My pickup truck is faster than your Ferrari
Culture shifts. But it’s held in place by norms, and those are driven by status and affiliation.
No one actually needs a car that can accelerate one second faster than most other cars. But having one confers status in some circles. But what happens when a new generation of technology makes that previously fast car not the fastest anymore? Is it still a luxury good?
Mink coats used to confer some sort of prestige in some circles. What happens when a Patagonia jacket is warmer, more durable, cheaper, lighter, less cruel and easier to wear?
A big steak dinner was a way to express generosity and hospitality. What happens when you live in a community where steak isn’t seen as generous any longer?
Perhaps a master of the universe can point out that he can be at the meeting tomorrow simply by hopping on his private jet. Is there more status in being the one who can save time and overhead simply by dropping in via Zoom?
A big office may no longer be more prestigious than a resilient, productive workforce that works where it wants to. A loud factory crammed with workers might not be the sign of power and influence that it used to be. Smokestacks used to show that a city was on the move…
In many cases, luxury goods cease to have status when they make the owner look stupid.
Norms seem normal. Until they’re not.