NOTE: I have never been called privileged, and I don’t want to be considered either privileged or unprivileged. So is it simple jealousy or more complex emotions to hate on privileged people?
Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
I was born into and grew up in a ‘privileged’ society. Old money family, to be precise. And I didn’t think much about it while growing up. Privileged didn’t mean that we had a couple of Rolls Royce cars in our garage. It just means that we didn’t look wistfully at other children and wish our lives were like theirs. Honestly, none of us thought twice about it. Oh how naive we all were.
My first shock of the kind of hate mentioned in the question happened right here on Quora. Yes, it took Quora to make me realize that being privileged is ‘shameful’ and that I shouldn’t either talk about it or if I do, I should be terribly apologetic about it. After reading the hate-filled comments under the answer I wrote, I left Quora. I was scared, I was shocked and I was deeply hurt. This was the first time I had been attacked this way and I didn’t know how to react. I had not realized that people can actually be so hateful. So much rudeness and insensitivity…I hope in earnest that I never cross my paths with those insufferable individuals ever again.
This was my answer →
It was a very innocent answer. I had just tried to tell everyone about my family’s rich history. Unfortunately, for a lot a lot of people ‘richness’ is a exclusively measure of money. And I had written my answer without keeping that meaning in mind. You could read up the comments below it. I haven’t deleted any of them. It serves as a grim reminder to me to know how hateful people can get. My ancestors were verbally abused, I was called names and even my upbringing was found to be at fault.
I wondered for many days after that episode about what could be the underlying reason behind all that hate.
One common mistake that a lot of people do here on Quora is that they don’t read others’ answers with an open mind. They view it with a comparative angle with something they are familiar with. When one talks about aristocracy and privilege, each person reading it (mainly the ones who are not in that social circle) would infer it in a way they could relate to…a person they know. The activities that the rich man did/does. How he amassed his wealth? How many people suffered in the process? And with this prejudiced mindset, they read the answer of the person, all the while judging them as being one of ‘them’ that these people have grown up hating/despising. And what better a way than Quora to display your hatred? In my answer, I grew weary of having had to explain to at least 80 people about how my ancestors were not like what they were thinking. They were just refusing to believe that ‘rich people’ could be any different from the standardized version in their minds. A person from the United States would have one idea about a ‘privileged’ person, an Indian would have another idea, a Chinese would have another idea, and so on and so forth.
So the hate being spewed is not only on the individual who is in front of them. It is on all the people they knew or know that are ‘much better off’ than themselves. They think that being rich or privileged makes people arrogant, lacking empathy, having a certain disconnect with the ‘real’ world (the one filled with every misery imaginable) and that they look down their noses at people who are poor. I have tried to reason with people that those traits are visible mainly with the nouveau riche – people who have recently acquired wealth, typically those perceived as ostentatious or lacking in good taste. Old money people don’t care about how rich they are or about their privileges or think that they ought to look down upon poorer sections of society to maintain their social standing.
Somehow, people just refuse to agree with me. So now, I don’t engage in such discussions. Like Ann Landers famously quoted…
Maturity is the ability to live in peace with those which we cannot change.