Beware The Dumb Clickbait Scam Of 'Poor' Rich People
While a lot of you in the comments seem to be making up to $76 an hour working from home, for a lot of people, times are tough. But while the average Millennial is wondering how they're going to afford both rent and food while being paid in exposure as a 70-hour barista intern, CNBC has asked us to not lose perspective, have a heart, and remember the people out there who have it much harder than we do. Specifically, couples who make a half a million dollars a year, but spend so much on clothes that they can't afford to save.
This week, the internet went into a bit of a class warfare tizzy over a tweet about the budgeting woes of a rich New York power couple. They make $500,000 a year, but feel like they're just average schmoes because they only save a paltry $7,300. Of course, people were quick to point out that their woes weren't average at all, what with most of that money going to things like paying off their $1.5 million home, dropping almost $10k to have their two luxury cars not move an inch on NYC's congested streets, and $12,000 on music lessons so their kids can play all those tiny violins people will be sending their way.
Understandably, CNBC seemingly wanting us to sympathize with two Mr. Monopolies wiping their brows with $100 bills and lamenting how they're just like poor people drew a lot of mockery. Something their newsroom surely saw coming, seeing as they've pulled the same trick several times before. This story dates back all the way to 2015, when it was written up on the blog Financial Samurai, which treats it with a lot more nuance and insight. But since then, CNBC seems have been republishing their own reporting on it every single year or so, just so people can blow a gasket all over again.
In fact, budget baiting (articles about wildly unrealistic budget stories that are clearly made for you to hate them) seems be a new type of clickbait that's becoming more and more popular. Last summer, Refinery29 posted a budget blog on a mythic intern who was supposedly living large in New York on only a $25/hour salary, only to have it revealed in the post that she relied so heavily on her parents to run her life that they might as well had made a second child just to serve as a spare organ farm. And last December, CNBC posted a pie chart about a plucky Millennial entrepreneur who was somehow making $100k a year because he wasn't as lazy or wasteful as you. Hell, The New York Times has an entire recurring column devoted to this particular genre of hate read. Each time, people got upset. Each time, people kept clicking.
So while the subjects vary in supposed wealth, the setup is always the same. Step 1: Make an outrageous personal claim that makes the reader immediately feel like they're either a poor pleb who doesn't know how hard it is to be successful, or a slouch unwilling to sleep in a pile with seven other tech bros to save up for your Scrooge McDuck coin pond. Step 2: Scapegoat the subject by slowly revealing in the article itself why their lifestyle is total rich people bullshit. Step 3: Profit as thousands of angry readers scroll past every ad like a poverty detective trying to comfort themselves with the realization that it's still all-upper-middle-class privilege that is making it happen. And since these articles go viral so quickly and so potently, best hold onto that hate fuel, because a lot more of these are likely on the way.
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