Money changes people. At least, that’s something I was told a lot when I was a kid. Growing up poor, you hear all the time about how corrupt you become with a little bit of power. At the time I just accepted it, not really having the ability to understand that someone was just trying to make us feel better about our situation.
Now that I’m older and (arguably) wiser, it’s hard to say that I ever truly shook that belief, though now I’m more way more cynical and just assume that all rich and famous people are assholes, which, in some way, likely contributed to that success in the first place. I don’t know, really, and I certainly don’t have the perspective to say for sure whether Celebrity X was actually a jerk or just having a bad day when I met him. Hell, I’ve been poor my whole life and I’m not always super friendly.
Honestly, this is something I think about a lot – the responsibility that comes with the public eye and how tempting I may be to take shortcuts, or to abuse that power once you have it. That said, it’s no coincidence the Palmer Luckey shitstorm happened only a few days ago. It just calls back to every suspicion I have about people in a position of influence and every fear I have about becoming that way myself. I’ve stated a million times that my life goal is to end up famous for something positive, but once I get there, will that be enough, or will I be tempted to use my new-found power to right any perceived wrongs?
I’m reminded of a story years back about a guy that tried to scam and bully Mike Krahulik from Penny Arcade. The guy was a slimeball, for sure, but Krahulik then published his details for the world to see. He practically ruined the man’s life, leading to harassment and death threats. What felt, at first, like karmic retribution quickly devolved into the same bullying he was trying to fight back from. It felt like the culmination of a life spent mostly without that power; an adolescence spent getting shoved into lockers, vowing one day that you’d get back at them all.
As someone that dwells on the past rather frequently, I imagine that I’d struggle with those same temptations. If I were to become a rich man, sure, my first priority would be to take care of myself and my loved ones, but after that? When the boredom sets in? When the novelty of that power is no longer scary and instead becomes the norm? I worry about the person I’d become. Perhaps reminding myself of that is the best way for me to prevent it.