American satire for the social-media soul

American satire for the social-media soul

Satire is good for the soul, and writing a bit of it today has been jarring.

There are fewer things worse than a bad take, but what’s worse is when that bad take is shared in a social-media post 100k times until the words blur when it pops up again, blurring until I no longer can see anything in front of me but the half-caf double vanilla latte I am “supposedly” consuming in entitled prosperity. Thank you to my friends for their words where needed. (You know who you are.)

(Satire: the use of humor, irony, exaggeration or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. Or think a hilarious Saturday Night Live take, except sometimes unflinchingly true.)

Here is a well-written take by a 26-year-old woman who graduated high school. This is her perspective:

I’m sitting in my car outside a cool new coffee shop, wishing I could afford that pricey coffee in the heavy-duty cups with my name written in sharpie. I scroll through my newsfeed on my prepaid phone line hoping I don’t run out of data. I see lots of news on the presidential race, people talking sideways about fixing injustice. I put my phone on the seat and look around.

People are chatting freely, but with worry etched on their faces, wondering if their cars will make it through the winter without needing new brakes or god-forbid a new transmission. Toddlers are holding tightly to their parent’s hands, and I know that mom in the red coat is wondering where she will get shoes for her kid’s feet that have already outgrown the ones she’s wearing. We live in the most prosperous and privileged nation on earth and have become completely blind to those around us.

I’m so thankful for the dollar menu at fast-food places some days. I’m also thankful for dollar stores that allow us to be able to live week to week without breaking the bank. The USA is so well off that our poverty line begins 31 times above the global average, yet our minimum wage hasn’t risen in forever. By the world’s standards no one in the U.S. is considered poor, but these types of stores are more plentiful and frequented than ever.

I don’t shop much online, and packages from Amazon have never piled up at my door. I’m grateful for the three jobs I work to keep us warm and dry yet wish that what I made per hour could allow me to work one job so I could see my family more. I’m a millennial, and I’ve yet to see what people mean when they say “American prosperity.”

I can’t feel prosperous with a mouth full of rotten teeth I can’t afford to fix, ones that will eventually make my life expectancy decline rapidly. Outside the bubble of American prosperity, deep in the middle of the rural USA, is where people die from disease there is no money to treat or fix. Most insurance that could help me is out of reach because I work three jobs, and it’s disdained by those that think I would be leeching off the system.

I couldn’t afford college, yet my generation — the hidden one that lives in the shadows of the half-caf double vanilla latte coffee shops — is being blamed for being lazy and entitled. I haven’t seen prosperity. Capitalism cannot help those with no bootstraps to pull up. My generation has lived through endless wars in the Middle East, a great recession and stagnant wages, none of which creates feelings of prosperity inside me.

Yes, we don’t know what it’s like to live life without internet and smartphones, but those things don’t signal prosperity. Maybe, just maybe (whispers softly), the people who are struggling aren’t sitting with you in the coffee shop?

Maybe they’re in their car outside struggling in between job shifts, a bag of food from the food pantry beside them, sipping on a 99-cent fast-food coffee so they can stay awake for their next minimum-wage job they’re supposed to be endlessly grateful for. Maybe they’re figuring out how they’ll pay medical bills with money they don’t have. Maybe they’re figuring out a way to take some classes to learn a trade and hopefully not spiral into the smothering debt that college can create.

We don’t live in a prosperous country where my generation is entitled and vapid. We live in a bubble, wrapped in blindness that only sees what superficially touches us. #pleasesharewidely

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