People love to play the victim these days. And why not? There are plenty of roles to go around. Be it a con artist preying on the kindness of others or a natural disaster wreaking havoc where it doesn't usually wreak, there seems to be an endless supply of new and exciting ways to turn regular people into marks and statistics.
It's in these moments of unexpected adversity when the best in people should (and usually does) shine through in the form of support for those who are legitimately suffering. That said, our sympathy is getting spread a bit thin. There's a lot of misery in this world and, sad as it is, we just can't feel sorry for everyone.
With that in mind, it's time to start applying some filters, and I think I have a few good places to start. Here are four "victims" we see all the time who no longer deserve our sympathy.
#4. People Who Get Stranded While On Absurd Adventures
Remember Abby Sunderland? In 2010, she attempted to become the first person under the age of 18 to sail around the world solo. She departed from Marina del Rey, California on January 23, 2010 with plans to complete the journey without stopping. Those plans hit a proverbial iceberg when electrical problems forced her to stop in Cabo San Lucas. That's in Mexico, which is basically California with fewer Mexicans, so in terms of a trip around the world, she barely even made it out the front door. Nevertheless, she decided to give it another shot, restarting the trip from Mexico.
Except on water!
Doomed to fail? Of course it was! To the determined youngster's credit, she made it as far as Cape Town, South Africa this time before the need for repairs forced her to stop. Still undeterred, she decided to continue her journey unassisted even if she wouldn't be able to say it was completed without stopping, because that's still a pretty cool thing to be able to say you did as a teen.
Here's the thing, though, it's not the public's responsibility to make sure teens get to do cool shit. So when Abby Sunderland finally failed in a more catastrophic, "stranded in the Indian Ocean" kind of way, why was it the public's responsibility to see to it that she was rescued?
Helicopters aren't free.
Before you get your pitchforks out, please understand, I'm not saying she shouldn't have been helped at all. Of course you send someone out to save her, she's still technically a kid. I am, however, saying that's why you save her. It's not her fault her parents don't give a shit if she dies in the ocean. If you're an adult who willingly puts yourself in the path of danger just to accomplish some worthless goal, though, I'm less sold on the idea that you deserve public intervention. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but nobody asked you to sail around the world, buddy. We haven't needed your kind of services since spices were hard to come by.
You could start wars with these when people were poor and stupid.
At the very least, you should be required to reimburse whatever taxpayer money goes into saving your ass. That's what bothered so many people about the Abby Sunderland fiasco. It's estimated that between $200,000 - $300,000 went into the rescue efforts, and her family offered to pay back not a single dime. That's a problem. If you have the money to build a boat that you even think is capable of traveling around the globe without stopping, you have the $200,000 to pay for your rescue efforts when you fail.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say you should be required to prove you can help finance your own rescue efforts if shit goes haywire. If you only have enough money to get yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere, you don't have enough money to make the trip, period.
Good luck telling that to the Sunderland family, though. Not only did they not bother paying anything back, they actually had the gall to ask for donations to recover Abby Sunderland's boat after it had to be abandoned. That takes just a bit more nerve than sailing around the world by yourself.
And it gets better! It's not just overambitious teens who routinely ask for undeserved help. The US Navy and Coast Guard estimate they've spent a combined $4.2 million towing just two Carnival cruise ships, the inappropriately named Triumph and Splendor, to safety over the years. When the government asked them to consider paying some of that money back, the beleaguered travel giant responded with this:
Jeff Gammons/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"Carnival's policy is to honor maritime tradition that holds that the duty to render assistance at sea to those in need is a universal obligation of the entire maritime community."
Translation: You have to save us and we owe you nothing.
On the bright side, even though most of their cruises depart from Miami, they're incorporated outside the country, so they also don't have to pay taxes.
#3. People Who Visit Unlicensed Plastic Surgeons
Right off the bat, I want to apologize for how long that first entry was. There are a lot of words there. Over 670, to be sort of exact. I've written entire articles that have fewer words. The one I linked to there in order to make my point isn't one of them, but it's close enough. And besides, Heidi Klum, right?
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
Right, and that's a really strong segue to the point I want to briefly (for a refreshing change of pace) make here, which is that it's time to stop feeling sorry for people who do things like this to their face.
That's Priscilla Presley who, as you might have noticed, has destroyed her once lovely face in ways age alone never could. Or, more accurately, she paid someone to do it for her.
Now, I have all the sympathy in the world for someone who goes to a legitimate medical professional to have a procedure done, cosmetic or otherwise, and winds up getting maimed in the face. That's sad, but it's also not what Priscilla Presley did. Her procedure was done at the home of Lionel Richie's former wife by some Argentinian dude who charged women with too much money $300 - $500 a pop to inject silicon goo directly into their lips. Shockingly, it turned out to be a scam. The substance he was injecting the women with was an automotive grade lubricant used to keep engine parts running smoothly in Argentina.
Engines run in the opposite direction there.
Look, you wouldn't expect quality dental care from some dude at a party just because he was wearing scrubs and had a clean pair of pliers. Why are you letting anyone inject anything into anywhere on your body if you don't know for sure that they're a trained medical professional? That's what people in the worst throes of heroin addiction do, and the accepted rules of society dictate that we don't feel sorry for people who make such shitty decisions. It's that simple.