Lucky enough to get stationed only 40 miles or so from home, when the 10th Special Forces Group , or our little slice of it, at least, wasn’t out and doing, the gang regularly surged into the Hognose family manse, for any of a number of reasons. This put Hognose’s parents — a corporate executive and a teacher, the first in their families to have attended college — in close proximity to a crowd of high-functioning but demographically diverse SF teamies and support guys.
‘Nose didn’t notice anything unusual… the team guys were about similar, in intellect and interests, to his high school and college friends. It was his mother who noticed something: she was the only one of the guys’ mothers still married to the guy’s father. Many of them came from families that were marginal, if not chaotic.
A series of explorations on the cultural divide that PBS, of all things (Public Broadcasting System, a teleision and radio broadcaster run by the Government as an alternative to commercial channels, and a de facto infotainment subsidy for the wealthy elite) has been running, made us think about how the culture of the Army and armed forces in general is so different from the culture of the corrupt, greedy, inbred snobs who are running the country into the ground.
Charles Murray notes, in one of these posts:
One of my central propositions in my 2012 book “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010″ was that a high-IQ, highly educated new upper class has formed over the last half century. It has a culture of its own that is largely disconnected from the culture of mainstream white America. I could expect that many of my readers would be part of that new upper class. The problem that stumped me for a while was how to convince them that their isolation is real. Eventually, I decided to try self-recognition. And so Chapter 4 of “Coming Apart” was titled “How Thick is Your Bubble?” and contained a 25-item quiz that let readers see for themselves where they stood on a 100-point scale. The lower their scores, the thicker the cultural bubble that separated them from the lives of ordinary Americans.
For a kid from a well-off, bookish, and somewhat genteel family, the Army is a culture shock. For ‘Nose, it was a welcome shock, like diving into a cool lake on a baking August day, but for some others, it’s a horrifying one. This is kind of like the shock PBS viewers and listeners get as their rich-man’s-welfare-broadcaster shows them the horror of Trump, and worse, from their point of view, his teeming horde of oiks.
You get the impression that the PBS types are all for democracy, but not if it means their guys can be voted out.
To the credit of PBS, someone over there is trying to understand, In any event. They have been asking the eminent social scientist (if there is a such thing) Charles Murray to clarify things, and he’s developed a quiz based on social isolation…. the Do You Live in a Bubble quiz.
Our hypothesis: most of the readers of this blog, don’t. Even though it’s probable that they average higher than, well, average, on markers of social status like education and income.
Murray on what your Bubble Score says about you.
Murray on the most socially inbred zip codes in the country. Stop us if this surprises you, but they’re not places like Hog Waller, Tennessee, Dry Toad, Tejas, or Brother Darrell, Vermont. They’re pretty much all in Manhattan.
The service can also be isolating, if you let it be. We know many vets who get along fine with vets and nonvets alike, but whose preferred social circle is, at its core, the Brotherhood that has Seen the Elephant.
It’s easy to get isolated from other vets if your veterans’ group is of low density on the ground — you can always find another soldier, but how many SF vets live in your community? In Nose’s, he’s it, although there’s at least one guy two towns south — social media is lifesaving. SF guys have an email list of some 20 years’ standing, a more recent Facebook page (SF Brothers), and a number of forums, some for SF alone (like quietprofessionals.com) and some for all-service SOF (like socnet.com); all of these require authentication to post, or to be identified as an SF vet. There are other means of communication that open up once you’re tapped in to the community, but they operate according to the First Rule of Fight Club.
The armed forces also has the effect of raising your bubble score (higher the score, the lower the cultural isolation). Our guess is that the Blogbrother, who is not a vet, but who is by far the more social, less misanthropic brother, will score substantially lower on the quiz than Hognose, his own brother. That is because many of the things that raised Nose’s score apart from his mere veteranitude, are things he only experienced as a consequence of joining up — marching in a parade, living in poverty, living among a lot of non-college grads (which neither of us does anymore, our neighbors are all Ward and June Cleaver) .
Come to think of it, Blogbro went through a financial cauterizing, too, at one point in his life, and definitely lived on a low income — probably lower than mine as a private.
Thinking of it, Nose should not be proud of his high score (56) as it’s mostly an artifact of his decision to join up decades ago. But that alone had some pretty profound de-isolating effects.