I’ve visited Buzzfeed three times. The first time was to take a silly little test to find out which Batman villain I am (turned out to be Bane, no surprises there) and the second was to read a piece called “43 Inconceivable Facts About “The Princess Bride” You Probably Never Knew.”
These first two encounters were innocent and banal but they were also intended to amuse me, which they did to a slight degree. My third visit to Buzzfeed, however, was amusing but not deliberately so. The banality of this content wasn’t premeditated, it wasn’t part of the act. No, this time was different. This was supposed to be serious but in a wonderful and cruel way, it’s actually a sick joke.
Back in Apr. 2014, writers Rega Jha and Tommy Wesely of Buzzfeed provided us with a checklist to help us ignoble savages determine exactly how privileged we are. It’s audacious schlock, unabashed virtue-signaling, and implicit humble-bragging. I wanted to vomit as soon as I saw the link in my Facebook newsfeed, but I had just eaten a rather expensive cut of meat, so I regained my composure and, naturally, clicked the link.
There are one hundred points in this checklist. I’ve filled it out before but will do so again as I write this. Feel free to follow along and determine your own privilege, you awful person.
The first point on the list is “I am white” followed up by “I have never been discriminated against because of my skin color.” That should tell you everything you need to know about this vile exercise in self-flagellation. I am indeed white and no, I’ve never been discriminated against because of it, not as far as I can tell, so that’s two down.
The almighty checklist demands to know if I’ve ever been the only person of my race in a room. I’ve worked with numerous southeast Asians and on more than many occasions I’ve been the only white guy in the crowd.
Moving down the list…
Have I ever been mocked for my accent? Well, yeah, I’m a New Englandah. Everyone mocks us for our accent and let’s face it, we sound half retahded. I have never been told I sound white? Are you kidding? I’m the whitest person I know and people notice and often like to remind me.
A stranger has never asked to touch my hair? I shave my head. Not because I’m a card-carrying member of the KKK or because I’m a skinhead but because it’s convenient, comfortable, I wear it well, and it’s a great way of hiding male pattern baldness. But yeah, people do ask to touch my head and I welcome it as long as it’s a rich, beautiful, blond in her early fifties who’s asking.
After a bit, it goes from racial politics to sexual politics. There are points about coming out and about whether or not I ever doubted if my parents would accept my sexuality. I have never been called a derogatory slur to describe a homosexual? Of course, I have. I run with a vulgar and frequently mean spirited clique of people, and we call each other all sorts of heinous things, but it’s all in good fun. We don’t play the victim every time someone makes an off-color remark.
From there, it dovetails into the realm of religion. I have never been ostracized for my religion for a simple reason: I’m an atheist, I have no religion. When I was a Christian, I was told my sexuality would lead to my eternal demise so I guess that means I’ve been oppressed. Or I’m going to hell. I guess we’ll see.
And I’ve never been told my sexuality is “just a phase” because heterosexuality is in accordance with the biological constraints of our human nature. Heterosexuality is biologically normal and yes, there is such a thing as normal, and I’m the poster child for it.
I am indeed a man, Buzzfeed, thanks for asking and I do feel comfortable with my gender because I’m of sound mind (mostly). The next two points about gender – I still identify as my gender and I have never tried to change my gender – are repetitive filler, their only person is to stack the deck against ordinary people like me. If I feel comfortable with my gender than why would I change it in either word or action?
And then Buzzfeed wants to know if I’ve ever been denied a job because of my gender. How the hell would I know? I didn’t check that point. It also wants to know if I make more money than my professional counterparts of another gender. Again, I don’t know, it’s none of my damn business how much money someone else makes. I didn’t check that point either.
The all-knowing checklist wants to know if I have ever been catcalled. I have been, several times, and each time it’s been quite flattering.
It wants to know if my parents are still alive, still married, and heterosexual and they are, but that makes me wonder… Being alive, married, and straight are privileges? Or having that pedigree is a privilege? I thought that was just being normal because without families and heterosexual sex, our entire species died off. The authors must not have thought this through very well.
The quiz wants to know if I’ve ever been shamed for my body type or my religious beliefs. No to both of them. Shame is a feeling and I’m in total command of my feelings. The only way I could ever feel shame is if I decide to. The only person who controls me is me.
Has anyone ever called me a terrorist? I’m a single, white, male, conservative in America, I’ve been called a terrorist and much worse than that on a regular basis.
I’m at the end of the list, and I have forty-seven points which means I’m not privileged. Hurray! In the summary of my completed checklist, Buzzfeed tells me I’m “not privileged at all.” Well, gosh, that’s a relief. “You grew up with an intersectional, complicated identity, and life never let you forget it.” None of that is true, not a single word of it.
It told me, “You’ve had your fair share of struggles, and you’ve worked hard to overcome them. We do not live in an ideal world and you had to learn that the hard way.” It wasn’t difficult to learn, I pay attention to the obvious like every other working class stiff in this country, and the truth is made manifest to the naked eye at every turn: Earth is as horrifying as it is beautiful, it’s a double-edged sword, and life here is rarely, if ever, fair.
It finishes with, “It is not your responsibility to educate those with more advantages than you, but if you decide you want to, go ahead and send them this quiz. Hopefully it will help.” I did share the checklist because I want all of my Facebook friends to know I’m not some caviar-eating, hoity-toity piece of 1%-er trash. I want everyone to know I’m better than people with privilege.
You see, this is all a game and the way you win is by having the least amount of points. But to win the privilege game you have to be an actual loser, and make believe that the people who have succeeded in life – the affluent, the healthy, those with stable, loving families, etc. – are really losers because they’re winners. And the only reason the winners of the game are losers is because the real winners (who are actually losers) made them losers. But they’re not losers according to social justice dogma, they win the game of life because they have fewer accomplishments and more failures.
Makes perfect sense, right?