Since sixth form, I have noticed a bizarre aspect of student culture whereby financially secure students make a habit of professing how they are, and I quote, ‘poor’. Here is a classic example: “Ooo, the small latte is £2.20… but the large is only £2.35…. ah I’m so poor at the moment lol I shouldn’t even be getting a drink at all. Oh sod it, I’ll get the large, it’s only fifteen pence more!”
This annoys me for multiple reasons. Firstly, if you genuinely can’t afford a coffee, don’t buy one. Secondly, if you can afford it, just buy it and enjoy it. You don’t have to announce to everyone around you that you’re only buying it becuase it’s Friday and you’re being ‘naughty’. If you have the money, and are willing to spend it, spend it happily.
But thirdly, and most crucially, I don’t think you should pretend to be poor when you’re not. I am not the poverty police, and just in case any of you start attacking me for things I am not actually saying, here are some disclaimers. I know that a tragic amount of students are genuinely poor. I think students should be able to complain about the extortionate debt we are left with. And I know that you can be rich and miserable.
However, I also know for a fact that if you go on nine nights out a month, you’re not poor just because you also then can’t afford a coffee or a meal out. What you’re actually saying is that you expect to be able to afford everything you want, and therefore believe that having to sacrifice the odd luxury makes you hard up.
I know that jokes about being ‘poor’ or in your overdraft are only said for mild amusement, and are not genuine pleas for sympathy. So perhaps I’m being a spoilsport, but I think that if you are, financially, in a position of privilege, it is better to be appreciative than entitled. Instead of complaining about the coffee that you can’t buy, acknowledge that it’s because you have been able to buy (pre-corona) two festival tickets for the summer. There are already far too many people having to suffer the reality of poverty, be it relative or absolute; the world doesn’t benefit from those who are well-off pretending that they’re not.