Being Privileged May Not Be a Choice, But Acting Human Is
A response to Thought Catalog’s piece on the social challenges of affluence.
A Thought Catalog story titled “Being Privileged is Not a Choice So Stop Hating Me For It” was brought to my attention this morning. Before reading it, I thought it may have been the seeds of a brand new genre of blogs dedicated to the parodic hardships of being “privileged.” Much to the entire Internet’s dismay, it was an earnestly written piece I think we can call The 1% Blues or as Amelia eloquently put it, the article equivalent of an #OMG #NoMakeup #SoUgly Instagram #selfie.
When did the humble brag lose its humble?
The story spawned two notable parodies–one care of Jezebel titled, “Being Stupid Is Not A Choice, So Stop Hating Me For It,” and another from The Atlantic Wire titled “Mastering the Art of The Thought Catalog Troll.”
Frankly, I think I understand where the author wants to be coming from but she lost me after attempting to cull favor with her part-time and baby sitting jobs. The consternation she describes seems trivial at best; cataloging the hardships inherent to life inspires far less empathy when they stem from a person’s affluence.
It could be argued, however, that success sprouted after a previous generation’s stint with it, and the subsequent perks, are a hindrance for some.
Take Lena Dunham. She’s written, directed and starred in a TV show that became the zeitgeist of our generation in two pithy seasons. This issue of her parents’ achievements is a favorite topic of killjoys; so what if her parents are famous artists? Shouldn’t that be further fodder to—no matter how much you may hate her or like her—commend her for not relying on their legacy and instead to pursue her own?
Of course, the problem with Thought Catalog’s story is really with the author herself. Her essay is bleeding self-consciousness and equal parts curious and obvious urgency to feel accepted.
Though I’m confounded by the silly assumption that everyone of less-than-privilege judges her because of her financial status, I’m mostly intrigued by the examples she draws. I didn’t have student loans either, however the conversation about them has never bothered or embarrassed me. And when they do come up, the response is always the same, an internal: thank you baby Jesus and Joseph and the donkey on which they gallop sense of gratitude.
It doesn’t seem entirely necessary to lie about the state of her suits’ newness, either—a “thank you, I appreciate it” would probably fare just as well—and I’d be hard-pressed to assume that her doorman (who is clearly dealing with many more ladies of privilege by virtue of his occupation) gawks at her J. Crew packages. But I also understand that lamenting about life in New York is part of a role that many try out as kids in young adult bodies.
Ultimately, the author is seeing the world through a unilaterally critical, albeit delusional lens that is likely incredibly different from what is actually happening to and around her. If I had to guess, no one gives a shit about what she does or does not have. Her problem seems rooted in something far more personal. Maybe in reversing the topic tethered to the young New Yorker’s lament about her bank account that always harbors “enough money,” she is, just like the rest of us, trying to trek on.
The thing of it is, no one likes a brat.