If Blood is Thicker than Water, are Friendships Thicker than Wallets?


 NYT has an article on the effect that money (the fact that some people have more while some have much less) has on friendships:

As people with various-sized bank accounts brush up against each other, there is ample cause for social awkwardness, which can strain relationships, sometimes to a breaking point. Many find themselves wrestling with complicated feelings about money and self-worth and improvising coping strategies…

Although the wealthy can wall themselves off in buildings with doormen or in high-tax suburbs, other trends in society lead the affluent to brush up against the not-so-affluent. Gentrification, an urban movement from Prospect Heights, Brooklyn to downtown Los Angeles, moves the professional class into the neighborhoods of the working class. They mix when their children attend the same school or participate in athletic leagues.

Feeling awkward about the differences in net worth is not just an issue for those on the bottom of the equation. Some wealthy people — especially the young — have trouble admitting that they are different.

"We are allegedly a classless society, and that's obviously completely untrue, but people don't want to acknowledge that those differences exist," said Jamie Johnson, a 26-year-old heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune. He explored attitudes about money among his peers in his 2003 documentary, "Born Rich." His new documentary, "The One Percent," which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 29, looks at the political influence of wealthy Americans.

Mr. Johnson said that some of his moneyed friends act like they have fewer resources than they do, making a show of taking the subway and saying they can't afford a cab. "It's to avoid that awkwardness of seeing the distinction of social class," he said.

On the other end of the scale, many people will go to great lengths to present the facade of economic equality to their friends.  It seems that we are still trying to "keep up with the Joneses":

"I call them 'money pods,' " [Suze Orman] said. "Look at a group of female friends walking down the street. They're often all dressed identically: the same shoes, the same belts, the same handbag."

But what is not easily apparent, Ms. Orman said, is that one of the women may have saved for months to buy her one expensive handbag, or more likely, put it on her credit card. Her identically dressed friends, meanwhile, may have the salary or the family money to afford a closet full of designer purses.

The rest of the article can be found here:

"Money Changes Everything"  [NYT]


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