(See correcting UPDATE at the end.) Last week I mentioned a post that was then in the process of becoming infamous, by a University of Chicago law professor lamenting how hard it was to make ends meet while being well into the top 1% of the U.S. economic pyramid.
Soon afterwards he deleted the post and associated comments. He explained the decision here, in another post that I hope some novelist somewhere has copied down for story inspiration. ("I stand by the posts, the facts in them, and the points they were making. The reason I took the very unusual step of deleting them is because my wife, who did not approve of my original post and disagrees vehemently with my opinion, did not consent to the publication of personal details about our family. In retrospect, it was a highly effective but incredibly stupid thing to do.") This being the era when nothing ever goes away permanently, the whole original shebang -- initial post, farrago of comments -- is web-cached here.
As a side note, it turns out that George Orwell's warnings about the "memory hole" were too optimistic. We have the bad side of the memory hole -- basic facts being purged, forgotten, or deleted. Eg, "Don't let the government get its hands on my Medicare." [For another instance, see below.*] But we also have exactly the opposite problem: the un-deletability on into eternity of information that has ever made its way onto the web. People can't remember anything about politics, history, or public life, but they can retrieve everything about someone's personal history.
Back to the topic: two useful replies to the original "woe is me" post. One, by Brett Arends of the WSJ, is a list of actually-practical steps that the "wealthy poor" could take to avoid the constraints the professor complained about. Congrats to Arends for not just attitudinizing but taking the predicament seriously and looking for alternatives. And after the jump, one explanation for the typically low level of self-pity one encounters in modern China, where objectively there is a lot to complain about.
A reader with experience in China says that if most people there don't seem to feel sorry for themselves,
>>>it's probably because nearly everyone you meet there has had it hard (or still have it hard). The old landlord/business-owning families were "douzheng"ed ("reeducated", though the connotation is more akin to "tortured" in my mind; not surprisingly, since a bunch of folks were tortured to death or driven to suicide). The peasants always had it hard. Nobody had anything except the top cadres, and even life for them was uncertain (one day, the head of the family is a top Communist official, the next, Mao feels threatened, so he's left to die starving to death in his own excrement in a cell while the rest of the family is sent to do hard labor in the countryside).
In such an environment, you need to keep on your toes and strive to survive, so you really don't have time for self-pity/thoughts of entitlement (plus you're well aware of how much worse and capricious life could be; there are folks in China today who witnessed people starving to death and engaged in cannibalism due to Mao's disastrous policies during the Great Leap Forward). I imagine most of the "Greatest Generation" in the US was about the same way, if to a lesser extent.<<<