Chrissy Teigen, a very wealthy and popular woman who, just like the rest of us, is prone to making mistakes and exercising bad judgment on occasion, recently tweeted about the time she was suckered into purchasing a bottle of wine that cost $13,000. Not surprisingly, this made some Twitter users irrationally angry.
Apparently, Chrissy Teigen now represents the worst excesses of an economy designed to favor the most privileged and fortunate among us while the rest of society limps its way through a devastating pandemic. She has become the face of everything that is wrong with a socioeconomic hierarchy on which she herself ranks near the very top, while essential workers toil away at the bottom, living paycheck to paycheck, barely scraping by. We should all be thanking our lucky stars that the raging denizens of Twitter were ready to score one for the proletariat by laying the blame for the working American’s financial woes at the feet of this dark-hearted celebrity mom and model! Whatever would we do without them?
No, I don’t have a crush on Chrissy Teigen. No, I’m not trying to get on her good side. On the contrary, I suspect that if we ever met in person, she wouldn’t like me very much, and I’m very comfortable with that. What I’m not comfortable with is the way that some people use class warfare as an excuse to lob rhetorical grenades at seemingly decent people who are guilty not of any unforgivable crimes or horrifically hateful utterances, but only of sharing tone-deaf anecdotes that, in the grand scheme of things, have zero impact on anything and will be forgotten about in very short order.
What exactly do Teigen’s most vicious critics think they accomplished by overreacting so severely to her tweet? Did ganging up on her make them feel better about themselves? I sure hope not. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t imagine deriving any satisfaction from lashing out at someone for as minor of an offense as the one Teigen committed. In fact, I’m not even convinced that she did anything wrong.
What makes it so much worse is that Teigen was openly mourning the upcoming anniversary of a recent miscarriage and preparing for surgery at the time this drama occurred. If there has ever been a more appropriate moment to put down the torches and pitchforks, I can’t think of one. Dunking on an (allegedly) insensitive celebrity is one thing. Dunking on an (allegedly) insensitive celebrity who is obviously still struggling with the loss of her unborn child and is getting ready to go under the knife seems to me to be pointlessly cruel.
To be clear, the critics who I’m referring to aren’t the ones who responded to her tweet with harmless memes or gentle reminders that maybe now isn’t the best time to share stories about blowing thousands of dollars at a fancy restaurant. When you’re a public figure with a large following, you’re going to get some criticism every now and then. There is, however, a very fine line between thoughtful criticism and the acrimonious dogpiling that Teigen was subjected to last week. I don’t object to the former, but I’m unapologetically fed up with the latter.
But look, I get it. I really do. The righteous anger and frustration that many folks are feeling, and that found its voice through the backlash to Teigen’s tweet, is entirely understandable and relatable. People are suffering. Businesses are closing. Workers are losing their jobs. It’s impossible to understate just how bad things are right now.
There were times last year when I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make the rent and had to skip a few meals here and there to keep from going over my weekly grocery budget. I cut corners to survive, just as many of my friends and relatives have had to do at various points throughout this pandemic. I’m fortunate to have kicked off the new year with some unexpected successes that have left me in a much more secure position, but I won’t soon forget how close I came to financial ruin.
But Chrissy Teigen isn’t responsible for either my suffering or yours. She’s not responsible for the decades of wage stagnation that preceded this pandemic and has made survival that much more difficult for the average American. It’s not her fault that the federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised since 2009. She didn’t create the student debt crisis or incentivize the offshoring of American manufacturing jobs. She doesn’t deserve to be villainized simply because she has found success at a time when others are struggling to make ends meet. She isn’t a modern-day Marie Antoinette, for crying out loud, and she shouldn’t be treated like one.
In other words, the problem isn’t that Chrissy Teigen has too much; it’s that the rest of us don’t have enough. And if you’re looking for someone to blame for that, you should turn your focus away from Teigen and redirect it at our nation’s ineffectual leaders and their morally bankrupt allies in the corporate world.
Why are you so bothered by this, D.A.? Why waste your time and energy defending some super rich celebrity who doesn’t even know you exist? She’s famous, wealthy, and living the high life. She doesn’t need some schlub like you to defend her.
Glad you asked, disembodied voice of unknown origins!
The answer is because I’m tired of all the bad-faith, over-the-top reactions to innocuous tweets. Twitter is infested with people who take great pleasure in making mountains out of molehills, and my patience is starting to wear thin.
And no, I don’t see it as less of a problem when it involves a celebrity. Celebrities are people, too. They have feelings, just like we do. They experience stress and anxiety, just like we do. Their fame and wealth don’t render them invincible to the agonizing effects of being targeted by social media witch hunters. That’s why my personal rule is to try to show everyone on Twitter as much grace as I’d like them to show me in the event that I ever tweet something stupid but ultimately harmless and inconsequential. I don’t always manage to stick to that rule, mind you, but I do at least make the effort.