Am I newly elite?

Charles Murray thinks there’s a new elite, out of touch with “ordinary Americans”. Claire Berlinski makes it a quiz. Other elitists say it’s worth spreading. I concur. So – how much of a new elitist am I?

  1. Can you talk about “Mad Men?” At length (Elitist)
  2. Can you talk about the “The Sopranos?” Not even kinda (Regular)
  3. Do you know who replaced Bob Barker on “The Price Is Right?” Yeah, apparently (I checked if I was right.) (Regular)
  4. Have you watched an Oprah show from beginning to end? No. (Elitist)
  5. Can you hold forth animatedly about yoga? Not really, but I can get really into how it’s co-opting a spiritual tradition that it has completely divorced itself from in the U.S. (We’ll call that “Elitist”)
  6. How about pilates? No idea. (Regular)
  7. How about skiing? I’ve been, once, but no. (Regular)
  8. Mountain biking? I’ve never actually biked on a mountain (Regular)
  9. Do you know who Jimmie Johnson is? No. (Elitist)
  10. Does the acronym MMA mean nothing to you? I know what MMA is. (Regular)
  11. Can you talk about books endlessly? Yes, but not necessarily informedly (Elitist)
  12. Have you ever read a “Left Behind” novel? No, but I’m not an evangelical Christian, so it doesn’t really appeal. Seems like an unfair metric (Elitist)
  13. How about a Harlequin romance? Does more male-targeted smut count? I think it should (Regular)
  14. Do you take interesting vacations? Yes. (Elitist)
  15. Do you know a great backpacking spot in the Sierra Nevada? I don’t even know a great backpacking spot locally. (Regular)
  16. What about an exquisite B&B overlooking Boothbay Harbor? I don’t know any great B&Bs. I know great places for brunch, though. (Regular)
  17. Would you be caught dead in an RV? I loved RV trips. It’s getting harder to rent them, though. (Elitist)
  18. Would you be caught dead on a cruise ship? Im going on a cruise and have been on a cruise, and haven’t paid for either (Regular)
  19. Have you ever heard of of Branson, Mo? I know of it – is there particular significance? (Regular)
  20. Have you ever attended a meeting of a Kiwanis Club? No (Elitist)
  21. How about the Rotary Club? No, though my scout troop was sponsored by a chapter. (Elitist)
  22. Have you lived for at least a year in a small town (not counting college)? I lived for a couple years as a pseudo-townie-cum-grad student in my college town. I think it counts. (Regular)
  23. Have you lived for a year in an urban neighborhood in which most of your neighbors did not have college degrees? Doubt it. (Elitist)
  24. Have you spent at least a year with a family income less than twice the poverty line (not including grad school)? No. (Elitist)
  25. Do you have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian? Yes. Why do Christians get a pass on elitism – “Left Behind” and now this. (Regular)
  26. Have you ever visited a factory floor? I feel like I have, but the fact that I can’t tell you which means “no”. (Elitist)
  27. Have you worked on one? No. (Elitist)

By this metric, my elitist yin and my regular joe yang are carefully balanced, leaning a bare minimum towards elite.

In seriousness, it’s fun to poke fun and banal and vacuous social analysis (for instance, Murray’s article ignores the definitional question of “mainstream America”) but seriously, the description the above quiz is based on is like a parody. I know many people who should in theory be members of this reviled “elite”, but I’m guessing I don’t know more than one person who would break a 75% on the above quiz, and they would all break different ways. We’re all connected some way. Creating the elitist strawman and then pointing at him screaming “AHH! It exists!” doesn’t actually tell us the truth about anything.