Notes on the Existence and Changes in Society in the 21st Century

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Eganam, aka "Eggo," playing inside the 76th street entrance to Central Park.

Friday, August 12, 2022.  Another very muggy day in New York yesterday. Whaddaya expect; it’s August. Although, remember September can bake too. I always look forward to the weekends as they offer the time and luxury of reading and thinking.

The state of the world and the state of our society is threatening and dangerous to the well-being of everybody. You can lay it at the feet of our leadership, but ultimately our leadership is from us and of us — although they often don’t know that, and are unaware of it. It is no doubt true that there are many sociopaths and psychopaths among our leadership. 

I’m not referring to the United States’ political leadership, but of the leadership on the entire planet. I also know that there is nothing I can do but accept it because it is not so much an individual, but a force, like all of nature. However, that said, there is so much darkness encroaching.

I elected somewhere along the line in an effort to make a living as a writer, to write about Society, as it has been an interest of mine since childhood. That sounds like an exaggeration when I see the words before me, but I can trace it directly to my childhood and the table at mealtime. 

It was directly related to my father’s youth and young manhood as a native New Yorker, a Brooklyn born Irishman. Having been brought up since infancy in New England, it remains for me an object of interest, something outside myself but that which I have bonded with.

So I could say that it was my father’s natural legacy that actually led me down this path rather than a conscious move on my part. There is a Society today although it is distracted and without codes of behavior. For the world has become proletarianized in terms of fashion and codes of behavior.

This probably is simply the result of evolution. And we of the 20th century have witnessed more “change” than probably anytime that came before. The result of technology from the electric light to the automobile and airplane to the age of digital. These changes have moved very quickly, from a historical perspective, and they have been so massive that we have forgotten about the beginning, which for many of us, demographically, is only a lifetime away but buried in our consciousness.

Society, however, as it intrigues, fascinates and was motivated in past centuries, is non-existent. The digitalization of social activities, what we call “social media” has made everything proletarian and ultimately playing to the lowest common denominator of social interaction. Palm Beach and Newport, and London, Paris and Beverly Hills, are still there and occupied bumper-to-bumper with members of the elite now being digitally oriented also. 

But the elite now means money, and really nothing else. Even the tycoons are measured by the amounts, sizes of their personal incomes and fortunes. The boastfulness now starts in the trillions and even ordinary people who are living at the poverty line or below, can spout numbers in the seven, eight, and nine figures, as if they were commonplace experiences. Along with the change has been the loss in the collective unconscious of what money is. In fact, what it has become under these circumstances, is debt. Few seem to realize the irony of this.

So there is no Society that resembles the days of yore where people made social careers for themselves and the cleverest of them were connected comfortably to the corridors of power. Society is a serious business. It still is although it has lost its mojo. 

Now many of us are obsessed with having our picture taken. And Instagram explains it. More than looking at others, we (and I mean it in the general sense, not the personal) like looking at ourselves. Along with the digitalization and the selfie generations, there is the commercial aspect that is tied to Philanthropy. 

Philanthropy in New York is an industry. It defines Society today in New York and probably all the major population centers in the United States. Philanthropy has replaced Clubs as the logical path to “belonging.” And belonging used to be the path to recognition. Wealth creation, once a man or woman becomes rich, transmogrifies as a concept. Power garnishes the imagination of a wealthy person. The sky’s the limit and now we know even the sky isn’t the limit.

Many a man and woman have washed their dirty laundry through the public process of becoming a Philanthropist. This is not a bad thing. Need is need. Climbers have always existed. But a century ago and before in New York, the women of society kept in touch by going around in their private phaetons and leaving their cards with the butler, as if to say: “thinking of you … (so don’t forget to think about me).”

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