Vanity Fair sent their very own Nick Carraway — an observant, penniless everyman named A. A. Gill — into the gilded world of the extremely, painfully, incomprehensibly rich. He discovered that many are suffering from a new psychological disorder he has dubbed “Perfection Anxiety” the ennui of the most vulgarly wealthy people. After they’ve “bought, consumed, collected, donated, and holidayed” themselves into unprecedented levels of boredom, they discover the only thing that makes them spend more money is the deafening of expectations of their “family and friends, and their friends, and the servants.” As a result they live in constant fear that they are not displaying high enough levels of flossin’. How can anyone live like under this kind of stress?
How do you know if you’re in danger? Below, a few indicators:
Your money is new, not matured: “Old, inherited wealth is generally already bound up in property and trusts and obligations and lawsuits,” explains Gill. The newly minted have oceans of liquid cash and mountains of responsibility to the poor to live a life of showy extravagance. “That’s why they have $20 million weddings and hire a pop star to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to them.”
You suffer from loss of focus: “A crooked Picasso, an unplumped scatter cushion, a faint mark on the handwoven silk wallpaper can drive them to a frothing distraction.”
Your senses have become dull: According to Gill, it’s a bad sign “when you have your tea flown in from a micro-garden in Darjeeling and it still tastes rather like tea, when you’ve designed your own scent made from the squeezed glands of civets and the petals of rare orchids and that fails to give you the high.”
You may or may not be turning into some kind of human-animal hybrid: Some wealthy people are so preoccupied with having the very best of everything that they turn into “envious owls.” Gill also recounts this horrifying case: “I know of a man who gets his suit pants made in Italy and the jackets on Savile Row. In his underwear, he’s short, fat, furry, and stooped.” Egads, man! Seek help!
If you or a loved one suffer from Perfection Anxiety, please know there is an antidote before the eventual descent into Grey Gardens madness (trapped in spectacularly fancy squalor, murmuring about $6,000 bottles of wine). Vanity Fair advises obsessively bidding on expensive art, because the competition and absurd prices might just be enough to remind you of the real joy of spending billions — to make yourself happy.