them would be at a total loss as to what they should do in their lives.

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      idratherbe 5 years ago

      @Cassandra, I've found the "Rich Snobs" to be the ones born with a silver spoon. Most of the rich who worked and got ahead on their own are down to earth. And more importantly know what it was like when they were poorer. They also donate to help people, not to donate looking for a tax break!

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Cassandra, you have presented an intelligent, alternative viewpoint. Great, let us add to the discussion!

    • Cassandra Goduti profile image

      Cassandra Goduti 5 years ago from Guilford, Connecticut

      Success has a different meaning to everyone. There are people in our society who are rich snobs, who want the middle class to be poor because they want to hoard all the money, and there are rich people in our society who believe they should pay their fair share and everyone deserves a chance to be something more. Most of the reason why we have this problem at all is because many of the rich snobs are too greedy, and believe they are entitled to make more money than what they are really worth. With the rising costs in utilities the worker bees believe that they deserve more money than have to live week to week. Then you have the rich snobs who are running these companies who don't want to see their employees get more money, they just want more money. Of course the rich snobs don't understand that the people who are happiest just need to be comfortable and know that money does not buy happiness.

    • Melissa A Smith profile image

      Melissa A Smith 5 years ago from New York

      The thing is, I've never denied anything you are saying about money, that's why everyone wants it, and that's why I want it. You are trying to undermine my arguments by suggesting I'm jealous and poor as your retort. I wouldn't mind if any of that was true, it doesn't detract from my argument.

      You are also ignoring my fundamental points: not everyone can be rich. If everyone had your attitude, guess what, 99 percent of the population would STILL be less than affluent because attitude can only get you so far.

      You are arrogantly suggesting that everyone who is less than affluent chose to be so, unsurprisingly, since you also think your opinion is fact in other people's relationships. I'm not sure what you hope to achieve with these hubs and your asinine attitude, you are only upsetting and annoying people for superficial reasons. You don't even have a shard of respect for people who maybe just don't care about the things you honor here. Maybe one day you or someone you care about will be a victim of the anti-ethical mindset you glorify.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Oh Melissa, the mindset,"a person might think that a rich person are either materialistic or elitist....because they are" is typical of the nonachieving or low achieving, envious poor person who is on the outside looking in.

      There is nothing wrong with being affluent, rich, and/or successful. Money is the name of the game in this society, especially in this postmodern, computerized society. Affluent people eat better, have better health care, and live in safer, better neighborhoods. They also send their children to better schools. They can travel to places that many people can only DREAM of.

      Being affluent and/or rich can afford one massive financial freedom. Being affluent is the difference between fretting when one is laid off and/or fired, having to take ANY job, no matter how odious just to live from day to day and relaxing and chilling until you find a job that you like.

      Affluent people do not have to incessantly worry about making ends meet. Melissa, let us get real here-being affluent and/or rich is indeed glorious and so is being successful. If you want to thrive in this postmodern economy, you'd better change your mindset! If you elect not to do so, you will be one of the millions who will just economically survive, instead of thriving at full economic max!

    • Melissa A Smith profile image

      Melissa A Smith 5 years ago from New York

      Your definition of 'negative' is different from mine. I think undermining people for not having an affluent life is 'negative' and sad. Successful people need their heads as stepping stones do they not? And you're going to label their lives as 'less better' and criticize their acceptance of it? You don't need to be hugely successful to pretty much secure your house and way of living, and obviously everyone strives for this.

      Maybe you need to realize that a person might think a rich person is a materialist or elitist...because they are. That's not to say that many people with low means aren't, and they probably attack rich people because obviously, they want it, but people who are successful have less of an excuse to be interested in substantial matters.

      Maybe you're also confusing negativity with 'honesty' and being a realist. I see this happen on a daily basis with people who can't, or won't, identify with other people's situations. Say, that's yet another reason why I'm weary of 'successful' people, and people in general. Your hub illustrates that very well.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      To Melissa, First of all, thank you for your comments. American society does applaud success but only in modicum amounts. However, if a person is highly successful, he/she is often derided as a materialist, snob, and an elitist. Yes, affluent and wealthy people are somewhat deified in this society yet this praise can be quite damning to say the least. In other words, the praise given is often a backhanded praise. Oh, see how highly successful so-and-so is, remarking that who does he/she think he/she is for he/she is no better than anybody else.

      Furthermore, many people want to be successful but they have a negative mindset which prevents them from being successful. I have observed this many times. They want to be successful but cannot and/or refuse to implement the steps essential to achieve that success. They may associate with negative friends and are afraid to achieve because they will lost their friends. To paraphrase this, people want to go to heaven but they do not want to die.

      There are still other people who are quite fearful of success because by being successful, they will be in unfamiliar territory so to speak, away from their milieu, family, and friends. Many successful people acquire different friendships and associations because their former friendships and associations were clearly not condusive to their success.

      Yes, there are subconscious negative perceptions towards socioeconomic success which many people are loathe to acknowledge. Money and success are the name of the game especially in this postindustrial society. Affluent and wealthy people have the dibs on life while the less affluent are falling behind and through the cracks!

    • Melissa A Smith profile image

      Melissa A Smith 5 years ago from New York

      The last time I checked, everyone wants money (I'm one of them). People glorify people with money, look up to them, respect them, and treat people with less money as less of a person (I'm not one of these). So I don't know what you're talking about. You're dreaming if you think that some subconscious social contract is what's keeping most people from achieving high success. NOT EVERYONE CAN BE THAT SUCCESSFUL. That's kind of the point. Many people, in order to get that far, have to step on some heads and conduct unethical business. Maybe that's why a few smart people are weary of 'successful' people or the mindset that this is the ultimate importance, because we're more concerned about the broad impact of the population other than someone's frivolous temporary life. I'm definitely not a person who agrees with "money can't buy happiness" because it simply isn't true in most cases. But to act like many happy, 'successful' people aren't cruel and/or indifferent to the needs of others is naïve at best.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      To idratherbe: Thank you for your comments. Many poor and middle class people have a negative mindset regarding the concept of money. They portend that although money is necessary for survival, it is an inherent evil that is best tolerated. Such ideas are not condusive to achieve a high success level. Thank you for stopping by and starting the discussion!

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      idratherbe 5 years ago

      I'll agree with your title, "some folks", not all poor or middle class folks feel this way. Interesting hub.