GRE Style Quiz - Reading Comprehension Part 2
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The unsettling thing about social status is that it’s always relative. Where you stand on the social ladder has less to do with your actual circumstances than your comparative position in relation to everyone else on the ladder. Inevitably, this ranking produces more losers than winners, not unlike in sports, where second best is never good enough: there’s only one gold medal in an Olympics game, and everything else feels like a consolation. Here’s how Wilkinson and Pickett put it: ‘Whether people live in a shack with an earth floor and no sanitation or in a three-bedroom house with fridge, washing machine and television, low social status is experienced as overwhelmingly degrading.’

Climbing the ladder doesn’t necessarily solve the problem; it might just raise the bar. Say you jump a few rungs, landing at the top of your peer group. You gaze down from this new perch and think how far you’ve made it. But then you realize that your reference point has now shifted: you’ve moved up to a new social group and the top has been pushed higher. A successful venture capitalist once told me that, despite its exalted status, Silicon Valley hides a lot of misery and trauma. His explanation: no matter how much you achieve, someone is always above you. Status, it seems, is a game you can never win because the target keeps moving; an obscure game in which every success can also be a failure, and every winner – a loser.


Q. According to the author, the satisfaction of having achieved a status in society:

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