People build their own identities from their group memberships. For example, think of each of the groups you belong to: say at work, or within your family. Part of who you are is probably defined by these groups. Putting it the other way around: the nature of your group memberships define your identity.
As our group membership forms our identity, it is only natural for us to want to be part of groups that are both high status and have a positive image. Crucially though, high status groups only have that high status when compared to other groups. In other words: knowing your group is superior requires having a worse group to look down upon.
“Human experimentation — that is, subjecting live human beings to science experiments that are sometimes cruel, sometimes painful, sometimes deadly and always a risk — is a major part of U.S. history that you won’t find in most history or science books. The United States is undoubtedly responsible for some of the most amazing scientific breakthroughs. These advancements, especially in the field of medicine, have changed the lives of billions of people around the world — sometimes for the better, as in the case of finding a cure for malaria and other epidemic diseases, and sometimes for the worse (consider modern “psychiatry” and the drugging of schoolchildren).”—The true U.S. history of human medical experimentation
“Students at the University of California, San Diego, held an off-campus “Compton Cookout” Feb. 15 to mock Black History Month, with guests invited to don gold teeth in the style of rappers from the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, eat watermelon, and dress in baggy athletic wear.”—California Campus Sees Uneasy Race Relations
“I have this (probably overly romanticized) vision of what blogging and online journalling used to be. In real time it wasn’t that long ago, maybe five or six years ago, but it seems like lifetimes. It was before Movable Type, before BlogSpot, before all the LJ clones, before MySpace and Friendster and Xanga, before web hosts were offering specific packages for webloggers, before template sites, before one could even fathom getting a book deal off of this shit, and before the actual word “blog” was ever muttered on TV and we were all just a bunch of losers writing diaries for strangers to read. There were always online crazies and trolls, but I feel like before blogging was the thing to do, the journals/blogs as a whole used to be more honest, more real, and definitely more personal.”—Single Spaced, “The Golden Age of Blogging”
“Oh, yeah, I did the online dating thing," Julie said, laughing. "I did Nerve, I did Match. On Nerve there was this one guy who, when I asked him what he did for a living, said he ‘used to be in a band.’ I was like, ‘that is not an occupation.’" Julie continued, "It is soul crushing; there’s no question about it. But life, as I say in the high school chapter, is all about the sense of humor you have while it’s happening to you.”—Julie Klausner Doesn’t Care About Your Band
“He owns eleven pairs of sneakers, hasn’t worn anything but jeans in a year, and won’t shut up about the latest Death Cab for Cutie CD. But he is no kid. He is among the ascendant breed of grown-up who has redefined adulthood as we once knew it and killed off the generation gap.”—Up With Grups (2006)
“The Nine Nations of North America is a book written in 1981 by Joel Garreau. In it, Garreau suggests that North America can be divided into nine regions, or “nations”, which have distinctive economic and cultural features. He also argues that conventional national and state borders are largely artificial and irrelevant, and that his “nations” provide a more accurate way of understanding the true nature of North American society. Paul Meartz of Mayville State University called it “a classic text on the current regionalization of North America”.”—Nine Nations of North America
“In just three years, the blogging site Tumblr has amassed a devoted following, collecting more than 3 million users and spawning countless memes (Selleck Waterfall Sandwich!). On Friday 19, Housing Works will host “Tumblr Reads: Internet Writers IRL,” a reading of blog excerpts, stories and more with some of event organizer Meaghan O’Connell’s favorite Tumblr writers. Ten of the readers offer some thoughts on the site.”—Tumblr Reads Internet Writers
“It has been nearly four years since Roger Ebert lost his lower jaw and his ability to speak. Now television’s most famous movie critic is rarely seen and never heard, but his words have never stopped.”—Roger Ebert profile in Esquire
“Instead of condemning cosmetic or trans surgeries, straightened hair, hijab or high heels as “unnatural,” we would be better served as feminist theorists of culture to ask: Which kinds of bodily practices are normalized as “appropriate” to feminine persons, and to masculine persons, and how? What values (of race, nation, gender, economic status) do these practices normalize? What ideologies are embedded in these often-literal inscriptions upon differentiated bodies? How have these discourses and practices changed in historically and culturally specific ways?”—Gender/Queer: Dressed to Kill, Fight to Win
“Everyone knows that film and television scripts are collaborative efforts and that politicians hire speech writers. Why, then, are we so wedded to the romantic illusion of authors as poor, tortured, hungry souls, labouring in unheated garrets until the day they are discovered and rewarded with fairy-tale fortunes of Rowlingesque proportions? At least half the titles in the best-selling non-fiction charts are penned by ghostwriters, and at least a quarter more are edited so heavily that they might as well be.”—About ghostwriters
“But how to woo your soul mate, especially if you’re shy or new to dating? That’s where love consultants—real-life “date doctors” like Will Smith’s Hitch—come in. China’s busy, wealthy singles have begun to seek out advisers like Xia to guide them from the first date all the way, potentially, to the proposal. The consultants arrange dates. They help you update your wardrobe. They play the BFF. They even talk to your significant other (or his or her love consultant) after you’ve had a spat.”—China’s date doctors to the rescue.
“The majority of writers I know have a complicated mosaic of various jobs, juggling writing, teaching, freelancing, family. It is difficult, and it is a necessity, and most of us who keep doing it can’t imagine doing anything else. When I asked Jacob about the even greater financial difficulty of being a short story writer, he said: “The people who love short fiction, I believe, are writing already, even without financial incentives.” I believe the same can be said for most novelists out there. Will some of the magic leave the author profile when it goes something like this: student, short-order cook at McDonald’s, lawyer, novelist, teacher, short-order cook at McDonald’s”—The Writer Career Arc
“Just because we don’t sleep with our close friends—well, not always—doesn’t mean we can’t get jealous about the company they keep. Unlike lovers, however, friends have no socially legitimized claim over each other’s social life. Maybe that’s why watching one friend steal another away can be such an unsettling experience, especially when the two of them become closer than the two of you ever were. Not only do you feel hurt and rejected, you’re ashamed and embarrassed that you care. Even worse, you worry that the two of them will get together and discuss your personal life in snickering tones. (It’s safe to assume that they will.)”—How to steal friends and influence people. (2005)
“Exactly when did Aaron start writing his fanzine? “I started doing Cometbus in late 1981 and have continued it on and off since. I was very young at the time and also a KALX volunteer…It sort of grew from being a fanzine about bands into being a fanzine about the way we live and more about the stories behind the songs and behind the bands and it sort of ran from there and it’s changed over the years.” In many ways writing became his own self-schooling while simultaneously attending King Junior High and Berkeley High. “I did it [wrote] all the time. And that was my school pretty much.”—Interview with Aaron Cometbus (2009)
“Here I met freshmen who had taken the SATs more than twice, who spoke three Asian languages, who began drinking coffee in middle school. “Things are different on the East Coast,” I told my mother on a cellphone from the campus Starbucks, where I was conspicuously reading the New Yorker and hoping to make friends. The kids of the East Coast intellectual guard had a whole culture of rituals and objectives by which to define themselves: anticipation of the LSATs, the New Criterion, cocaine.”—Molly Young, "Kickstart My Heart."
“Too often, she discovered, no matter their geographical location, girls are silenced. “It’s one universal story with different manifestations, depending on the class, the culture, the community, the religion: how does the culture in any given place, mutate, censor, undermine, diminish and eradicate girls, and the power of girls?” observes Ensler. “And that can be getting a girl to believe that she has to be the size of a pencil,” so that she devotes all her energy to “losing weight and disappearing. Or it can be a girl sold into marriage with an old man in a culture where people cut off girls’ clitorises. Or she can be used to blow herself up in the front line of a fundamentalist war. In all of it she is basically fodder.”—Vagina Monologues Author Begins Her Quest For a “Girl Revolution”
“Somehow it isn’t enough that I am 27 and live with my parents again. I also slept-in while my dad did the driveway. Suddenly my shame about not plowing for my dad (and etc.) triggered a penitent impulse in me to wash the pile of dishes in the sink. It was the least I could do. Living at home means synching rhythms. Sort of? Living at home means being a team player.”—GQ’s Home Boy blog
“The writer’s apprenticeship — or perhaps, the writer’s lot — is this miserable trifecta: uncertainty, rejection, disappointment. In the 20 years that I’ve been publishing books, I have fared better than most. I sold my first novel while still in graduate school and published six more books, pretty much one every three years, like clockwork. I have made my living as a writer, living off my advances while supplementing my income by teaching and writing for newspapers and magazines….”—A writing career becomes harder to scale