Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How Thick is Your Bubble?

I know that many of our readers are concerned about whether they're out of touch with middle America, so here's a quiz to help you assess your engagement with the mainstream culture.

How Thick Is Your Bubble?

My results: On a scale from 0 to 20 points, where 20 signifies full engagement with mainstream American culture and 0 signifies deep cultural isolation within the new upper class bubble, you scored between 5 and 8.  In other words, you can see through your bubble, but you need to get out more.


1,2. I haven't worked on a factory floor, but when I was eighteen I took a year off between finishing school and going to college and did bindery work at a printing press. I was often on my feet all day, and I did ache at the end of the day from some of the repetitive motions. I also once caught my finger in the saddle stitcher, which was the machine that stapled envelopes into booklets. My fingernail grew back but I still have a small scar on the middle finger of my right hand. Every day at that job I would think, "This is why I'm going to college -- so I don't have to do this for the rest of my life."

6. I know some evangelical Christians fairly well, but most of my acquaintance are orthodox Catholics, which is a smaller sub-culture.

8. I am not a particularly political person. Like my parents before me I vote straight pro-life, and count on Darwin to keep me abreast of the developments of the day. Taking Facebook as an indicator, most of my friends, regardless of economic, educational, or social differences, have the same concern.

I know that I have deep political differences with aunts, uncles, and cousins (many of whom perhaps are the demographic for which this quiz was written), but I'm not especially close to any of them and I avoid those discussions. None of them have to ask about my political opinions; the number of children I have does the talking for me. Taking Facebook as an indicator, most of my friends, regardless of economic, educational, or social differences, have the same concern.

9. I have eaten at Applebee's in the past year, but frankly, I'd rather eat hot dogs at home than Applebee's food.

10. Neither Darwin or I have ever bought a pickup truck, but we've never needed one either.

11. Not only have I never attended a Kiwanis or Rotary meeting, I don't even know what they do. I don't know anyone who knows what they do. What do they do?

15. Of course I've never watched Oprah all the way through. Egad.

20. I don't know anyone who smokes, except some people who go to New Orleans.

h/t Siris


Julia said...

I got "between 9 and 12" but I think it's because a) I live in a very liberal city and if I didn't have close friends with different viewpoints I wouldn't have any friends at all, and b) I've eaten in an Applebees ONCE and it happened to be in the past year.

Jenny said...

I got "between 9 and 12" too.

My brother is the dyed in the wool liberal, so we argue politics. I say he is a hard-core liberal but mostly he has just bought the "liberals are nice, conservatives are mean" line and can't articulate much more than that.

I live in Nashville so for me to not have evangelical friends would mean that I have never left my house. Ever.

I think I have eaten at Friday's in the past year. I agree about hot dogs at home rather than Applebee's. When we occasionally go out to eat, the children are NOT ALLOWED to pick Applebee's.

Sadly, my mother watched Oprah most everyday, so I did too. :(

BettyDuffy said...

I got between 9 and 12 too. I own a pick-up, I willingly hung out with smokers (ahem), most of my family is evangelical, I worked at Cracker Barrel, and at a fried chicken joint where I had to wear a corset (though not in the past year), Applebees gift cards are a regular part of Christmas, and my family hunts and fishes.


I have no idea who that nascar guy was.

MrsDarwin said...

I didn't know the Nascar guy, I didn't see that Transformers movie (or any Transformers movie, though I did watch the Transformer cartoons back in the day while waiting at school for the bus. Also, we watched Voltron. Ah, the eighties...). I haven't worked a job with a uniform since graduating because I've barely worked since graduating. Darwin likes to go shooting, but my family never did.

My dad had asthma and let us know in no uncertain terms his opinion of cigarettes. As a result, I've never had any desire to smoke. Tried it once, ended up coughing and rasping for three days. Ugh.

Jenny said...

I thought the Nascar guy might be Tony Stewart but then I thought that he was the Home Depot guy and not the Lowes guy.

We actually have possession of a pickup truck, but we did not buy it. It is pretty useful since we bring our own garbage to the dump. When I say we, I mean he. :)

MrsDarwin said...

Jenny, when I was young my family lived out in the Virginia countryside and we had to haul garbage to the dump. We had a twelve-seater van at the time, so my dad would take out the back seats and load up the bags and select a lucky person to go with him. It was a treat to ride out to the big dumpsters alongside the highway on a gorgeous Saturday, just you and Dad.

Jenny said...

When my children are old enough to ride in the truck, I hope they enjoy their trips to the dump with Daddy. I, for one, am content to stay behind and hope he doesn't come home with a "treasure." :D

mandamum said...

Rotary - I atttended as "Rotary student of the Month" with my school principal, which may not be what they had in mind :) They are one of those Community Improvement and Networking organizations, and ours met for lunch weekly. Every month a high school student would go with the principal (for why? To encourage them to be upstanding citizens when they grew up??), and the returned Rotary Exchange Students would go as well (to remind the members how much they appreciated the exchange)....

Funny--thinking about people living around me with college degrees: Our last home, we were in an apartment complex surrounded by Indian and Chinese families, living in the mid-Atlantic US, but feeling like outsiders with our American clothing and language.... But all those people certainly had at least one highly educated breadwinner working in the national lab across the street. I can't say that apartment complex exactly made me feel like I was "living with people like me" but neither did it break me out of my bubble since I could barely talk to the other families on the playground, especially since they usually just nodded and turned away.

JMB said...

I scored 9 to 12 too, but I think it was mostly because I wore a uniform after I graduated from college (I worked as a front desk clerk in a 5 star hotel in NYC where I had to speak French!) and I lived in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Hoboken, NJ for 10 years of my life. I've taken a Greyhound bus to Boston to visit high school friends and I've eaten at Applebees in the past year.

Jennifer Fitz said...

I missed points for hunting and fishing, since I just cook it, don't actually go out and kill the stuff myself.

Also, I have no idea whether my neighbors went to college. A couple I know did (a pastor and some teachers), but people don't exactly report in. Ditto with my friend's grades.

I did actually build a computer on a factory floor as part of my job, but I didn't count it since I was the accountant just there to do it once to see how it all worked. But surely a summer at McDonald's counts for something?

Dorian Speed said...

I scored 9 to 12. I thought I'd do better, because I worked as a janitorial assistant in a ball bearing retainer factory, but then they got to the NASCAR part. I also didn't think I could honestly answer "yes" to the question about stocking my fridge with domestic beer because I only buy it to use in making pizza crust. Which is probably one of the more pretentious reasons people buy beer.

I thought of New Orleans for the smoking question, too!

I'd estimate at least 40% of my friends are in serious disagreement with my political and/or religious beliefs.

Foxfier said...

I got 14, mostly due to lack of opportunity-- I haven't been to ANY movie since our eldest was born, and we can't afford to buy a vehicle yet, especially not one as expensive as a four-door pickup. (Thank you, Washington State for basically outlawing children under 13 in normal pickups.) Also, I've never lived anyplace where there was an option to work in a factory. On the other hand, since I was in the Navy I got the uniform, parade, smoker and opposed political view ones for free.

Lauren said...

Ouch, 3 out of 20, but I live almost inside the DC Beltway (one mile). So that's my excuse. I have lots of friends of opposite politics, b/c everyone here is liberal. I'm everyone's token conservative friend. My back and shoulders always hurt at the end of the day, but that's not exactly b/c I'm doing heavy construction. And I have seen Oprah. (Oh the same!) I did know a fair number of evangelicals in high school in TX, but up here we've got pretty much everyone else. Of my acquaintance it's mostly the Godless, followed by Catholics, a few mainliners, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, and a couple Mormons

The Sojourner said...

Jimmie Johnson.

I don't think very many of those things are representative of mainstream American culture, myself. I do know plenty of people (mostly in the rural Midwest) who drive pickups, drink American beer, and watch NASCAR. (Almost no one who smokes, though. I think it might be going out of style.)

(Side note: My dad watches NASCAR but also has a Master's degree. And he doesn't drink American beer because he got spoiled by his 3 1/2 years in Germany--which he spent there because he joined the Army at 17 so he could afford to go to college.)

I'm willing to bet the person who wrote that quiz did it from inside a very thick bubble of their own. Just because you can see out doesn't mean there's any osmosis going on.

The Sojourner said...

*I do know plenty of people who fit the quiz's definition of "mainstream", but not enough for me to think they're actually mainstream.

MrsDarwin said...

"I'm willing to bet the person who wrote that quiz did it from inside a very thick bubble of their own. Just because you can see out doesn't mean there's any osmosis going on. "

Very astute, Sojourner. The odd focus on stereotypical "low-brow" pursuits seemed an indicator that the author himself doesn't know a lot of people who live in middle America. Or perhaps people are a lot more interesting and diverse than quizmakers give them credit for being.

Foxfier said...

Isn't there an old joke about how nobody is average? Sometimes rephrased as shock when someone is of average height, average weight, medium brown hair, tan skin and hazel eyes.....

Other than the "different from you" aspects, a lot of the questions seem to be aimed at the big number of folks do it things not tied specifically to cities.

Jenny said...

Congrats, MrsDarwin, on generating a long comment thread not involving Topic A! :)

Kate said...

I think the survey does touch on a lot of things that have HUGE mass market appeal - things that, by their popularity, obviously resonate with a majority of middle america - but not the slice I hang out with. I found the video at the end interesting.

Joseph M said...

Sojourner - very astute. Who not inside the bubble would ever have thought to even put together such a quiz?

9-12, but only that low because I went highbrow on a couple questions that could have gone either way.

(granting the bubble exists and means anything:) Here's a difference that has killed me forever: If you imagine that just because you're a college-educated city dweller, you are by that fact alone smarter than other people, THAT is a sign you need to get out more.

In my 9 sibling family of origin, which was formed by an Oklahoma farm boy marrying a Texas granddaughter of Czech immigrants, we have sons and daughters with multiple advanced degrees - and sons and daughters who dropped out of high school and work at skilled labor type jobs. As far as I can tell, the different outcomes has nothing to do with the native intelligence of the sibling. I've worked on sheet metal shop floors with men who were far more intelligent than some of the degreed managers I've worked for in offices.

Part of the brainwashing of modern schooling is that its products are way smarter than 'them', whether they are auto mechanics or ancients Greeks - we degree holders are just smarter.

What a load.

Donald R. McClarey said...

13-16: no bubble. One advantage of spending my life in rural Central Illinois is that the rich, poor and middle class are often jumbled together geographically and you get to know quite a few people of all classes fairly well. Family relationships often cross class divides, at least for long time residents. School and church activities are often the central social occasions and those draw people of all classes together.

In regard to Rotary, I have been a member for 27 years and five times President of my local club. Rotary is a world wide organization of business and professional men and women, who meet weekly for lunch in local clubs, hear a speaker and conduct philanthropic projects. One of our current projects is Polio Plus to wipe out polio globally.

Foxfier said...

Rotary is awesome-- looking back, it's incredibly good for the average kid because almost anything you do with them, you have to effectively communicate to adults that aren't your parents. (In contrast, our local Elks club just provided everything to the volunteer adults and kids were just manpower.)

What might improve the quiz? Maybe things like a list of types of music you've heard, types of stage shows, etc? Opera, Country, Western, Pop, Oldies, Do-Whop, Metal (hair, death or ballads?), Rap... look for broadness of interaction, instead of hitting the high notes?