15 August, 2008

I Am the Worst Blogger Ever

[This has been cross-posted to my Livejournal, and I felt like posting it here.]

There's an interesting post over at Feministe right now about low-wage work, struggling to get by, and related topics. There are some brutally honest (and heartbreaking) responses in the comments.

And then one person, who goes by the handle "Sensible," jumps in with this doozy:

Over the past few years, I’ve made between 18 and 24k and I live well. I live in a high COL area and spend nearly half my net income on rent and must tolerate a roommate. But I have enough left to eat grass-fed steak twice a week and wild-caught fish the rest of the week. Thanks Trader Joe’s! I even manage to save some money each month.

I don’t know why people are whining so much. I don’t want to live this way forever but as a young, healthy person, it’s fine. Living well is all about figuring out what things you value and spending money on them. For everything else, just skip it.

Because I'm an asshat, and because the above made my blood boil, I responded with this:

Maybe they’re “whining” because they are barely managing to survive and yet working their asses off?

Hmmm, so sorry that we’re not all like you due to various factors, Sensible. Not all of us are “healthy” (I include myself in this category, since I have a chronic illness, but am lucky enough to have insurance *and* I’m young–-youth is NOT a guarantor of perfect health!), and not all of us can afford to “figure out what things [we] value.” As many others in this thread have attested, when one lives paycheck-to-paycheck, much of that money is automatically allocated to things like food and rent.

Of course, there is no response yet. "Sensible's" comment really got on my nerves, and even though I posted the above response a few days ago, I am still thinking about that comment. I know my response was more biting than it needed to be, but I'm so sick of people assuming that just because they themselves can live on x, y, or z amount per year and still be thriving/very healthy/able to eat steak, everyone else can (and, it is implied, should aspire to do so) as well.

It feels kind of weird that comments like these really get to me. Is anyone else bugged by comments like "Sensible's," or comments/attitudes like it?


Anonymous said...

1) You are not the worst blogger ever. Not by a long shot.

2) I love how easy it is for some people to assume that b/c they are doing well that the rest of us should suck it up.

They have never had a chronic illness, so it's easy to say "just cheer up, you don't need those meds".

They have never lived in an area where the price of groceries to make a BP&J will run you $20, if you already own the milk to wash it down. On the islands, we have no Trader Joe's or anything like it. We have a small and pricey natural food store that I can only buy some things at, but they also don't sell meat or meat products. I don't know what the COL is like in Sensible's area, but I guarantee it is nothing compared to Hawai'i's, where you are lucky if you make a wage that you can live on. I make well more than minimum, but it is simply not livable for my daughter and myself. Luckily, I have a husband now, so I have insurance for us again, and enough money to get by.

FTR, I don't think your response was too biting. I get frustrated w/ commenters at Feministe and Feministing sometimes b/c they are sometimes on their high horse of whatever we are talking about. FE, when they were snarking about all the Starbucks closures, joking that it served SB right for growing so fast they lost focus of what it meant for the people working there.

Anyhow, good post, and sometimes, we just need to get things off of our chests.

amanda said...

It's class privilege, pure and simple.

The kinds of people who make these comments are the comfortably upper-middle-class folk who had to get through college on a comfortably middle-middle-class income that one time, and they made it work by cutting out their daily Starbucks and going without cable (which could be had at a friend's place instead).

They got their jobs through the connections they forged at school or past work or by pure luck of being born into a certain family, and they think that connection was some act of pure smarts on their part. Which means if you don't have those connections, it's a failure on your part.

I mean, it's not that hard right? All you have to do is buy in bulk and cut coupons. Or shop at JC Penney instead of Macys. Or carpool. Or drink generic pop instead of Coke.

Why are you whining? You don't have a Netflix subscription to cut? You don't have a grocery store within two hours' travel (one way)? You already live in the cheapest place in town and don't even have an a/c and already wear three sweaters and a blanket at wintertime to keep down the utility bills? You already buy clothes exclusively at Goodwill?

Well, there must be something you can do. Maybe you should have thought harder before having kids. What, you were happily married and financially comfortable then? Well you just shouldn't have gotten sick. What were you thinking?

Well then, if you don't want my help, you can just stay poor. Your choice.

Anonymous said...

I echo amandaw. It reminds me of naturally thin people who say "Well, I eat junk food all day and never exercise and I am still thin as a rail, so those fatties must be mainlining bacon grease all day!" It's unsystematic, unanalytic, unnuanced thinking, and it always bugs the crap out of me when I see it. No such thing as being "too biting" in response.