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Twitter Answers “What’s Trashy When You’re Poor, but Classy When You’re Rich?”

What's classy when you're rich, trashy when you're poor

When New Zealand columnist Ana Samways asked her followers what sort of behaviors, objects, and actions are considered “classy” for the rich but “trashy” for poor people, the answers were illuminating. Though Samways’ tweet is years-old, it was recently revived and given new life, which makes sense in our current bleak environment.

With so many in dire economic straits, discussions around money have become more prevalent on social media, and this question is perennial. Not only do we have a world hugely divided by massive wealth gaps and income inequality, but the way people are perceived for the same things turns on a dime based on the class they occupy. Let’s see how Twitter users weighed in.

Here are some of the replies that had us nodding along and then shaking our heads at humanity.

The great majority of these tweets concern image (the clothes we wear, accessories, hair color, tattoos), food, consumption of substances like drugs and alcohol, financial help from the government or institutions, and personal actions like multiple marriages, having many children, and tax evasion. That so many of us immediately can name a whole host of behaviors perceived in opposition based on income level shows that we are taught this almost universally, with our media and politicians shoring it up.

There are so many excellent tweets on this topic it’s impossible to narrow them down. One particularly interesting point is how many behaviors considered eco-conscious and “environmentalist” when they’re adopted by middle and upper-class people are framed as “trashy” when they’re a necessity for the poor. There’s nothing wrong with people wanting to be environmentally-minded, of course, but we should take a good hard look at who is getting applauded and who is getting side-eyed.

The reality is that it’s difficult to find any behavior that isn’t lauded or at least excused, if you’re privileged—while those enjoying less privilege can suffer from being in the same position.

I initially thought the following was about Trump but it turns out maybe we have similar standards for shady politicians worldwide.

This is, perhaps, the number one thing:

But the likely answer to Samway’s initial question is “absolutely everything.”

For many of these behaviors, the rich-are-always-right, poor-are-in-poor-taste divide has been there for, well, centuries. Maybe since the dawn of resource disparity. These social judgments aren’t new; what’s new are the call-outs on social media and getting to see hypocrisy laid bare in thousands of Twitter “likes” and replies.

The next time you hear someone commenting on a “trashy” behavior, spin that around and ask them how they’d feel if a rich person were doing the same thing. And when it comes to “doing crimes,” it’s the wealthy who are getting away with criminality on a large, damaging scale, while we’re made to worry that victimless crimes committed by people with a lower income are hurting society. And that’s the biggest swindle of all.

You can check out the entirety of Samway’s thread for more infuriating answers, if you’re not quite mad as hell enough yet.

(via Twitter, image: Pexels)

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.