How people are positioned relative to one another, this is the work of culture. Culture decides who I am to you, and who you are to me. Culture gives the ideas by which association is defined and calculated. (Very roughly speaking, it’s some version of kinship for hunter-gathers, some notion of hierarchy for pre and early modern cultures, and some notion of accomplishment for modern and post modern cultures. With lots and lots of local variation.)
But because our culture is in a certain turmoil, how we define ourselves relative to one another is now unclear. We have many competing elites. We have many evaluative principles. We have a new discomfort with hierarchical distinction and status asymmetry. And we have new networking technologies that give us the opportunity (and illusion) of access.
We will work it out. After all, Facebook only 5 years.” —Making friends on Facebook :: Grant McCracken