One aspect of becoming more rich or going up the economic scale is that you are forced to change as a person, in order to conform to the new lifestyle , you have to get rid of a lot of your old lifestyle. Which ends up alienating at least some, if not all of your old friends and acquaintances.
Some people may not agree with this and say that “I would never leave my old friends or become a snooty snob just because I have more money now – no way!” The thing is, the divide need not necessarily come from you – it can come from the people around you. You may continue to be the same person , but your elevated social/economic status may make your friends feel alienated/jealous/isolated. It is they who might start avoiding you instead of you avoiding them. Once that happens , you will find it very difficult to keep the same level of interaction that you had with them.
That is the thing with money – a sharp drop or rise in money can create waves which upsets your personal and social boat.
At a broad community level, people at different economic levels feel a divide , unconsciously or consciously. Even if you are warm and friendly, people can feel that unspoken barrier which separates them. That leads to the so called “social divide” . That leads to the “rich part of town” and the “poor part of town”.
One might argue that people like Warren Buffet are still down to earth and he lives in the same ordinary house and he has a very normal life . But the thing with Warren Buffet is that he was born in a well-to-do family. His father was an established Congressman and they were already a part of the ruling elite. So Warren Buffet is not actually a rags-to-riches story.
This kind of social divide happens when a person goes up from having barely anything to a lot of riches. I read in The Guardian about a real case of a Pakistani cab driver called Faridi who came to USA as a poor immigrant from Pakistan and started life as a cab driver. Today he is a partner in a very successful New York Law Firm. He never imagined he would be a lawyer one day – he could only see himself driving cabs or doing manual work to make ends meet. In an interview with a reporter from The Guardian he explains how he had to change himself to become a part of the upper social class that he was now a part of and how in the process he lost all his old friends. He had to wear the right clothes, learn how to eat with a knife and fork, wear the right brand of shoes and suits. He had to put in a lot of time and effort to merge into the new social strata he found himself in, otherwise he would have looked out of place. His ultimate feeling is that of sadness because he says all his friends were driving taxis or working at supermarkets, so they never invited him to their get-togethers and they never even attended his wedding.
You can read more about Faridi on The Guardian site.
This kind of thing is very common but nobody really talks about it because it is disturbing and exposes the fact that becoming rich or poor creates havoc with your inter-personal relationships.
(Featured photo by Chris Li)