Arduous recently helped set up an APLS carnival, which sounds like a great idea. That is, it sounds like a great idea once you know what an APLS is. Apparently, APLS is a replacement for YAWNs, another acronym I’d never heard of.
YAWN stands for “Young And Wealthy, but Normal.” As news rags are prone to do, especially in election years, the London Telegraph and the San Francisco Chronicle made up a new demographic. In this case, it’s 20-30 year olds who have high incomes but live below their means.
Arduous thought this was a dumb name (and I can’t blame her) and suggested a contest for a better one. The winner was APLS, “Affluent Persons Living Sustainably.”
It’s not bad, and it’s certainly better than YAWNs, but it rubs me the wrong way. To nitpick first, I’m not a fan of “persons,” which sounds… elitist. The ‘s’ on the end also makes it awkward to talk about in the singular. It sounds fine to be a YAWN, but wierd to be an APLS.
More importantly, and I’m not alone in this, “affluent” doesn’t ring true to me. It matches the original meaning of YAWN, which is fine, but it definitely cuts out many who don’t consider themselves wealthy (like me and Maggie).
To try and salvage “affluent,” Green Bean and Arduous linked to the Global Rich List, to show everyone that they’re rich compared to the rest of the world. This is one of my pet peeves, so I’m going to bold it. Watch out!
Income isn’t wealth. The Global Rich List looks exclusively at income when determining how “rich” you are. This is a huge misconception that has serious repercussions. Lots of people feel like they must be rich because they have a high income and ignore the fact that they also have high costs, with disastrous results.In this case, it doesn’t make much sense to talk about income without talking about cost of living as well. Here in Indiana, I could live comfortably with $10,000 (top 13%). In Manhattan, I’d probably need $50,000 a year to live in similar conditions (top 0.98%). That’s a huge difference for the same standard of living.
Of course, here in the US I have a much higher standard of living than the vast majority of people living in, say, Haiti. But on the other hand, a lifestyle that would cost $1 a day in Haiti would probably cost several orders of magnitude more here in the US.
I don’t want to pick on Arduous and Green Bean too much. APLS sounds much better than YAWN as an acronym. It’s also nicer to include more people than just the young and wealthy. And the income/wealth correlation is a problem with our society in general.
And, in the end, everyone reading this is perfectly capable of making green moves. In most cases, reducing and reusing are cheaper than the alternative, so there’s always that opportunity even if you can’t afford much organic food.