The Student Room Group

why is life so unfair? why do privileged people think of themselves higher?

I know this is a stupid question. I know it's been asked millions of times over and I should be ashamed that it only really hit me until something personally happened to me. But now that it has, I can't stop wondering why it's in human nature to feel entitled or superior due to things about them that are only a consequence of the circumstances, e.g. parents' financial capacity, where they live/were born, how healthy they are etc.

We often judge people for their superficial status for convenience, like what job they have or what school they went to, when in reality those things are hugely dependent on circumstances like the list above. No one ever cares if you didn't get that job because you got injured and disqualified, or if you didn't get into that school because you actually did but you couldn't afford it. No one finds out. Certainly not the people that did get that job or did get into that school.

Any philosophy or psychology students out there? Why is this the case? History, anthropology, classics students? Has it ever not been the case in any civilisation?
Reply 1
Because a lot of those things could have been altered due to choices.
When other people have advantages, earned or bequeathed deliberately or by consequence, other people need to try to make up for that if they hope to be truly accepted in to their circle. Because otherwise, the advantaged people will feel dragged down and no-one but teachers, family, and socialists are going to do that for long.
The thing is, the 'disadvantaged' might find that it really wasn't worth being accepted in to their circle anyway if the relationship they have feels conditional or perfunctory.
With heterosexual males, if a female is pretty and not entirely bound by allegiance to her own 'class' her past circumstances are often quite irrelevant to him in terms of his desire to be with her.
With heterosexual females, that's also true to an extent but perhaps she might more regularly go out with a less attractive male if he raises her social and financial level.
And if you study or work at the same place, the barriers become less than ever before.
Everyone can be physically attractive to others too if they keep healthy and exercised, dress well, and have a good manner and appropriate sense of humour for their 'audience'.
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 2
How do you come to the assertion that 'privileged people think of themselves 'higher'? Do they really? Are you sure?

Higher than what? Life is infinitely unfair. But it depends how you define 'unfair' We are all naturally born to inequality and each have a random set of strengths and weaknesses. Despite some people believing they can create equality by draconian and oppressive means there is no evidence to show that this has any effect on equality in life. That all depends how you use any skill or ability in life. Life is dreadfully unfair, and no more so in death, or worse a living death. The moment you are born you will die; but when you will die in this life is a lottery. That depends on the ultimate genetic roulette game - The starter for six of your genetic makeup giving you enhanced or regressive traits - such as intelligence, resilience, ingenuity, hope, or maybe a predisposition to disease and depression? Your attitude to risk is also a precursor to an early death.

How do you define privileged? You can be so poor you have nothing but the clothes you stand up in. Yet you could have a calm pragmatic mind, be so glad to be alive and have an unstructured life free of clutter and worry. Is that privileged? You can be a drug user and spend hours of your life letting time go by wasted because you want the mellow unthinking zone. Is that privileged? Every action has a consequence. You can have all the materialistic possessions in the world, because the adverts assure you tell that means you will be happy. Privileged? Or just envy?
Reply 3
Hi thank you both for the responses, honestly I hadn't expected to get any!
I guess I didn't think too deeply about the definitions of fairness or privilege
Picnicl, thank you for the reminder that there are many things which make up who you are that are down to choice, like your physical appearance (more or less lol).
Muttly, thank you for flagging some great questions like what privilege means. I used it to mean advantage, which admittedly is rather broad. In my case, my "disadvantage" is a huge part of who I am and I wouldn't want to take it away so I wouldn't say it's envy I felt. But you've put what I wanted to get at so accurately, which is that life is infinitely unfair and we have to learn to live with it if we want to live a happy life. Thank you, again!
Reply 4
Original post by olivier_
I know this is a stupid question. I know it's been asked millions of times over and I should be ashamed that it only really hit me until something personally happened to me. But now that it has, I can't stop wondering why it's in human nature to feel entitled or superior due to things about them that are only a consequence of the circumstances, e.g. parents' financial capacity, where they live/were born, how healthy they are etc.

We often judge people for their superficial status for convenience, like what job they have or what school they went to, when in reality those things are hugely dependent on circumstances like the list above. No one ever cares if you didn't get that job because you got injured and disqualified, or if you didn't get into that school because you actually did but you couldn't afford it. No one finds out. Certainly not the people that did get that job or did get into that school.

Any philosophy or psychology students out there? Why is this the case? History, anthropology, classics students? Has it ever not been the case in any civilisation?
Nope, its just human nature. We like to put people into boxes, not unreasonably. Be it someone with the most dead mammoths to their name, the biggest ****, wallet or number of 'things'. People will always judge and assign based on various considerations.
That being said, its not necessarily a bad thing, life would be infinitely worse if everyone viewed each other exactly the same. It might not be 'fair' but it works better. i.e. a doctor is self evidently deserving of more respect than a vagrant iterant thief or someone of a similar ilk
Original post by olivier_
I know this is a stupid question. I know it's been asked millions of times over and I should be ashamed that it only really hit me until something personally happened to me. But now that it has, I can't stop wondering why it's in human nature to feel entitled or superior due to things about them that are only a consequence of the circumstances, e.g. parents' financial capacity, where they live/were born, how healthy they are etc.

We often judge people for their superficial status for convenience, like what job they have or what school they went to, when in reality those things are hugely dependent on circumstances like the list above. No one ever cares if you didn't get that job because you got injured and disqualified, or if you didn't get into that school because you actually did but you couldn't afford it. No one finds out. Certainly not the people that did get that job or did get into that school.

Any philosophy or psychology students out there? Why is this the case? History, anthropology, classics students? Has it ever not been the case in any civilisation?
From a philosophical standpoint, it's because life is inherently absurd. I do think though, that we can never truly know the extent in which something is fair or not, because all of our actions have an effect, even though we can't see it, it's sort of a futile argument of nature vs nurture, we can't pinpoint where justice actually starts and ends.

Socially, well... unfortunately there is a lot of truth to socioeconomic backgrounds creating a disparity in privilege, especially with marginalised communities and that's completely the fault of the people at power. This could've been contradicted using equity and supplying benefits to those who need them - but the government continuously take money out of these benefits. However, it is certainly more complex than that, especially due to politics. But seeing the way the world is going, it's mostly due the the richest and most corrupt. I mean top 2 percent rich by the way with more money than civilisations can even spend, not someone who worked for it, even with privilege.

There's this weird inverse proportion wherein the harder somebody works, the poorer they tend to be so meritocracy is a compete sham half the time. But the ways in which people work can be different, one may use their physical strength, another may use their mind, plus we are born with advantages inherent to us, however it is important that the most powerful people are level-headed and do things for the collective betterment of society which simply isn't happening.

Short answer: It's ******* complex and the idea of "fairness" and "justice" is probably a social contract anyway lol

Hope ur doing alright tho :smile:
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 6
@ wowzapollowza
Socially, well... unfortunately there is a lot of truth to socioeconomic backgrounds creating a disparity in privilege, especially with marginalised communities and that's completely the fault of the people at power.

I would agree with you to a certain extent. But I don't think you can completely lay the blame for unfair privilege at the doors of the 'people at power' - They certainly have a great deal to answer for (that includes all political parties with ideological short term thinking desperate to remain in power who attempt to 'buy' votes) Every political party now fails ordinary people.

I agree with you when you say it's complex and fairness and justice is a social contract. Drug users network with drug users so hardly any social mobility there (with a few exceptions). Privileged school pupils associate with 'well to do' school pupil and the networks give advantage from those connections. Trying to stop that happening is the politics of envy. Accepting inequality is part of life and competition is good is a helpful base to work from. Retain that which works well and build on it.

The UK used to have a society where fairness and justice were important components of a peaceful orderly social contract (the contract with the state) You worked, you got paid, you had enough to eat and you had a roof over your head. People did not exploit the welfare system. If you worked hard it was rewarded by gaining money to buy into goods that were surplus to a basic existence lifestyle (here lies some disparity over the definition of poverty) If you had no money you were frugal. If you could not work you had minimal welfare support and charities supported you. The social rule of law was enforced by police with independence and common sense. Not by a politicised police force, directed how to react with virtue signalling and a criminal justice system that does not protect the weak from the corrupt and the criminal.

So how has this once peaceful orderly society disintegrated to a high crime, selfish society where 'rich' people are scorned and envied (unless they are pop stars, footballers or actors) Scorned by those who do not have as much money as those they see as 'privileged'? Our population has been allowed to massively balloon without the money put in to support infrastructure and services required. That is now part of the problem, an excessive population which is also part of the severe climate problem.

In short - it is the determined efforts of successive governments to overpay the ruling elite that is the problem. The state now pays its citizens to be idle and to be beholden to the state. It has created a state reliant on finance as a main source of GDP to fund its services. It is a state that has lost control of its security and its borders and has no public money to do anything about it. It is a state desperate to control the image it portrays, so has muzzled the public services with threats of being sacked not to speak of public policy failure and problems at the operational sharp end. Any prime minister brave enough to deal with the vast debts incurred by successive government failure to control spending has been ousted by a cabal of people whose aim is to remain in control of both finances and the state.

Now ordinary people can work very hard, pay dearly by being taxed at every level to support those who choose not to work. It doesn't pay to have any assets or money because the state wants it to give away to every vote winning undeserving cause.

We need a national lottery to save our public services. We need an immediate removal of vast salaries for people in management empires in public office. A prohibition on severance packages for people in public office which pay out eye watering lump sums. That would be a start and a way to remove 'privilege'
(edited 1 month ago)
Original post by Muttly
@ wowzapollowza
Socially, well... unfortunately there is a lot of truth to socioeconomic backgrounds creating a disparity in privilege, especially with marginalised communities and that's completely the fault of the people at power.

I would agree with you to a certain extent. But I don't think you can completely lay the blame for unfair privilege at the doors of the 'people at power' - They certainly have a great deal to answer for (that includes all political parties with ideological short term thinking desperate to remain in power who attempt to 'buy' votes) Every political party now fails ordinary people.

I agree with you when you say it's complex and fairness and justice is a social contract. Drug users network with drug users so hardly any social mobility there (with a few exceptions). Privileged school pupils associate with 'well to do' school pupil and the networks give advantage from those connections. Trying to stop that happening is the politics of envy. Accepting inequality is part of life and competition is good is a helpful base to work from. Retain that which works well and build on it.

The UK used to have a society where fairness and justice were important components of a peaceful orderly social contract (the contract with the state) You worked, you got paid, you had enough to eat and you had a roof over your head. People did not exploit the welfare system. If you worked hard it was rewarded by gaining money to buy into goods that were surplus to a basic existence lifestyle (here lies some disparity over the definition of poverty) If you had no money you were frugal. If you could not work you had minimal welfare support and charities supported you. The social rule of law was enforced by police with independence and common sense. Not by a politicised police force, directed how to react with virtue signalling and a criminal justice system that does not protect the weak from the corrupt and the criminal.

So how has this once peaceful orderly society disintegrated to a high crime, selfish society where 'rich' people are scorned and envied (unless they are pop stars, footballers or actors) Scorned by those who do not have as much money as those they see as 'privileged'? Our population has been allowed to massively balloon without the money put in to support infrastructure and services required. That is now part of the problem, an excessive population which is also part of the severe climate problem.

In short - it is the determined efforts of successive governments to overpay the ruling elite that is the problem. The state now pays its citizens to be idle and to be beholden to the state. It has created a state reliant on finance as a main source of GDP to fund its services. It is a state that has lost control of its security and its borders and has no public money to do anything about it. It is a state desperate to control the image it portrays, so has muzzled the public services with threats of being sacked not to speak of public policy failure and problems at the operational sharp end. Any prime minister brave enough to deal with the vast debts incurred by successive government failure to control spending has been ousted by a cabal of people whose aim is to remain in control of both finances and the state.

Now ordinary people can work very hard, pay dearly by being taxed at every level to support those who choose not to work. It doesn't pay to have any assets or money because the state wants it to give away to every vote winning undeserving cause.

We need a national lottery to save our public services. We need an immediate removal of vast salaries for people in management empires in public office. A prohibition on severance packages for people in public office which pay out eye watering lump sums. That would be a start and a way to remove 'privilege'
Oh for sure! It's more complex than that and yeah, I wasn't thinking very straight when I laid all blame on the richest of the rich as it is not entirely one parties fault. I think society can and probably should operate for some form on inequality and I think it's completely okay for economic downturns to happen as such is the way of life. However it gets depressing when alot of people are going under and two incomes are not able to afford a child's care. Plus Britain has been knocked with crises after crises and I have fellow classmates who are very bright but terribly affected by this stuff and naturally do worse.

Yes, do you think we should have a certain ceiling for how high a salary should go? I suppose that would be enforced in taxes, but I swear to god these people are doing anything to dodge them.

It's honestly a real shame, and the situation will only decline. Do you reckon there's a way things'll improve at some point? I'm guessing it only will when public outrage gets to a point when it's not able to be ignored but I'm not too sure, honestly.

Have a good one :smile:

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