Whenever I read about another gas-station-clerk-turned-millionaire who dumped their life savings into the latest shitcoin right before it went stratospheric I can’t help but cluck my tongue in disapproval. I’ll sit at the computer and scroll through the article, hate-eating a Wendy’s Baconator and seething with envy.
Don’t get me wrong, though! Part of me feels a secondhand high from their joy. I’m glad they paid off their credit cards, that they bought their mom a new home, and that they can finally afford their hospital bill from when their appendix burst last year. If anything I should celebrate their triumph, this fellow traveler who applied their guile and threw off the yoke of financial oppression. Score one for the common man!
But that part exists in constant competition with a darker, more sinister part of me. This part is bitter, cynical, saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars of student debt and lost in despair. This part can’t be happy for anyone else until I get mine. And I am definitely not getting mine.
I cannot accept that this person might have actually leaned on their own business-savvy to take a calculated risk and came out on top. No way! They were just the right person at the right time with the right level of stupid to invest in a blackhole, but by a freak miraculous twist it actually panned out. They dug a hole to shit in but uncovered King Tut’s burial chamber instead. These things sometimes happen, the world is big enough.
And how irresponsible of this gas station clerk! Gambling all of their dearly-needed wages on a meme. What if they couldn’t afford rent that month? It would have been hard to log into Coinbase if the city had shut off their power. This is the kind of risk-taking only possible with great immaturity. How can someone make all of the wrong choices in life and still stumble into a treasure trove? If they had any sense in their Bitcoin-broken brain they would have made more of the mature and responsible decisions that I did.
Like me, they should have gone to college that they could not afford, bought a diamond ring for their fiance that they could not afford, had a wedding that they could not afford, had two kids that they definitely could not afford, and then gone to medical school which no one can afford. This is the tried-and-true recipe for prosperity. How could they be so naive?
See, you can’t cut to the front of the line like that, you got to pay your God-honest dues. Astronomical debt is a time-honored American tradition, and if we lose touch with our heritage we lose everything. I’m telling you, you got it all wrong. My debt isn’t some financial ball-and-chain. It just means that I’ve got some skin in the game.
Debt keeps you grounded. I’m not going to run on that wheel for nothing. I need to wake up with existential dread and contemplate the abject disaster that awaits my family if I decide I’m done with the rat race. Nothing puts a fire in your furnace like imagining your family becoming destitute. This kind of pressure is necessary for society to function. Debt is the force that turns the wheel of civilization!
What these teenage millionaires don’t understand is that they have eliminated the tension that pulls them out of bed in the morning. We are supposed to chase the carrot on the stick, but we are never supposed to actually catch it. If you’re no longer locked in the pursuit of capital what is even the point of living? What you call “unfathomable financial burden” I call the spice of life!
Consider this Vitalik Buterin fellow. He seems like a nice kid. He positioned himself at the forefront of a tech revolution, engineered Ethereum and nurtured it into a dominant cryptocurrency. The sky was the limit for this guy!
But now he’s worth billions. His life has no more challenge, no more struggle. The drive that propelled him to such dizzying heights is long gone. Most likely he mopes around his mansion, buying things that do not make him happy. You can see it in his face, past that red herring smile. Those eyes have gazed into the abyss, and the abyss has gazed back. It’s sad, really.
The next gas-station-clerk-turned-millionaire story I read about won’t make me feel envy, but melancholy. I’ll take off my hat and salute the fallen soldier. Another one bites the dust.
All I can say is that I am so happy that none of my crypto investments have turned over enormous profits for me. I would be very upset to wake up one morning and discover I was a billionaire, I couldn’t imagine a worse fate.