Thoughts From Boston 4: Accelerants
Why I Need an Editor (and you do too)

Rich People Getting Their Feelings Hurt

I cannot possibly jump into every online controversy that pisses me off, so I'm issuing this blanket statement. 

I no longer want to hear about rich people getting their feelings hurt. 

Let me clarify.  Rich people are, of course, people, and, as a result, it is a shame when they get their feelings hurt.  But it is not a social justice issue.

And yet on the internet, rich people getting their feelings hurt gets conflated with actual injustice all the time.  And they are not the same thing.  

A few weeks back, lots of people were sharing this New York Times piece about a guy who decided to boycott a deli because an employee of the deli accused Forest Whitaker of shoplifting.  This was supposed to be some kind of big thing about racism and how everybody's racist and his wife's bigotry is totally justified or something.  

But here's the thing: at the end of the day, whose life would you rather have: the guy working for maybe 10 bucks an hour in a Manhattan deli, or the millionaire actor?  If you said the deli guy, you are either profoundly racist or profoundly stupid.

Remember the controversy when Massachusetts screwed over foster kids with empty promises of free college tuition?  Me neither. Like most things that only affect the most vulnerable members of our society, it went pretty much unnoticed. But I know every time Jodi Picoult gets pissed at the New York Times.

It sucks to get your feelings hurt. It sucks to be humiliated by assholes. 

You know who gets humiliated by assholes every day? Poor people!  If you've never been broke enough to experience the kind of humiliation that millions of people in this country experience on a daily basis, good for you. If you have, you know what I'm talking about.

We live in a society where the game is rigged to screw poor people, and where people who are not poor benefit from systems of oppression.  If you are an economically successful person in this country--male, female, black, white, straight, gay, whatever-- you benefit from these systems.  And it's true that sometimes your class privilege may be incomplete and someone might hurt your feelings.  But you know what? At the end of the day, you are part of the ruling class of this country.  I don't want assholes to hurt your feelings, but let's not confuse this phenomenon with actual oppression.

And I think there's a danger in all this, which is that people conflate sharing some article about a rich person's feelings with actually taking a stand on an issue of consequence.  I think people can overlook their own complicity in oppression by complaining about how some other members of the ruling class have it better than them.

I know life's winners will never stop complaining that there is someone else who is maybe winning a little more than they are.  But I do wish that we could stop pretending that this is an issue of societal importance when it's really just a case of rich people getting their feelings hurt.