A Note on Cultural Etiquette

Regarding this issue

— at least for the denizens of my own social circle, which is heavily dominated by people who went to Harvard and comparably prestigious schools —

— society has reached a new level of countersignaling.

You do not, not, not want to play conversational games in which you try to conceal where you went to college.  Saying “oh, I went to school in Boston,” or some similar thing, outs you as a pretentious dick; it signals (a) that you expect everyone around you to be awed by your Super Classy Degree, and (b) that you’re probably itching to have the conversation where it gets slowly drawn out of you and becomes a Big Deal and everyone has to pay attention.

The actual correct move at this juncture is to be totally straightforward about your education, to treat it as though it’s absolutely standard and uninteresting, and to say blandly polite/complimentary things about other people’s less-classy degrees if they push the issue by being overtly impressed.

[You are trying to communicate an affect of “oh, didn’t everyone go to Harvard?” mixed with “I am so enlightened and egalitarian that I see no meaningful difference between Harvard and your shitty school.”]


In case it wasn’t clear: this is just as artificial and status-grubbing and peacock-y as the previous tactic.  It will simply work better, because it is closer to being ahead of the fashion curve.

A Note on Cultural Etiquette

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