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First published January 1, 2022
Omnivorism also may have a dampening effect on the cultural ecosystem. If the “friction” of status struggles is an important creative force, omnivorism defuses tensions within the social groups most likely to create new conventions: namely, artists, the creative class, the media, and subcultures. Much great art and culture arose from righteous indignation toward bad taste, commercialist kitsch, and the conservative establishment. By eliminating these as legitimate targets for criticism we create much weaker, less meaningful conventions.
All analysis of cultural trends should thus first work through an innovation’s status implications. In 2019 Vox identified mini Australian shepherds as the “dog of the moment,” attributing their popularity to “portable, apartment-friendly size and striking good looks.” Many dog breeds are handsome and small enough for apartment life; the article neglected to mention that mini Australian shepherds may also serve as status symbols. Just because no one who was interviewed for the article openly admitted their status seeking doesn’t mean we should take their alibis in good faith.