Nobody chooses the circumstances they’re born into – including the rich
In our new Class Ceiling series, we unpack how class actually affects young people today – from our jobs, to the way we have sex, to our general experience of the world.
Nobody chooses the circumstances they’re born into. We often circle back to this sad truth in discussions about privilege in order to draw attention to the fact that injustices like poverty, sexism, and racism are so unfair precisely because we have no control over certain aspects of our identity – and rightfully so.
But we rarely talk about what it’s like to be born rich. Obviously, nobody is going to play a tiny violin for anyone sitting on a six-figure trust fund – nor should they – but the fact remains that people who are born into money didn’t choose to be.
In an ideal society, there wouldn’t be such a gaping gulf between the rich and poor. Arguably there wouldn’t be any gulf at all. But, unfortunately, at present, we don’t live in an ideal society. We live in a society where the gap between rich and poor is widening and people think it’s good and sustainable, actually, for poor people to eat plain pasta for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
So while we wait for radical change, how should rich people behave? How should you navigate being privileged? It’s not that simple: for instance, you shouldn’t try to hide your wealth, but being too honest is just vulgar. You should also be self-aware, but equally, vocally self-flagellating whenever you buy a new pair of shoes is gauche and weird.
Evidently, it’s really tough to be hideously wealthy. But not to worry – here’s a guide to being nice and normal for anyone who has tonnes of money.
Your generosity should be proportionate to your wealth. If you’re worth $600 million like Dolly Parton, fund COVID-19 vaccine research like she did. If your parents give you an ‘allowance’ past the age of 15, let it go when your mate who always struggles to pay rent forgets to pay you back the £5 they owe you.
Nobody is expecting you to single-handedly end world hunger, but you could make a conscious effort to not be so stingy.
DON’T BE A LANDLORD
By all means, buy a house. Go ahead and buy a really, really nice house with seven bedrooms and a tasteful gravel driveway. Coat the walls with Farrow & Ball paint and source a gorgeous vintage rug from Morocco for the living room. I would love that for you.
Don’t buy ten dilapidated houses and force people less fortunate than you to fork over 75 per cent of their income just to live in a storage cupboard that you’ve “converted” into a “bedroom”. And for the love of God, don’t make obscene TikToks patting yourself on the back for doing this.
DON’T VOTE TORY
Nobody will call you a “champagne socialist” or accuse you of “virtue-signalling” if you vote for a party that aims to protect and uplift people who are worse off than you. Sure, you’d probably have to pay more tax under a more progressive government, but at least fewer people would be living in poverty. It’s called “empathy”.
DON’T BE A TERF
To quote this tweet: “If I were JK Rowling and had secured the bag in such a ludicrous way, you’d never hear from me again. No more books, no tweets, just chilling in my mansion eating Kettle crisps, taking nine long-haul holidays a year.”
BE A BIT OF A MESS
It’s difficult to warm to anyone who seems to live a perfect life, and even more so if you’ve got bags of money. So if you’re rich, being a little vulnerable and chaotic and messy is a great way to seem more human.
That said, don’t try too hard to be ‘relatable’. It’s bad enough having to listen to celebrities shoehorn references to pizza and sweatpants and beer into every interview. Be a mess, but a glamorous mess. Get a £500 Uber across the country just for a hook-up. Swig straight from a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Buy everyone coke. Act like you’re being papped by the Cobrasnake.
The fact that nigella Lawson did coke is hot— Jessi rihanna (@Jessi_Rihanna) February 10, 2019
DON’T BUY A HARRY POTTER DOORMAT
If you buy a house for £4 million, don’t ruin it with a monstrosity of a doormat like Molly-Mae did. Please, for the love of God.
Arguably, the most important part of being wealthy is owning it. The British love to hate the rich, so it’s understandable that most well-off people want to distance themselves from their richness. It’s why they gibber about their private school scholarships or furtively hide their Ocado deliveries or slur their words to mask their crisp, RP accents.
But what’s more embarrassing than being rich is being rich and pretending to be poor. So fuck it, be rich. If you got an internship somewhere because your uncle is the managing director, just say so. If you want to go to Waitrose because dad just gave you your £500 allowance, go ahead – and maybe pick up something nice for your flatmate while you’re there. Show your friends pictures of the swimming pool at your parents’ house and ask them if they’d like to come to visit sometime. Lend people money and forget to ask for it back.
As aforementioned, nobody chooses the circumstances they’re born into. But if you’re born rich, you’ve hit the jackpot: so act like it.