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Hey, Big Spender (You're Kind Of A Douchebag)

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HEY BIG SPENDER
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Hoo boy. This guy, am I right?

A quick recap: Toronto Life published a think (?) piece from a pharmacist named "Tony" who earns $130,000, lives at home with his parents and unapologetically spends it on, in his words, "wild, rare, unforgettable experiences."

People are pissed. And this isn't just Internet pissed; Tony has tapped into something real and usually unspoken that winds its way through our society as a whole. So let's talk about it.

First off, this dude is privileged as hell.

But he doesn't really seem to notice it. Like lots of rich people (and yes, earning six figures qualifies you as "rich" in my books -- there's a reason we've never heard about athletes negotiating lucrative contracts in the "high five figures"), he seems to assume that anyone could do what he did.

Anyone can go to med school and become a pharmacist. Anyone can dodge rent by living at their parents' house in North York. He tries to get ahead of inevitable criticism by insisting that he "works hard," and then immediately admits that his mom "does my laundry and makes my meals."

He lets us in on amazing concepts like "not buying into a mortgage" and "spending money on experiences, not things" as if he is a Rosetta Stone of enlightened living. And implicit in his championing of the lifestyle that his crew lives ("The Core Four," with his role as the "Plus One," which reminds me of the famous movie The Magnificent Seven and Also Their Friend) is the idea that everyone else is wrong.

If you're paying off a mortgage, have you shackled yourself to an ordinary life?

If you're not travelling, are you really living?

If you drink an expensive wine and don't log it on your wine-logging app, does it even count?

If there's one thing everyone hates about the truly privileged, it's that they have way more money and resources to deal with problems and complications in their lives.

Tony tells us the story of the time he almost bought a mansion with the somber intonation of a war veteran. "It was the best call I ever made," he says while awaiting formal confirmation of his induction into The Order of Canada.

He explains how it wasn't always like this -- how over time, somehow, the idea of spending a shit ton of money and turning your life into a late-90s Puff Daddy video began to appeal to him and his older brother.

But here's the thing: Tony hasn't really done anything wrong. As he admits, he works for his money. He's not defrauding the populace or committing any crimes. His stories are shockingly free of debauchery or objectifying women -- his opening anecdote ends with him and all his friends failing to pick up any women.

He seems to have a good relationship with his family, and who knows? He could be your pharmacist. Tony-who-aspires-to-drink-a-Rothschild could have just non-judgmentally sold you a box of Plan B. He's part of our city, part of our community.

So why does everything he wrote make so many people want to punch a hole through their screens?

If there's one thing everyone hates about the truly privileged, it's that they have way more money and resources to deal with problems and complications in their lives.

But if there's a second thing everyone hates about the truly privileged, it's the mentality that anyone can do what they can, can achieve what they can. It's the idea that they're not really privileged, they're just smart/resourceful/hard workers.

I'm sure lots of people can relate to individual aspects of Tony's story. I stayed at home through my 20s to enjoy a reduced rent and focus on paying off my student loans.

Who hasn't had a Treat Yo Self day where they bought an outfit they had no business owning at that point in time?

Who hasn't tried to play baller and get bottle service at the club?

Who hasn't done something hedonistic in one way or another and bragged about it?

But these are moments within our lives as a whole, and our lives have obligations, limitations and consequences. And then here comes Tony down from the mountain with this breathtaking revelation: "Wow, it's really fun to have a huge amount of disposable income with little to no debts or obligations! Why doesn't everyone do this?!"

It's like a less-cute version of those videos where a baby discovers its nose for the first time, and it breaks the camel's back for a lot of people.

The worst part: Tony could have told us things about a life most of us will never know.

We live in a world where those with various forms of privilege -- gender, racial or monetary -- are dunking on the rest of us all the time. There's no corner of society where those who were lucky enough to be born into a good situation (and let's be real: it's a luck thing) don't reap the benefits. But we try our best to push on and get what we can in our own way.

It's life as we know it.

Until some guy gets a feature article in reputable magazine in the biggest city in the country just to tell boring-ass stories about how great it is to be rich, and how we should all try it sometime.

Then the Douche Alarm that resides in all of us goes to DEFCON 1 and we are compelled to react. It's the circle of life.

But that's the worst part: Tony could have told us things about a life most of us will never know.

He could have dug deeper into his parent's compelling rise from immigrants to pretty-well-off Canadians.

He could have told us whether this new lifestyle actually makes him happier than he was before.

Hell, he talks about "experiences," but never seems to have a trip that lasts more than a week -- has he ever wanted to really embed himself in a new culture?

Does he have any interest in tracing his roots back to the Middle East?

Instead of any of that, he lists the wines, foods and party spots he's hit up. He vaguely alludes to things changing in the future, but doesn't go deep. He takes us aside at a party and promises a great story, but the story amounts to "I'm rad as hell."

I want to hate on Tony, but it would probably just come from a place of jealousy or frustration. I'd want to make him understand that not everyone has the ability to make the same choices he does, nor should they want to if they could. But I feel that would mostly fall on deaf ears.

So I'd just leave him with this piece of advice:

Dude, you're rich enough to have better stories. Getting into Fabbrica doesn't make you automatically interesting and having the ability to pop over to Ibiza doesn't mean you've actually had an interesting experience. Your grandkids (or The Lawyer's children or whoever you'll be regaling with stories of your youth in a few decades) won't give a shit that you ate the entire menu at multiple restaurants.

For your own sake and the sake of your next inevitable Toronto Life thinkpiece, expand your idea of what makes for an amazing/wild/awesome time.

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