A friend invites you to eat at Mediterranean Deli. Your budget is $8. Here’s how to have it all while still being burdened by an overwhelming sense of social awareness.
Step 1: You walk to the restaurant while contemplating classism. It’s a burden that you, unlikely serf among aristocratic landowners dressed in Vineyard Vines and Nike shorts, must be the sole bearer of the torch of Real Life while your friends get weekly allowances and load up their resumes with unpaid internships over the summer.
UNC, though perhaps a beacon of affordability in the current climate, contributes to the broken system of higher education in the United States. The rich get richer and more educated with every generation. Even your British friends are appalled.
Step 2: Know your budget. You might think it’s $8, but you will be ordering baklava, which is $1.99. You’re broke, but you’re a human; you deserve baklava.
This reminds you of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and how it’s often interpreted by the privileged as the idea that one will not even reach towards higher goals like self-acceptance or self-actualization until their base needs are met. This has lead to the dehumanization of the poor, mingling with dehumanization of people of color due to systemic poverty and colonialism. It’s so unfair!
You want to shout from the rooftops, but you know that as a privileged person you’re better off magnifying voices of oppressed minorities instead of steamrolling them.
You congratulate yourself for knowing your place within the activist community. You realize you are still part of the problem.
Step 3: It’s time to order some food. There, on the counter, is a whole cantaloupe full of chicken salad. $3.99 a pound.
You wonder if a whole pound of food is a reasonable amount to be putting into your body for one meal. You realize that you are a victim of rampant body objectification.
You wonder what you’ll watch on TV tonight that won’t perpetuate your own self-awareness. You really want to watch “Game of Thrones,” but you also kind of don’t because rape on the show is, at worst, an example of a cultural plague of sexual violence and, at best, a cliched trope in television.
You mostly feel like you shouldn’t watch because that’s what the good feminists are doing, but you resent that pressure. You realize that your resentment is contributing to the unnecessarily divisive culture of modern feminism. You give yourself a slap on the wrist.
Step 4: You’re insufferable! Your friend has left you, and you’re sitting in Med Deli alone, watching the townies next to you having a great first date.
Step 5: Your subtotal is $7.50.