Lessons On Sister Kicking

I first heard of Talia Jane’s tale of woe from Keith Lee, who later wrote about it.  My sense was that it would be wrong to kick her when she was down. Sure, it was a product of poor choices, and she was certainly the poster girl for entitlement, but still. She was sad and pathetic, and being misguided and entitled isn’t a crime.

Coming out of college without much more than freelancing and tutoring under my belt, I felt it was fair that I start out working in the customer support section of Yelp/Eat24 before I’d be qualified to transfer to media. Then, after I had moved and got firmly stuck in this apartment with this debt, I was told I’d have to work in support for an entire year before I would be able to move to a different department. A whole year answering calls and talking to customers just for the hope that someday I’d be able to make memes and twitter jokes about food. If you follow me on twitter, which you don’t, you’d know that these are things I already do. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s get back to the situation at hand, shall we?

So here I am, 25-years old, balancing all sorts of debt and trying to pave a life for myself that doesn’t involve crying in the bathtub every week.

Keith explained it thus:

Every stereotypical thing wrong with Millennials you’ve ever read. The writer:

  • Moves from modest area of the country, to the most expensive.
  • Has useless degree, surprised it only qualified her for entry level job.
  • Whines about entry level job, not being paid 6 figures to make meme jokes.
  • Claims she can’t afford food, her Insta is filled with big meals.
  • Complains work-provided snacks are not refilled on the weekends.
  • Writes open letter to CEO full of her “amazing ideas,” surprised she is fired.
  • Works at low-level job for less than a year, is complaining on Twitter about getting her “severance.”
  • Signs off with e-begging.

I can’t even.

The problem isn’t so much with her choices, but her complaining about the natural consequences of her choices.  Some of these may have valid reasons, such as food pics on “Insta,” which may contradict her claims or may have a perfectly valid explanation. No matter. Keith “can’t even.” I can “even” a little more, largely because Talia Jane isn’t much different than many young people I’ve met. Perfectly nice young people. Well educated young people. Passionate young people. And sad and pathetic young people when life didn’t work out the way they were certain it would. Certain, because, well they were entitled to it.

Then another young woman, Stefanie Williams, replied to Talia Jane. Unkindly, perhaps, but not without reason and some advice. Like Talia, things didn’t work out well at first, so she worked hard and, eventually, did better.

Six months later, I was offered the weekend bartending shifts for the month of December. Long hours, lots of stress, I smelled like bad citrus and stale beer most of the time, I had to miss Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years Eve with my family and friends, but I jumped at the opportunity. And all of a sudden, after about a year, I was making enough money to live. And after several years, I was making enough money to live well.

Hard work, sacrifice and it turned out okay. That’s nice for you.  But yet another woman, Sara Lynn Michener, decided to make it a trilogy on Medium.

After reading your bizarre excuse for a mini autobiography detailing the privileged yet banal struggle you dealt with in your early 20s, which was apparently supposed to be a response to a younger woman’s perfectly reasonable request for a larger hourly rate, I felt it imperative to give you a taste of your own medicine and above all, your painfully deep need to acknowledge your own privilege, so maybe some advice will help while you piss all over what — to me — sounds an awful lot like a less fortunate (and far kinder) version of your younger self. If nothing else, I hope you might learn the meaning of the “grace and humility.” you’ve anointed yourself with.

Spoiler: kicking a younger sister when she’s down in self-congratulatory snark is neither gracious nor humble.

While I was a bit put off by the “kicking a younger sister” bit, as if women should be kinder to their own gender, what I found most disturbing was Michener’s title:

36 year-old DESTROYS 29-year-old millennial who “ripped” 25-year-old Yelp employee who got fired after complaining about her salary

Apparently, Michener thought rather well of her effort. But she called Williams “privileged,” and that’s what prompted me to write about this.

Some of us don’t have mothers at all. But not you. Only privileged people are embarrassed to be working as a waitress because their very present mothers are waiting there, full of love, for you to blossom (in your case into a snarky self-satisfied prat).

And:

I can’t even imagine what life must be like for people that privileged. Perhaps you are one of those people, Stefanie. It would explain a lot about how you OWN every single one of your blessings and label it as “having a work ethic” But I don’t see any more of a work ethic than what Talia has. You were willing to work a shitty job; You want a medal for it. Talia just wants to eat.

What to make of all this? The word “privilege” has been used as an attack and excuse. It seems to be what some have and others want, and still others demand it be given up, though it makes little sense, as if making one’s life harder is a wise, or even a realistic, choice. Especially at a time when things are hard for everyone.

There’s room for empathy. There’s also room for a reminder about the value of hard work, smart choices, realistic thinking and recognition that you’re promised the opportunity to pursue happiness, not a right to obtain it.

Don’t kick Talia Jane when she’s down. Don’t rub her tummy as if she had no hand in creating her circumstances either. And if you want to help Talia Jane, help her to see the error of her misguided sense of entitlement rather than make excuses for her victimhood.  Talia Jane needs to eat. She can’t eat excuses. I wish her the best of luck in her quest to find a fulfilling life.  And if she has some “privilege” upon which to draw, I hope she does so successfully.

 

33 comments on “Lessons On Sister Kicking

  1. Patrick Maupin

    What Talia needs probably isn’t found on the internet.

    Which came first, the steep decline in practical mentoring, or the steep increase in sense of entitlement?

    Either way, it’s a vicious circle.

    1. SHG Post author

      I’m a great believer in mentoring. It requires both a good mentor and a good mentee. My experience is that both are hard to find.

      1. John Barleycorn

        Trick or treat, what cave? Nation wide….

        Pay attention and get out of your “house” more often.

        Oh yeah, you almost said something. Perfect?

        And this has been going on for some time.

        FFF.

        Chill, its only p r I s o n, But….

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOYoM1mEL0Q

        If only.

        oh yeah! That thing too.

        What is that thing?

        You know what it is….

  2. ShelbyC

    We need to be careful. Entitled people vote, and when enough entitled people vote, we end up like the social democracies of Europe, where much more effort is spent on political arguments about why the government should give us more stuff, than on actually making stuff.

    1. SHG Post author

      For some people to take, someone else has to give. Eventually, they’ll figure that out. Hopefully, before too much damage is done.

  3. mb

    What’s really amazing is the solipsism displayed by all three. Only Stephanie has outgrown a part of it. Neither Talia nor Sara seems to understand where food, clothing, housing, transportation, energy, or automated communications come from, and Stephanie was no different a few years ago. None of them have ever done any of the kind of work that produces those goods, and only one has now figured out that she has to trade something that is valued by people who do that work.

    I have done that kind of work, and while there may be a million Talias and Stephanies in San Francisco making jokes and memes on twitter, I can confirm that there are zero of them on someone else’s roof in a hundred and ten degree heat index. The question then, is what are any of them doing that someone like me would pay for. Jokes, memes, and quotations from Chaucer? meh. (maybe if they were topless) Complaints about “privilege” and demands for a “living wage”? Fuck off. Friendly service and nice, strong drink? Yeah, I’ll pay for that. You do enough of that and we’ll grow all your food, build your housing and infrastructure and lots of other nice things. That’s why Stephanie has grown into a nice, successful lady, who is proud of what she has and optimistic about what she can do while the other two are self absorbed human garbage, and no one would be worse off if they both died in a fire today.

    1. Noxx

      “Maybe if they were topless”?

      That sucks. That sucks for those of us who would like castigate these idiots for being idiots, without spinning down to the Beavis level of “heh. Boobies.”

      Your stupid criticism devalues real criticism. Stop it.

      1. mb

        What value do you think your criticism actually has? These people aren’t going to realize that they hate the people who feed, clothe, and house them and keep them safe even if they happen to read my comment (which they won’t) whether it included that parenthetical or not. Far from a lazy, juvenile joke about boobs, the portion of my comment that you object to was specifically included in order to point out that there’s a lot of ways people can get the resources they need and want without doing the work that produces those resources. The value in that is that it causes outrage in those who dislike the reality that guys will work and produce and trade the products of our labor just to look at women. People who get outraged at reality can’t be reasoned with, and should only ever be made fun of, the more insulting and humiliating the better. But apparently I’ve harmed your feelz, so I would just like to say that I’m deeply, truly sorry about that, I appreciate your input and I understand that you’re a much more moral person than I am.

        1. david

          I think you and I need to go have a drink sometime. Maybe invite that Maupin character too. I’ll bring the dollar bills _insert emoji of choice_

      2. Patrick Maupin

        It must be people like you who run the rest of the internet that mb is banned from.

        The insight that there are (reasonably well-paying, in some cases) jobs where some members of the fairer sex can get paid for not much more than showing their boobies (and continue to get paid even if they suffer the compulsion to quote Chaucer), is not new, should not be controversial, and doesn’t invalidate any criticism about how the best way to make money is to figure out how to do something that others will find useful.

        If you didn’t like that, for sure don’t go look up Cracked’s “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person.”

        As far as mb’s comment itself, there is one part of it I disagree with — the parents of these non-quite-adults, patiently waiting for them to grow up, probably would be worse off with that fire.

        1. SHG Post author

          I appreciate both mb’s point as well as Noxx’s. It’s all too easy for these discussions to devolve into infantile “sexist” rants, which is counterproductive and kills serious discussion. But that wasn’t what mb did, so now we’re past it.

  4. DaveL

    Apparently, having a mother means you’re privileged. Being able to go to college, and having the luxury of selecting a major without reference to economic returns, apparently does not. Having the expectation of being able to live comfortably in the most expensive market in America off your first job out of college, apparently doesn’t mean you’re privileged, either.

    1. SHG Post author

      To the extent I understand the current use of “privileged,” it’s reduced to an irrational, meaningless slur. Why it should be a negative eludes me. Why one thing is a privilege when another is not eludes me as well. But then, that’s why it’s reduced to another empty word.

      1. David M.

        Privileged is something for Millennials to call other Millennials. Entitled is a bad word mean olds use when they want to hate on us.

        Anyone who doesn’t get it is [ableist slur].

  5. Vin

    I cleaned a bakery floor nights to make ends meet after graduating with a Masters in accounting working full time at a CPA firm. I firmly agree with the notion that youngsters need to find a way, whatever that way is, to make their own way.

    But I also think for a variety of reasons that CEO’s get paid too much on the scale of low level workers to top level corporate leaders. Life would be better for all concerned if business owners spread the wealth a bit more uniformly.

  6. Erik H.

    I’m with you. She’s 25. She made some stupid mistakes, she’s getting slammed for it, and I hope she’ll move on. Nothing here prevents her from changing for the better. It would have been better to learn it earlier, but most folks don’t work enough these days.

    And I know of what I speak: I started work when I was 13. I’ve worked for a lot of people. And the two employers who (in retrospect) caused the greatest improvement on my life-long working habits… Both of them fired me.

    1. SHG Post author

      I held a lot of peculiar jobs as a young man, mostly because I liked to eat daily. It never occurred to me to bitch, since without work, I went hungry. I was taught anything worth doing is worth doing well. More importantly, I appreciated the fact that anyone would pay me for my services, and felt that I had an obligation to earn it. Nobody owed me anything.

      1. Mike G.

        Even though I’m a carpenter and you’re a very successful lawyer, we’re more alike than you know. ( You probably shudder at the thought.)

        I’ve done everything from recap truck tires to landscaping to waiting on tables to hustling fruit at a Farmer’s Market and a lot in between, plus 4 years of military service.

        We have a saying…”I’d pick shit with the chickens if it paid.” If only more people had that philosophy.

        1. SHG Post author

          Not surprised at all, Mike. I never had an issue with honest labor, and was happy and appreciative to be able to do it if it meant I could eat another day. Also happy that I don’t have to anymore, though I still like getting my hands dirty.

  7. Fyodor

    The elephant in the room in this whole situation is the bay area’s terrible housing policy and the insane prices that it’s spurred. They’ve barely built any new housing as people flooded the area. The average cost of a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco has more than doubled since 2009 (up 150 percent if you want to cherry pick the bottom of the recession).*

    [Ed. Note: Link deleted per rules.]

    If they had managed to keep up with population growth and kept prices at 2009 levels (which would still be objectively very expensive) this girl’s personal finances would probably be very different and we wouldn’t have to argue over whether Yelp is unjust or whether she’s a whiner.

    *It looks like she commutes from the suburbs, but the suburbs have had similar price trends, albeit starting from a lower baseline. See here for Fremont.
    [Ed. Note: This one too.]

    1. SHG Post author

      The rent in SF is neither the elephant in the room, in the room at all, nor relevant to anything. Yelp is not “unjust” because it pays minimum wage. Yelp pays what it needs to pay because it’s a business, not a charity for sad Millennial whiners, and it is able to adequately staff at the wage it pays. If it couldn’t, it would pay more.

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  9. david

    I am astounded that in this crowd, nobody has done any 4 Yorkshiremen. Google it (link deleted by me to save El Shuggo the hassle).

    Eagerly awaiting string theory maths to post comments!

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