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Beauty & Soul

Social Media And Spiritual Death Rabbit Hole

Lately I’ve been exploring mindfulness for self-discovery and stuffs. It’s proving to be very enlightening. It forces you to take a long hard look at the things that are good for you and the things that are not so good for you. Every now and again I go down this very specific existential rabbit hole involving social media. Mindfullness has only increased it’s depth. In a very Carrie Bradshaw way – I  got to thinking, how much of me is filtered through my social media? And in the need to create a certain perception of myself, is my own dissatisfaction with certain aspects of myself,  manifested within the image I present? Or is my Dissatisfaction with myself, a result of the image I think I should be presenting? Yep, It’s the Rabbit hole. It’s undeniable that social media has a massive affect on how we interact with ourselves and the people around us. We are spoon fed certain reactions and responses almost subliminally.

I think part of the bullshit is that we’ve incorporated the mediatic image and the influence of the façade that is social media so much, that we’ve actually started defining that space as utopian to the extent that our real lives are becoming that much more dystopian. It’s fucked up. It’s fucked up because it means that if we feel like we’re not achieving something worthy of validation from our peers, then we’re somehow failing at life altogether. That’s flat out capitalist propaganda bullshit, made to make you buy shit you don’t need to fill up the void they’ve created. It also helps corporations line their own pockets. This success is almost exclusively materialistic. It’s even more insidious because this is not a physical landscape we’ve created – it’s imagined and yet still highly emotional place that now has roots in our actual being. It holds up an Alice through the looking glass mirror, for us to gaze upon the idealised versions of ourselves that we’ve created. This reflection has the capability to become a space of rampant self-loathing that translates into a broader example of the blatant motives behind commodity culture. It’s not an authentic or truthful representation of who we are at all – because if we loved ourselves, we wouldn’t need to buy shit to help us with that. It means that we’ll always be fed little faux truths that what we need to make it become a reality. We’re told we’re fucked and then given a solution to the fuckery by the very same people.

in the end of history and the last man, Fukuyama theorized that the fall of the berlin wall, ultimately led to the ‘end of history’ with capitalism emerging triumphant. Within the theory, he expands on Plato’s concept of the thymos which describes the area of the soul where feelings of pride and shame are located. Fukuyama suggested that isothymia is the desire to be viewed as equal to other people, whilst megalothymia is the desire to be recognised as superior to other people – or at least a striving to be exceptional. Essentially, the two are the main type of human physiological drives for success. Fukuyama argued ‘that liberal democracy is successful at purging megalothymia from life and substituting for it rational consumption’. If we then look at media, we might understand and consider that we’re all just functioning as the epitome of ‘last men’ struggling with the desires of our Thymos. The heterotopia of our own lacking middle/working class lives, does not and cannot stimulate the urges of our Thymos in an adequate enough way. We remain within a cycle that negates our freedom. Though we want to break free from our circumstances, we want to do so with a social media fuelled capitalist drive and value system that is inherently flawed. Think about it – ten years ago, we wanted to have pancake arses and foundation lips – this was seen as the epitome of beauty standards. If we fast-forward to now, we want bubble butts and kylie Jenner lips. Both of these groups at one point or another is winning or loosing. This consequently means that nothing we achieve or do within this system can ever provide us with any sense of freedom – not even the affirmation that all bodies and faces are beautiful. That answer does not have any currency, Essentially, we are trapped in a kind of karmic wheel. Doing what we want becomes inherently interlinked with the laws of our conditioning – we (including myself) don’t want to ‘get our lips done’ or do ’300 squats’ SOLELY for ourselves. We want to be better than what we perceive we are, and those are the means we have been given. We want to do so at least because the law of society and social media consequently has become like a bondage that dictates our self worth.  This emphasises the fact that social media ‘is paradoxically both the problem and the medium through which to reconstruct social class, it is the unsubstantial bottomless realm of cultural collective fantasy’ (Jameson, 1979. Pg, 22). Its sad – because we remain driven by this consumerist culture which means that however much we seek to find a greater meaning through acquisition and through the satisfaction of our appearance to others, there is no greater meaning within this mode of existence.

What’s worse is, for us women – patriarchy has trapped us in this sphere to such an extent, that we have almost lost perspective or access to the world beyond the confines of the beauty standards that social media has defined. Patriarchy at least dictates other more stimulating avenues of success for men.  Even in the 21st century, there’s still a direct traditional patriarchal route of success for women. Like, of course, we influencers that are successful – this success is married to our inevitable confinement within a face-tuned filtered space. We’re still presented with a model of patriarchal femininity that does not belong to us. The fact that Kim Kardashian or Kylie Jenner are insistent on emphasising material markers of her own achievement (an example being a collection of hermes bags or Versace shoes) speak of how our megalothymic desires have to be defined. Moreover, the pre-occupation with a specifically capitalist route to success, demonstrates the various extra restrictions that this world has on us because we are women.

Trauma theory ‘has attempted to demonstrate how psychological and social fragmentation occurs and iterates in processes of acting out’ (Gournelos, 2009. Pg, 510). I interpret this within the homogenising setting of social media, as this would essentially mean that we are loosing our ability to fully recognise ourselves existing outside of an Instagram confine. Going hand in hand with this as I’ve stated, is the fact that we cannot fully exist within it either. This can be seen through the various ways our interpretations of ‘beauty’ has changed over the past 10 years. I like to think of this in a similar way to the representation of the inherently fatal – what he describes as ‘God looking at him’ are the direct consequences of capitalism. His camera catches the woman who died of hypothermia, the dead bird and the sadness of the girl next door. It is so intrinsically profound that it elicits the greatest forms of meaning throughout the film. But rather that eliciting a transcending source of meaning, it demonstrates how the landscape has in fact been left devoid of meaning due to hyper commodification. This has occurred to such an extent that the suburb (think of it as social media in this concept) is left with no redeeming qualities which manifests in the iconic plastic bag scene. The plastic bag becomes a metaphor of the consequences of hyper materialism – loneliness, isolation and eventual spiritual death.

I don’t want to be too pessimistic and gloomy . I honestly believe that if we become mindful in ourselves and work on our real life presence and present – we can create a distance between the person we create online and dictate it’s meaning for us in real life. Rebelling against the standards we are presented with, we become able to blur the boundaries. Counter-culture is something I believe really helps with this. Pride in what we are – not what we think we think we should be – is key. As cheesy as it sounds, nourishing the people we are internally and remaining truthful to our own ethnicity filters out the bullshit. I don’t have to ignore cellulite or stretchmarks. I don’t need their existence validated. I can accept them – if I can’t embrace them – and then I don’t need anyone else’s. Another persons success or failures do not affect me or my own internal self.

That was the rabbit hole.

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The Problem With Modern Love.

 

 

**Feminist Killjoy here – There’s probably a load of typos and grammar shit wrong with this. I apologise, someone will fix it soon.  I will always love Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging, but i can’t help my woke eyes seeing what’s obvious.

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‘and so the lion was a predatory 120 year old pedo weirdo who manipulated and engaged in a weird AF abusive relationship with a 17 year old girl’

   I got to thinking about all of the films I obsessed over when i was a tween and teenager, and I couldn’t help but realise how fucked up they actually are. I recognise now how problematic these films were in shaping my ideals of relationships. We consume images of toxic relationships that shape our subconscious and make us think that it’s actually what we want – what we need even. We are taught to expect pain. If we don’t expect pain, how can we ever expect to find true love? Obviously that has to be our sole goal in life, Independence is secondary to this. Subtly, our impressionable young brains learn to accept the unacceptable. Our reactions are an afterthought to the societal expectations of men and our relationships with them. We are literally taught to base our self worth on the way through which men view us. What’s worse is that with the prevalence of the male gaze, we see ourselves as women, through the eyes of men in these narratives.

Through this media, we’re even given rules and precautions to avoid men treating us like shit. We are provided with ways to keep ourselves in the highest of their esteem. Don’t be a prude, but then don’t sleep with him too soon – if you do, you’re not a challenge and he will loose interest. Don’t lead men on or be a tease – if a lad likes you, you have to like him back or you’re a bitch. Don’t be nice with them regardless, because then you’re just leading them on and ‘friend zoning’ them. If a man takes you out, spends time or money on you, you owe it to him to sleep with him otherwise you’re just a cock tease. Don’t be too successful or assertive – this might threaten them. Don’t wear this, or say that because men don’t like that. Men don’t like that
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Heaven forbid a lass actually voices her concerns and points out that these things happening are complete bullshit. If she does, then she’s clearly gone west. She’s basically one stop away from bunny boiler land. She’s a man hating feminist! Worried guys with even more worried expressions ask; “you’re not going to turn crazy are you”? It’s so obvious that the real question they’re asking is: ‘I’m going to treat you like shit but you’re not going to call me out on it are you?”. I often have to stop myself from launching into a detailed breakdown on all the ways that said guy is behaving like a dickhead, but I don’t want to give them the satisfaction of being able to put me into the “crazy” category. This is a problematic thing – Women are so afraid of being branded “psycho” that they refrain from calling these Fuckboys’ out. In actuality these men need to be called out. They need to be told that their shit isn’t tolerable.

Unsurprisingly, there is a deep-rooted and fucked patriarchal notion that women are “crazy’ and thus massively temperamental. The term ‘hysteria’ actually originates from the ancient Greek word ‘hystera’ which stood for Uterus. The word was used to describe the physical feeling of heat and the inability to breathe which was an ailment exclusively linked to being female. Women were thought to be ticking ‘hysterical’ time bombs just waiting to be set off. The crux of this inadequacy was thought to be linked to the fact that women were the ones to be penetrated. If you were the one penetrating you were the ‘conqueror’, if you were the one being penetrated you were the ‘conquered’. It was then believed that the more times a man conquered, the more prestige he afforded himself. Whilst on the flip side, the more times a woman was ‘conquered’ the more her value decreased. Interestingly, for this very reason, when it came to gay male relationships (which were commonly acceptable in ancient Greece) whilst the dominant partner was held in esteem, Greek males who received during anal sex were seen to be feminized and they essentially “made a woman” of themselves and were held in much lower esteem. One thing remains – the worst thing a man could be is like a women.

Literally the rationality and sanity of women was from then on, was destined to revolve around dat D. In the past doctors even tried to masturbate women to induce an orgasm as a legitimate form of medical treatment. Men thought that women literally were going crazy for the D. Even when we dilute this into a less crude form, there’s still this idea that we’re fuelled by male attention – that without it we’ll flounder and then ultimately wither in despair. The archaic rhetoric is still being pumped around society in this lesser form. An example would be Bella Swan. Her complete and utter mental breakdown after Edward left her in the second instalment of the franchise, is the blueprint to how we as women are supposed to react to rejection. No wonder men are so terrified – if women are being taught this then so are they. They’re being taught that they’re at the epicentre of a woman’s existence and if they remove themselves then that woman’s whole world will fall apart.

With this in mind, it’s no wonder they go ghost. It’s not a surprise that they get that squirmy look of discomfort and the resistance when certain topics are raised. It’s so glaringly obvious that it almost becomes humorous. It’s like they go to such great lengths to disguise their true intentions because they think they’re avoiding dealing with the ‘Bella’ consequence. Maybe they think they’re being kind? Maybe they think they think they’re being merciful even? Maybe they subconsciously think their dick is so potent a woman won’t be able to survive without it. Either way, they know that if they can get what they want they can retreat and not have to deal with the ‘consequences’. I once had a conversation with a friend and he said ‘we just know. Like even if a girl says she’s cool, we just know that she’s going to get clingy and it’s best to just leave’. I’m still shocked at the audacity of the assumption. It’s like this refusal to recognise that when a guy starts acting like a shady dickhead, it’s massively frustrating. Lets get things clear – we’re not getting clingy – we’re getting pissed off because you’re being a dickhead.

We’re even taught to respond to this rejection appropriately because apparently -‘men are from Mars and women are from Venus’, something emphasised in ‘Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging’ (ATPS). The main character Georgia explains to her friends, that ‘men are like elastic bands, they have to stretch out until they come bouncing back’. Ten years later this theory can be applied to the phenomenon that is ghosting. If he’s ghosting you, you should just not say anything and hang on to the hope that that elastic band launches that fuckboy back into your DMs. Don’t go chasing him – heaven forbid you double message – that would definitely spook him even further. You have to be patient and give him his space and then he’ll come back. This is because, of course, men can’t handle emotion in the same ways as women can. However shit they’ve been with us, that “fact” is meant to absolve them completely. It’s down to us to do the emotional labour in their place. We’re forced to manipulate the surroundings just to hold on to a mans attention. Otherwise we’re just meant to wait patiently with absolutely no agency over the situation what so ever, waiting till the ghost is ready to haunt us once more. We’re literally being taught that everything in our relationships has to be on the mans terms. But these men are literally trash.

I used to think that Robbie from Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging was the perfect guy. However, If we take off our rose tinted glasses and see him for what he is, we can quickly establish that he is a fucking fuck boy – a F U C K B O Y. He’s actually so much of one it’s almost laughable when you re-watch it. Firstly, he literally kisses Georgia in that swimming pool when he had a GIRLFRIEND. I’m sorry but however shitty the film makes Lindsay out to be, she’s still his girlfriend. After the fact, he fucks off rather quickly, telling Georgia that he has some ‘things to sort out’ and he’ll call her. Does he call her? No he does not. He retreats to the spirit world like any self-respecting fuckboy would, leaving Georgia to stew and do exactly what she’s been taught to do – scheme and manipulate. He then chastises Georgia for using his friend Dave, but lit they are two single people and he’s the one who’s cheated on his girlfriend. What right does he have to be jealous or pissed off? He then has the audacity to tell Georgia that she only thinks of herself! Are you ACTUALLY being serious babe? Of course, it all turns good at the end when he ‘chooses’ Georgia. Naturally he has all the power in this situation. It doesn’t matter how shit he’s been throughout the film – his choice means that Georgia is the winner and ‘Slaggy’ Lindsay is cast aside. These two girls are vying for his approval – the whole narrative rests on this approval. They should have ditched him and realised they were both way too good for him IMO.

I then realise, that I actually feel a lot of sympathy for Slaggy Lindsay. She’s at the centre of a ridiculous amount of slut shaming that’s bred from internalised sexism. The disheartening part is, the majority of it comes from Georgia and her female friends. They need to tear ‘Slaggy Lindsay’ down to make themselves feel like viable candidates for Robbie’s attention. Firstly, Lindsay is labelled ‘slaggy’ which no doubtably comes from her own confidence in her sexuality. She’s then chastised for wearing a thong – perhaps because it demonstrates a jealousy the girls have of her said confidence in her sexuality. Never the less, put that multipack of thongs down ladies, lest you be branded a hoe. She’s referred to as a ‘scrubber’ more times than I can actually count. it’s stressed on more than one occasion that you shouldn’t go ‘too far’ with a guy too soon, or you might as well brand yourself with a Scarlett letter. Heaven forbid you explore your own sexuality what so ever – if you do, you’re a slag and it’s no wonder boys don’t want to date you. You’ve got to be the Madonna or the Whore. When Robbie picks her, that’s the biggest validation she could have got that she’s safe in the Madonna zone and thus girlfriend material. If he hadn’t picked her the film would have ended very differently. The films narrative and the male gaze, meant he had to pick her – the Madonna. Sexually liberated women never get picked because they’re the ‘whores’ after all and the whores always get punished.

Consequentially, subconsciously we always want to be ‘picked’ and so we never stop modifying ourselves for the benefit of men. If Bella Swan taught us anything is that we have to come second. She constantly refers to herself as ‘nothing’ in comparison to her sparkling boyfriend Edward. Playing on the idea that when it’s your one true love, nothing else matters. Even ‘yourself’ becomes secondary. Creepy behaviour like coming in to your house to watch you sleep without your knowledge, explaining how hard it is not to kill you, manipulating you and threatening to leave you ‘for your own good’ (which is actually a key staple of domestic abuse) is NOT romantic. You shouldn’t be so consumed by emotion that it takes away your rationality to identify these things. Your whole being should not be ‘irrevocably and unconditionally’ linked to that other person. No wonder so many young girls make it their mission to get a boyfriend no matter the cost. No wonder they ignore definitive warning signs of abuse. No wonder so many teenage girls ultimately end up in abusive relationships. Finally, it’s no wonder that statistics show that young girls and women are much more likely to end up dead at the hands of an abusive partner.

These subliminal lessons are so massively problematic because they instil the belief that you come second. We don’t teach men that they are lesser just because they don’t have a girlfriend – nor that it’s the main thing they should aspire to do. It’s important that we explain to young girls that love isn’t always enough. That they deserve to forge an identity of their own and in their own right, and then have the choice to share that with someone else. We need to assure them that they have the authority to call men out when they’re being dickheads. We need to expose them to healthy relationships. We need to make them watch ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’. We need to make them unafraid of being branded ‘crazy’. Ultimately, we need to destroy the patriarchy.

‘Common People’

There’s a ton of typos in this – I apologise in advance. I’m shit at proofreading.

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common people

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The song ‘Common People’ by pulp was released in 1995 – which is no surprise to me. It just figures that this phenomenon would be conceived in the 90s. The funny thing is, the mould that pulp created of the CSM pretentious and naive art student,  is still massively prevalent and almost unchanging.  I’ve known a lot of people who have loved that song and yet remained oblivious to the fact that it’s actually about them. It’s humorous really. I  now refer to  ‘common people’  as the middle to upper class youth, who so desperately want to appear deep and misunderstood. They want to rebel against the stability of their surroundings. The poor tortured artist.

Nothing gets under the skin of a common person more than pointing out their position of privilege. Probably because it chips away at the façade of depth they aim to create with the whole pretence of poverty. I’ve never fully understood this phenomenon though – why would you want to be poor? I’d take a financially sound household, over being 8 years old counting up pennies out of my money box,  trying to scrape together a fiver for the leccy meter. The literal embodiment of  the phrase “pennies make pounds”. Why would anyone want to be in that position?  The answer is; Of course they don’t, they just want to come across like they have been in that position. Apparently if you’ve had an easy life that translates to having no depth (bollocks).

It then occurred to me that it’s the same principle as to why someone would buy a carefully and artificially distressed tee shirt from urban outfitters. It’s manufactured in a way that makes it look old. The alternative would be to trawl through the Chazzas and  second hand hotspots to find the authentic aged version of it. This takes time, effort and energy. This is redundant if you have the funds to avoid it. This metaphor goes beyond clothing, these people are desperate to offset the shallowness they perceive comes with a suburban upbringing, but the irony is that they seek the easiest and most suburban way to be granted this ‘depth’. That’s when the penny drops – the things that convenience can afford the middle classes,  are simultaneously what deprive us.

The irony continues, as they remain within a cycle that negates their freedom and ours. Though they want to break free from their circumstances, they want to do so with a suburban drive and value system that is inherently flawed and conventional. This consequently means that the history of  the middle classes doesn’t provide them with the same kinds of freedoms that the working class history has (as a result of our inability to conform socioeconomically). Essentially, they remain trapped in a kind of karmic wheel. Doing what they want becomes inherently interlinked with the laws of their conditioning – the law of the suburb, and that then consequently becomes like bondage.  This means that ‘mass culture is paradoxically both the problem and the medium through which to reconstruct social class, it is the unsubstantial bottomless realm of cultural collective fantasy’ (Jameson, 1979:P.22). Essentially  ‘Common people’ are driven by consumerist culture which means that however much they aim to find a greater meaning through acquisition and through the satisfaction of their appearance to others, there isn’t a greater meaning within their consumerist mode of existence – they will always be able to be condensed down to a PoundLandBandit starter pack meme.

This is because there is a difference between really loving fashion and really living the culture. Many people mirror what they see – but there are those who have been organically involved in the working class alternative scenes, who don’t receive the credit though they received the backlash. For example,  I remember when I was little,  my best friend at the time’s older sister was a frequenter of garage raves. We’d watch in fascination as she got herself ready – bamboo earrings, Playboy necklace,  her baby hairs gelled in a perfect way to shape her face. That style spread around the community. It was a hotbed of cultural exchange. Even us -primary school age- had our hair gelled back and wore nike TNs.  Those like her from estates were parodied almost constantly in mainstream media, branded ‘chavs’.  But lasses like her are the reason we’re now seeing all these ‘Y2K girls’ wear playboy necklaces and nike TNs.  If you grew up in a similar soci-economic place to me, you can really understand what I mean and the frustration this breeds. This middle to upper class imposter version is the one that has been commodified. The one that can be summarised in to  a“daddy can I have £40 and I’ll pretend it’s not for coke” genre of people.

It honestly feels like a type of appropriation. The struggle, mockery and segregation that the working and underclasses faced, is now a means of praise and rebellion for the middle class youth. This culture, these trends and inspirations, have come out of marginalisation. Most of us have been forced into the position of having lesser in terms of everything and have literally had to bleed a stone to develop our style. Being thrifty in these instances is a necessity rather than just an edgy pass time – just because you don’t have a pot to piss in,  it doesn’t mean you have to walk around like someone from a Charles dickens novel.

Essentially the working and under classes have to make the best of a bad lot. Culture, fashion and community are the things that can be acquired perhaps more readily than anything else. This brings me to the verse of the Pulp song that encompasses the message i hope to get across in this post;

You will never understand
How it feels to live your life
With no meaning or control
And with nowhere left to go.
You are amazed that they exist
And they burn so bright,
Whilst you can only wonder why.
Rent a flat above a shop
Cut your hair and get a job
Smoke some fags and play some pool
Pretend you never went to school,
But still you’ll never get it right
‘Cause when you’re laid in bed at night
And watching roaches climb the wall,
If you called your dad he could stop it all
Yeah

You’ll never live like common people
You’ll never do what common people do
You’ll never fail like common people
You’ll never watch your life slide out of view
And then dance and drink and screw
Because there’s nothing else to do

That’s the whole point of this. The ability of the upper classes to pick up different aspects of the working class for their own gains and then their ability to drop them whenever they feel like their rebellion is done. Meanwhile the actual authors of these styles receive nothing. I see soooo many people doing this as I grow older,  I see them assimilating into the rat race, happy to reminisce on that short period of time they were ‘edgy’ . It’s like the line ‘if you called your dad he could stop it all’  – metaphorically they’ve called their dads and got back on track.  The pretentious nature of their youth has now served its purpose. When they procreate the cycle will continue. Are you cringing yet?

It’s easy enough to misconstrue what I’m saying as bitterness – maybe it is in some sense. For as long as I can remember,  I fantasised about growing up with an assured and decent quality of life. I resented the fact that my mum was on benefits, that I lived on a council estate that constantly smelled of weed. I resented the fact that we couldn’t afford to go on holiday, or buy new clothes, or go on school trips. I resented that in college my friends were gifted festival tickets for Christmas, something that I knew would never happen for me. I hated that when I was at uni that even though I received grants at university – I still ended up financially worse off than everyone else. I hated that I struggled with private renting because I did not have a viable guarantor nor a parent to help with deposits and summer rent.  This is not a pity party though – nor does it imply that just because someone has financial security they have a perfect life. It’s just pointing out that it is a privilege to have financial security – if you grew up never worrying about how your parents were going to pay the bills, keep a roof over your head, keep the bailiffs away you’ve had privilege.  Things are intersectional, a person could have a dozen other thing overlapping their poverty.  If you’ve grown up financially comfortable, you will never have to work as hard for success as those who haven’t. It takes money to make money. Sorry not Sorry.

The one good thing about these ‘common people’ and their complete and utter lack of comprehension of the value of money;  is that it’s actually very easy to make money off them. If that sounds savage then so be it – there is NO ethical consumption under capitalism, especially if you’re poor. The birth of eBay and Depop has meant that the working class get to have a stake again. Many of the highest rated sellers have gone on to launch independent businesses and shops from the thrifty skills that are a symptom of being poor.  I myself have amassed over 4000 followers on Depop in a one year period, allowing me to be self sufficient. If I buy a damp bobbly kappa jumper from Keith with the ford focus at the car-boot, list it as ‘wavy’ ‘rare’ and ‘vintage’ for £40, I’m 100% certain that there’ll be a middle class youth who will excitedly snap it up.  That means I get to enjoy the £39.50 profit.  Does that mean that these ‘Common People’ then simply become fools? Or does it place their various different appropriations slotting into a broader critique and scepticism of the capitalistic class system? Idk tbh.