Why Are People So Disgusting Sometimes?

One of my favorite bloggers of all times is a very talented person. Her writing is amazing, and she is a wonderful human being. I don’t know her in person but from what she writes, it is obvious that she is a strong, resilient, courageous and honest person.

She is also very sincere, and this is one of the reasons I like her blog so much. This blogger offers an unparalleled kind of honesty about her life, and that is very inspiring to me.

So when I saw a post of hers in my blogroll where she is sharing her frustration over her (very difficult) financial situation, I decided to head over to her blog and leave a comment of support. I know how hard it is to dig oneself out of financial trouble, and all one can do is offer words of support and encouragement in such a situation. I almost never comment on blogs these days because I have no time at all, but here I just wanted to say something good to this person.

When I got to the post, though, I discovered that the comments had been closed. I read the comments left there before the blogger chose to shut down the conversation and was too appalled for words. People had started chastising her in condescending and offensive ways and practically attacked somebody whose only crime was to be honest about her life. I find this completely disgusting. What’s wrong with such people? Are they so miserable in their lives that they need to pound on others to feel better about their stupid vapid  existences?

So since the comments are closed and I know she reads this blog, I want to say this to her:

Fie, you are amazing. You work extremely hard, harder than most people I know. This is a very tough situation, and it’s horribly unfair that such good, hard-working people as you and your husband should be in it. I’m sorry that some commenters were so disgusting to you. I’m sorry you have to struggle so hard. I wish you the absolute best.

Here is the post and the comments if you are interested.

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50 comments on “Why Are People So Disgusting Sometimes?

  1. Wow. Thank you, Clarissa! I cannot explain the deep depression that our finances have caused us over the years. Money almost ruined our marriage. But we were able to get through the worst of our rough marital problems and are closer now because of it. All we have is each other. We are broke, no matter how high our gross income seems to be. People don’t understand the incredibly difficult times we’ve had, because despite my openness, I haven’t shared everything. Maybe people were trying to be helpful, but ultimately, they have no clue what we’ve been through. The judgment becomes so thick that its suffocating.

    For instance, I had to go to the doctor today, but we had no money in our checking account. I have money in our savings account to pay our taxes. I had to borrow the money for our taxes from my mother. (Yes, I have to pay it back to her.) So I had to dip into our tax money in order to pay for a clinic visit and an antibiotic. Should I have not gone to the doctor? What a luxury — going to the doctor! It’s not like I’m spending money on clothes, shoes, cigarettes or alcohol. I’m spending money on legitimate things like my children (or me) going to the doctor, replacing our washer and dryer because they could not be repaired, or repairing our furnace, or purchasing a new water heater — all of which happened recently (the washer/dryer was in November, but set us back, hugely), and all of this was quite unexpected. Am I to blame for those things happening? Apparently. How dare I want the luxury of hot water and clean clothes!?! Jesus.

    I shared this post with hubby. He almost cried. Thank you for your kind words.

    • It’s having such a little cushion every month that is so difficult. And also starting to create your life and financial well-being from absolute scratch. People fixate on your current income and don’t seem to notice that this is quite recent. You spent years getting your education and getting in debt. This was unavoidable since it isn’t like you both have trust funds making life easy for you.

      How can it occur to anybody to judge people who don’t even ask anything of them and just want to share is a mystery.

      Stay strong! Your kids are very fortunate to have you working so hard to create a good life for them.

  2. I also want to add that if anybody by any chance decides to use this thread to criticize Fie or condescend to her, they will have ME to deal with. Look at the photo in the right-hand panel of this blog and be afraid, be very afraid. . .

  3. I completely agree. The comments on Fie’s post were SO off the mark. Some people can be so self righteous about debt. I am in a lot of student loan debt. But I’m a first generation American, I paid for my own undergraduate schooling, and–even though graduate school tuition was waived and I had a meager stipend– I took out loans during graduate school in order to maintain a basic standard of living. And I had one “friend” whose parents paid ENTIRELY for her undergraduate schooling and who GAVE her a down payment on her first home attempt to “coach” me on how to be “financially responsible.” I’ll spare you the details but my blood still boils about that conversation almost 5 years later.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that this was a great post. Even though I often strongly disagree with you (postdocs in the Humanities can be wonderful!!!), you care about your readers like no other blogger I can think of. So thanks for being such a great blogger. :) :)

    • A very close friend of mine that I care about deeply just got a postdoc in the Humanities, so I think I will get a chance to be convinced otherwise when I hear of her experiences. :-) :-)

      As for Fie’s post, it is so wrong to pile on a person who is sharing something painful. As you say, people come from different starting positions, and it’s just wrong to condescend to them.

  4. David Gendron: Please don’t talk about something you don’t know about. Not too long ago (when I was still single) I was making about 50K, paying less than $1000 a month in rent and barely had enough money to take the bus to school after all my bills were paid. For all practical purposes, I was broke. And I don’t even have children.

    By the time I paid for health insurance, repaid my student loan, paid a hefty Midwestern heating bill, my money was gone. Perhaps because you are Canadian and have subsidized health are and subsidized tuition, things are different for you. But it’s very possible to make a decent living and barely scrape by here in this country.

    Things for me are better now (partly because I now have a partner and splitting expenses helps enormously) but there was a time in my life when just keeping up with my basic bills was very very hard. So try not to judge.

    • “But it’s very possible to make a decent living and barely scrape by here in this country.”

      – Especially when people just started making good money after years of penury. You keep paying for the years of poverty for quite a while after you are not poor any more. Loans, credit cards, health issues – this all continues for years after you get a good salary.

      “Not too long ago (when I was still single) I was making about 50K, paying less than $1000 a month in rent and barely had enough money to take the bus to school after all my bills were paid.”

      – Yes. Same here. And it’s that horrible fear of getting some unexpected bill or expense, or developing a tooth-ache or the boots beginning to leak that you just can’t cover – that is the worst.

      • Oh God, David. And 1 person is not 4. And yes, I would have done without that MD visit, but just because I would does not mean I should.

        • According to David’s logic, the low-income people he keeps referencing should be really ashamed of themselves. I mean, people in the Congo are starving. How dare those spoiled Canadians complain in the face of this much more profound suffering?

          I don’t understand this approach where nobody should dare talk about their problems if somebody somewhere else suffers more. This is a line that was always used back in the USSR. “How dare you say you can’t work for free on Saturday because you don’t have anybody to mind your kids? Do you know how much more people are suffering in Vietnam?” This is a cheap manipulation.

  5. I have the Fie situation and it is stressful. Yet I am worse since there is money I spend and technically should not. The economies I could and theoretically ought to make would SO cut into quality of life, though, and make such a small difference financially, that I am not sure about them. I could quit the hair salon, but then I would not look nearly so right for job interviews. Etc.

    • “I could quit the hair salon, but then I would not look nearly so right for job interviews. ”

      – AND you will lose an important opportunity to engage in self-care and have a restful moment.

    • “The economies I could and theoretically ought to make would SO cut into quality of life, though, and make such a small difference financially, that I am not sure about them.”

      Exactly. That’s what also gets me. Shouldn’t a middle class salary get me at least grant someone basic “luxuries”? Having a nice hair cut four times a year hardly seems excessive. The problem is that middle class salaries have not kept up with the cost of middle class life. If college educated people like me, Z, and Fie, all stopped spending money and only lived within “our means” completely, the economy would grind to a halt. At this point, the American economy is dependent upon middle class debt. (Which is yet another reason why taxes on top wage earners should increase.)

      • You get two types of scissors — the straight cutting type and the thinning type, and then, after a bath you proceed to cut your own (Germanic) hairs. I’m more satisfied with this than anything a salon artiste could do, since salon styles do not make me look like myself at all. Mike calls this demystifying hair dressers.

        Also, you can save A LOT on Hong Kong electronic goods through Ebay. Clothing, too.

        I got this wild T-shirt recently on a second-chance auction from Thailand. Very cheap. And I don’t normally like things with babies on them, but this shirt is ….rather transgressive.

      • “Be careful, you could become disgusting for Clarissa and Mrs 137K IsNotEnough if you continue this trend! ”

        David, it is a Yankee thing and as such I cannot even comprehend it. I’ve always been poor and always will be. When I reach the end of my tether I will glide off into the Indian Ocean like MH370 and you will not hear from me again.

      • “Congratulations, you’re still living in the real world.”

        David– a simple statement of facts, because of what people make of them, will get me downvoted. Nobody is allowed to disagree with the perspective of the Yankee. They’re offended by the life I have to live.

      • Peeps not liking my comments…I am really so beyond the narrative of your existence that I cannot even comprehend your statements. Not everything is about you. There are alternative worlds and alternative modes of operation. If you silence them, then you end up only with yourselves…and how narrow and limiting that must be!

      • “David– a simple statement of facts, because of what people make of them, will get me downvoted. Nobody is allowed to disagree with the perspective of the Yankee. They’re offended by the life I have to live.”

        See how two people downvoted this comment of mine. They should watch French TV instead of Rush limbaugh and O’Reilly. They can no longer think straight.

  6. This financial situation is just mind-boggling to me. With this salary, a family could live very well in the countries I know — Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland, simply because
    (i) No private schools are needed — public schools are good and free.
    (ii) Hardly any student loans are needed — going to University is practically free
    (iii) As a consequence, you would also not be in credit card debt.
    (iv) There is cheap public transportation, so even with a family of 4, you could live with 1 or even no car without problems.
    So the problem is to a large degree political — your country decides not to pay for your education (and apparently also allows colleges and Universities to be absurdly expensive), and not to support good public transportation and instead you have somewhat lower taxes. However, you can easily see a lot of Fie’s expenses as a kind of tax. A tax that does not depend on income, though, but on the level of education you have and want to get for your children, and a tax that is not only paid to the state but also to credit card companies. I don’t fully understand how such a system can happen in a democracy…. wouldn’t the large majority of people benefit from cheaper education and higher taxes?

    • I never really thought of my situation in a political way, but you are totally right. It’s shocking that someone could have the exact same life in a different country but not have to be 300K in debt because of it. Just to get to where we are, we’ve had to accumulate that much debt. It will take the rest of our lives to pay it off. So we’ll never really be able to enjoy ourselves. As a result, the American Dream becomes the American Nightmare.

      • Your story – which is similar to many other stories- testifies to the idiocy of those who refuse to see how class-based this society is and how sharp class divisions are. Just salary itself is not enough to enter the middle class. You need to pay an enormous “entrance fee”, which is what your loans and my debt represent.

  7. David Gendron came to my blog and commented on another post, saying “I find way more disgutting the fact that you complain that your very rich household makes “only” 137K. This is disgusting and insulting for low-income people who have real money issues.”

    Bravo for having the courage to come and shame me on a different post, David. FYI, as noted above, you have no idea what we’ve been through. Part of the reason why I’ve written this post is because u cannot believe that we make this much money and it isn’t enough. But as Clarissa says, the reason it’s not enough is because we have lived in abject poverty for my entire life until I got a full-time job just a couple of years ago. So you must think that it’s easy to combat 35 years of poverty in just three years — on top of the fact that we’ve had disaster after disaster since we moved to the midwest. We’ll be paying for the fact that I grew up poor for the rest of our lives! If I had grown up somewhere where public schools were good, college was free, and there were no fees for medical treatment, then yes, I would be wealthy. But both of my kids have special needs and need to be in a private school, in addition to the fact that I had to live on credit cards for summers when I couldn’t find a job in California. You try living there without a job!

    For the record, I do cut and color my own hair and it looks pretty good. Thankfully YouTube has a lot of tutorials on these things.

    • What I hate about any discussion of financial hardship is the judgment and scrutiny. It’s admirable that you cut and color your own hair but if you did get it cut and colored, it wouldn’t make you a bad person or unworthy of sympathy.(And Musteryou clearly seems to like the results of doing her own hair and that’s great. But not everybody has the skills nor the desire to do it.) Again, wanting to go to a salon to get a hair cut is a little thing. It’s something that college educated people who work full time SHOULD be able to do.

      Anyway, sorry again about your finances Fie. Hopefully things will get better soon. My life improved substantively once I got on the Income Based Repayment (IBR) plan for my student loans. It reduced my monthly student loans payment by 2/3rds! It’s a lot of paperwork but really worth it. So if you aren’t on the IRB plan, I recommend you switch. :)

      • I don’t mean to say that people shouldn’t get their hair cut at a salon. The reason I started to do my own hair was that I couldn’t find a stylist that did a good job with my hair. So I was sick of spending 100 dollars on a bad cut and color. I figured if I did it myself — even if it looked mediocre — at least I wouldn’t have to hand over a bunch of money to do it. I fully support people getting their hair cut at a salon!

      • That is an apelike statement, presuming on what I like or what I do not like. So if I like A or B, does that cast doubt on your judgement in embracing C? If so, you need to go to school and embrace some critical thinking. :)

      • “So if I like A or B, does that cast doubt on your judgement in embracing C? If so, you need to go to school and embrace some critical thinking.”

        I restate this point for emphasis.

        Disliking the statement, by the way, cannot make it false, because it is a logical statement and logic works on the basis of internal consistency, not the basis of how much it is liked or appreciated.

  8. I have looked into bankruptcy a bit, but I don’t think that we qualify. The problem is, we look rich on paper, but in fact, we barely can pay our bills. I got the card of a bankruptcy attorney this week from a reliable source. I suppose it couldn’t hurt to give them a call.

    The problem that I think we’d run into is that some people might not think that private school for our kids is necessary, but because they both have special needs, I think it is. We tried public school for a year, and it was awful. Even though we were at supposedly the best grade school in the city, my kiddo couldn’t cope with it. He has severe ADHD, expressive and receptive language disorders, learning disabilities, and extreme anxiety issues. We thought he was autistic, but he’s been tested several times, and that’s not it. My younger son has fewer issues, but does have speech problems. Both of them are in therapy for their issues, and also are at a special school to address their problems. They are thriving there. To take that away from them, to me, would be cruel and neglectful.

    Under extreme circumstances — I have heard — you can get your school debt either discharged or minimized. But I don’t know that we’d qualify.

    • Fie: nobody knows better than you whether your kids need this private school or not. If you say they thrive there, then obviously that’s what’s best for them. You are a reaaly great parent because you make these sacrifices to make sure your kids get the best education they can get and that they need.

      And I’m sorry I exposed you to David’s tactlessness. He has mental health issues and sometimes (usually in March) they get the best of him. Last March he was being very nasty to voxcorvegis here on the blog and I couldn’t stop him because I was in Spain and couldn’t moderate effectively.

      • In fact, this was worse in July than in March 2013. And this March is way better, although I’m in a possible process to abandon academia because I seem to not be able to market myself.

  9. Thanks for sharing, Fie. Anybody who talks about their personal finances in public had better be either brave or narcissistic. I love that you admit that you’ve made bad decisions, because what the hell, who doesn’t? But in this country especially, having ever made one mistake is a luxury belonging only to the wealthy – you are morally accountable for everything you’ve done, and therefore unworthy of sympathy if your circumstances don’t permit any mistakes. Whatever. I’m in a similar situation, and I’m absolutely exhausted from it. And so, so very pissed with the happy little Europeans and Canadians who think they understand because they have $1000 in student loans. It’s easy to point at other people’s lives and find ways for them to improve (I was even tempted to do so when reading your post, so I get it, but we all need to grow up and leave each other alone). It’s much harder to live a life where you’re sitting in the dark in the evenings to save on electricity, driving without heat in the winter to save on gas, and all the other stupid, exhausting tricks people like us have to save a few dollars here and there. People who haven’t been through this weird middle-class poverty have no idea, and they suck, and you needn’t listen to a word they say.

    • @Elizabeth

      My loans and other associated debt in regards to my schooling was more than $1000 by about 20 times. But thanks for your concern.

      • If your circumstances don’t match what I was pointing at, then I probably wasn’t referring to you. I didn’t mean to suggest that all Europeans and Canadians are spoiled and insitive-hardly. It is, however, fairly common in my experience for one of those folks to compare the burden of, say, a small medical bill to my $120K student loans.

        • What we could do when a person says, “I’m suffering, I’m in pain” is simply believe them and offer support instead of trying to gauge if they are miserable enough to deserve our compassion.

  10. Driving with the heat off does not save gasoline, I think, unless you drive one of the very few cars with a gasoline heater. The Chevrolet Corvair was the last of those, I think.

    • I always track my gas mileage. I’ve owned four cars and in every one, it is better with the heat off. Not by a lot – usually I save about $3-5 a month/approximately one gallon by keeping it off. A quick search online suggests a couple more ways this may work: first, in extremely cold climates (my state had about twenty days this winter in which we did not reach 0 degrees F), the engine takes so long to heat itself that diverting the heat into the car makes a slight difference in gas use, the defroster runs the air conditioner which also affects gas use, and running the fans takes a slight amount of gasoline. When you’re financially comfortable, the difference is so slight as to seem non-existent. But you know, when there’s no way you’ll be able to put any gas in the tank if you run out, these are the banal details you learn to pay attention to.

  11. Clarissa, you were passing this kind of judgement last April. So it’s okay for to question the financial concerns of someone who wants a home with a second bedroom after having kids, but it’s not okay to question the financial concerns of someone scraping by to pay off loans, have a house and two cars, and keep her kids in private school?!

    From the “whiny” offending article,
    “Far less understood, however, is that even those who get the coveted tenure track position often still do not make enough to cover their actual day to day expenses, which may include unavoidably high rent or mortgage payments (depending on the locale), medical expenses when dealing with a health challenge, day care that is easily $1000 a month, as well as the payments on 5- or 6-figure undergraduate and graduate student loans.”

    • This kind of fake obtuseness really really bores me. If you see no difference between somebody saying, “I’m suffering, I’m in pain” and “Far less understood, however, is that even those who get the coveted tenure track position”, then you need to go to the blogs of people who are as developmentally challenged as you are. If this is just an attempt to waste my time, then that’s insulting.

      Please try to strain your limited intellectual capacities to the utmost before leaving stupid comments on my blog ever again.

  12. Fie, if your financial situation is causing you distress, consider going to a fee-for-service financial advisor. Not someone who sells investments and gives financial advice on the side. Get some recommendations, and do some research. You may be surprised at what can be done, or at least be more confident in the decisions you have made.
    And secondly, everyone gets down once in a while, but try not to let your financial situation prevent you from being happy now. There will always be worries, you can’t wait till they’re all gone before your feel able to be happy.

    • twicerandomly – We’re in credit counseling right now. I think that it will help, but it’s going to be a long journey. That’s okay. It took a long time to accumulate the debt. It will take a long time to pay it off. The main thing that gets me so upset is that my hubby and I work so hard, but we feel like we’re just throwing money into a black hole. I wish that we could feel like we were digging ourselves out instead of feeling like no matter what we do, we’ll never be out of debt.

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