“I have an assistant to do all that,” says Truly Rich Lady matter-of-factly when I ask which apps she uses the most (Bumble? Venmo? Tsundere Sharks?). She wasn’t talking about Siri, Alexa, Cortana, or (the unsexily named) Google Assistant, but a real human person whose fulfillment in life is to professionally help her.
To borrow a term from Byron Tully, author of The Old Money Book, TRL is a bonafide OMG or Old Money Gal. Jet-black hair. Tiny figure nourished by nibbles. A naturally preserved face that raises no questions. Sweet, sweet sugar money. Beautiful old house with poor mobile phone signal. And as a TRL, with access to a Human Assistant, she rarely taps on an app and, more important, is never really online because, well, she does not need to be.
But how can anyone (no matter how stinky old their money is) not partake in the shiny things the Internet offers? The anytime access to infinite information? The creation of social connections that otherwise would be impossible? How could she not need it?
“Why would you bother?” responds Patrician Lady (older money of convoluted origin). The devoted Assistant or App-ssistant, she explains with what seems like an attempt at a wink (her face hardly moved), can remember appointments, book a table at Blackbird, oversee a dinner party, capture the elusive monster-like pet (The Husband), secure directions to wherever she’s going and then coordinate with Driver, and also hold her purse. Plus, you don’t have to deal with the inelegant act of tapping on a glass screen. You just have to softly whisper and things will happen: “Baaaag…”
Naturally, a TRL’s engagement in social media (very low to none) is inversely proportionate to her practice of religion (mass every morning, morning, afternoon, and evening prayers). I contact the youngest TRL I know (a ravishing 47) via Yahoo Mail (I do not have social media myself) to explore this, and she answers two weeks later with, “Sup?”
This Unassuming Hardware Heiress says she rarely does social media because she’s not attracted to its overflow of mindless information like what you had for dinner, or where you vacationed, or your thoughts. Like other TRLs, UHH possesses a fascinating life that is very much enough. She fills me in on what she’s been up to: “Holed up in beach house. Deciding how to further perfect the Bermuda Highball. Auntie Mariana is here! Come.” Also, she mentions her new store of flowers and food items that is taking up so much time to manage… via Assistants.
But how do they get all the Must-Know-Now news that flows ceaselessly from the mouth of the Internet beast? Well, have you heard of the newspaper? And the landline? And of course there is the long weekday lunch, when a TRL will meet with a JRL (Just Rich Lady), who will then tell her everything. They will fill their minds and tummies with a lively discussion and barely touched food. It is an experience that cannot be replicated online, because no emojis will fully express the nuances of a lovely in-person chat.
And what of the rare appearances on social media? Just know that TRLs will never present themselves as someone other than a person whose favorite color is Hotel Beige and drink of choice is super still water. In other words, manners of the annoyingly perfect kind are not thrown out the window when they log on to Twitter, Instagram, or the world’s current serpent overlord, Facebook.
No complaining or blathering or bragging or oversharing. No emotional pleas or contrary opinions that rise above the scale of pimiento on the Scoville scale. These things can be done in their sleep. And if they encounter something or someone they don’t like, they will try not to speak ill of it or her. The most they can muster is a vague comment about optimism. Like: “It will get better… The peppers in your garden will get better.” Or: “Your hair is healthy.”
The creatures that occupy the uppermost strata of the social pyramid, a dizzying height where the air is sweet and thin, do not turn into words what is topmost on their minds. For example, I am not saying what I am really thinking about my friends, because I also live up there and I cannot breathe.
The World Wide Web might as well be the Wild Wild West, a place where no rules are the rule, dizzying speed is king, and an excess of openness is encouraged. These are contrary to the well-ordered and private lives of a TRL, so please don’t expect them—or me—to be there. Let’s just meet for lunch.