To begin, I know, okay? I know that Thought Catalog is a piece of garbage, and I know that its purpose is to serve as an aggregator of sorts for all kinds of self-involved writer program assholes whose experiencing in crafting sentences lies mainly in the txt speek spectrum of lexicon. Their style can best be described as unfocused, which is pretty amazing considering that the pieces they write for Thought Catalog rarely extend beyond the 700-word category. It’s as if every non-depressive jumped ship from LiveJournal at the same time (assuming any of them are old enough to have been on LiveJournal in the first place) and formed their own narcissist colony where cohesive thoughts don’t even deserved to be cataloged at all. And that is what’s called irony.
With that said, I sometimes get diverted to Thought Catalog, anyway. Mostly from other sites, and in the case of today, from a link someone posted to their Twitter feed. I give full credit to this person, by the way, not only for leading me to the piece I’m about to write about but also for providing the most apt reaction to it I’ve seen so far:
The Thought Catalog piece is written by a 20-year-old woman named Rachael Sacks and is titled “I’m Not Going To Pretend That I’m Poor To Be Accepted By You.” Predictably, it – as well as its author – is loathsome. Sacks begins her piece by admitting that she is wealthy. Actually, she admits that her parents are wealthy and willing to bestow their wealth upon her, and she uses this wealth to do totally benevolent things like go shopping.
Sacks then describes going to the grocery store after she goes shopping and happening upon a conversation taking place between the cashier and another customer, in which the customer says that she went to a state school to save her parents money, and then the cashier replies that that makes sense, and then they look at Sacks who is obviously wealthy because she just went shopping somewhere expensive and they obviously pass judgment on her for this because they don’t smile at her.
And before I continue with Sacks’ point, can I just say that it is a truly wealthy person’s privilege to assume that a cashier not smiling at them means that they have been judged for being wealthy. It’s as if the lumpen proletariat have few weapons at their disposal (duh, how could they afford them) so they default to rudeness and this unacceptable level of disrespect is somehow equivalent to class war.
Sacks’ main point (oh yes, she has one!) is that it was unfair of this other customer and the cashier to judge her for being wealthy, and it is “disgusting” for someone to pretend that they are beneath their (or their father’s) station. According to her:
“People shouldn’t make others feel bad about their own personal finances. How people spend their money is their own choice. There is a certain amount of tact you should show around people who can’t buy exorbitantly expensive things. But should you classify someone as a person based on how they are showing their wealth, or lack of it? It just seems really petty and makes you look bitter and unhappy with your own life if you are casting nasty glares at college girls in Gristedes because you’re a cashier. What purpose does it serve if all you want to do is reflect your own misery on other people?”
Uh. Right. So it’s petty to judge someone based on their wealth or lack of it, but at the same time, all cashiers must be miserable because it is their poor person’s lot to wait on college girls at an upscale grocery store. But none of this should matter anyway, because Sacks claims that she had no idea she had any money until she was in high school, as she apparently never watched the news or read the newspaper or had any idea that some people in this country didn’t have doctor fathers who lived in gated communities:
“…I had no idea that I had any money until I was about 14 and people called me “Rachael Sacks of Cash”. My parents bought me clothes from Old Navy and I ate at McDonalds on weekends when I was a kid.”
Heh. Us poor people, huh? Always wearing clothes from Old Navy and binging on McDonald’s.
Since Thought Catalog published the essay (seriously, they call the things they publish “essays”), Sacks has predictably become the recipient of a certain level of Internet hate. Well. She calls it hate and the people who send it “haterz,” which, I mean, of course. Because she wrote something for Thought Catalog. Sacks then went on to comment on her piece to a reporter, claimed she regrets nothing about writing it and stands by everything she said. And then she did the thing that people who say stupid things do, which is claim to be mystified by the attention she’s getting because, like, shouldn’t we have other things to think about?
Of course Sacks has nothing new to hear from me, but I’d still like to comment, anyway. Both as a writer and as a poor person, but mostly as someone who read the thing she asked be published on the Internet even though, according to her, nobody should have paid attention to it, anyway.
Hey, Rachael? Maybe the treatment you received by the customer and the cashier wasn’t because of your perceived wealth. Maybe – and by “maybe” I mean “surely,” because everything about your piece tells me so – it was because you’re an asshole. Maybe your insistence that pretending to be poor (by no other action than simply not flaunting wealth) is beneath you is what’s really disgusting, and that despite what you believe or your father told you, it really is spectacular that there are such differences in income in this country, and that your inability to acknowledge this – not by going shopping, but by writing your piss-poor princess piece – is what makes you such an unbelievably deserving target. Worse, your closing sentence:
“And if we do judge people for displaying wealth or not we should attempt to show tact because fortune can change.”
…almost sounds like no one should be able to judge you because what if you’re poor some day, Rachael? Then what? You’re allowed to sneer at other people? And that’s the worst thing that can happen to them, because clearly it’s the worst thing that’s happened to you? Do you have any idea how incredible it would be if the main thing I had to worry about in regards to income was complete strangers being envious of it?
Sacks commented to a reporter that the response to her piece is “reverse elitism,” which I kind of expected because the kind of person to cry rich prejudice is the same kind of person who thinks that white men are the most discriminated-against group on the planet. It’s also the same kind of person who attends a private college’s writing program on her father’s dime and this is what qualifies her for Thought Catalog, and at the same time, is a person who has the following opinion of literature and writing in general:
“I’ve written books and stuff but basically I’m too young to actually figure that out. I think I’m interesting enough to have a memoir maybe…People are not going to go and read some beautiful memoir anymore, it sucks. They want something stupid and light and gossipy and horrible and I could probably deliver on that.”
She also noted that her goal is to become “a rich eccentric old person by writing a lot of things.”
Ultimately, this is Sacks’ problem. It’s not that she’s rich. It’s not that her father likes to provide for her. It’s that she’s confused being rich with a beneficient father with being an interesting, valid person. She confuses work and what she contributes to the world with “things.” Not talent. Not actual essays, Thought Catalog. Not articles or stories or books. Just things. And for someone like her, I imagine that’s what most of life is. Just a collection of things, pretty and expensive and paid for by someone else, completely disposable because understanding their value is something only a poor person would do.