Author’s Note: This post is a bit of a rant and a downer. I have to vent somewhere, I suppose.
For those familiar with video games, pay to win games are some of the worst. Usually they’re free to play, but they have mechanics that make it difficult to play well or enjoy all the content. However, if players buy some stuff, the game gets a lot easier. In some cases, it might give paying players a distinctive advantage over everyone else.
Recently I was reminded that life behaves the same way.
In the middle of a rapid increase of COVID cases in my state, I had the misfortune of walking by a playground in a public park. None of the parents were social distancing. All of the kids were playing near each other on the playground equipment. I was the only one outside with a mask on.
All of the cars in the parking lot (save mine) were pretty nice. Many were SUV’s, with the little soccer balls and basketballs on the back window, the bumper stickers bragging about how their kid was on honor roll, or the insipid slogans that only the wealthy white folks in Alabama could dare to pull off. These people dressed like the cookie-cutter clones of upper middle class one might imagine in America. In other words, they were well off.
They could afford face masks and hand sanitizer.
They just choose not to.
And it’s not like these people are limited to Alabama. In many places across the country, people like them are going shopping or partying in gated communities or doing whatever else obscenely wealthy people do. They’re acting like it’s unbearable to stay alone on their estates, with their food and necessaries delivered to their door by people who can’t afford to get sick. They’re acting like their bank accounts can bribe a virus to stay away, like it’s a goddamned viking threatening to ransack the English countryside.
This illustrates my earlier point: some people are successful at life because they started with wealth. It doesn’t take a psychic or theoretical mathematician to figure out how that works. Start with more stuff, end with more stuff. Sure, people can lose it. But I don’t see that happening too much.
It’s difficult for me to not feel disgust and contempt towards these people. There is no logical reason why they should think themselves better than others. And yet I live in a world where these people get to look down on everything else they can lay eyes upon.
And just like in video games, wealth doesn’t equal skill.
I have known some wealthy people who are decent and upstanding and immune to the failings of their economic and social equals. But many others are the ones who write the rules in my country. They are the ones who control how wealth flows, into what hands, at what volume. These people cannot do what they ask of others, and often they cannot imagine what they are asking of everyone else across the globe.
If I’m being honest, this makes me a little angry. These people are immune to the consequences of their actions for no reason other than they have control over stuff. Too many others are stuck in their homes they might be about to lose, working jobs they can barely afford to keep, all so they can make it through one more day of misery and pain.
But people will keep playing the game, because every once in a while, a person wins big. Then they can buy fancy stuff, and live in isolation from the world. And their kids won’t have to know what it was like to be afraid and uncertain.