Privilege can be a difficult thing to deal with.
Recognizing your own and tolerating someone else’s can be an exercise in patience and empathy.
What happens when someone unwittingly flaunts their advantages, and you call them out on it?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) meshybeshy when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for telling my colleague he only has his job because his uncle is the CEO?”
OP started with some background.
“I’m early 20s [female] and last year started working at a major company.”
“I entered this job through a scheme for disadvantaged young people. Despite this, the interview process was still incredibly tough, and I’m proud to have made it this far.”
“When I’m not with my team, I hang out with the other girls I’ve met and befriended through that scheme.”
“The nephew of the CEO started his role at our department a little later and, for whatever reason, has been joining us girls for lunches, etc.”
“He tries VERY HARD to fit in and acts like he doesn’t come from a place of insane privilege.”
“He will literally pretend to be humble and downplay his family’s wealth just to seem relatable, I guess.”
“The others have been warming up to him, but I’m honestly not buying his rather fake personality.”
Everything was okay, until…
“The other day, I was sitting at the canteen with another coworker, and he asked if he could join us. I didn’t want that, but my coworker immediately said yes.”
“Well, he was asking me lots of personal questions and about my journey to the company.”
“I told him that the interview process was hard and mentally draining.”
“He nodded and said that it’s tough getting into the place but that his interviews were ‘fine.’ Even laughing and saying he came late to one because of a hungover.”
“This made me mad, and I said, ‘good for you.'”
“He thanked me and said that things always work out when you just ‘chill out’ and stop taking things so seriously.”
“This is when I said that we both know he’s not nearly as competent as he believes and that he only got the job bc his uncle is literally the CEO.”
“My friend/coworker gasped and looked at me like I’m crazy.”
“The nephew shrugged and said that I don’t seem to like him. I told him that this wasn’t a personal matter, so likes and dislikes are irrelevant.”
“We didn’t argue, but he got a little heated.”
“And asking me what I want him to do. Then he said that I may view him as an overprivileged a**hole, but I’m more or less the same (which makes no sense).”
“So I fully expected him to report me to HR, but to my surprise, he never did.”
“In fact, he started following me on my social media accounts and messaging me at work more frequently.”
“My coworker has relayed this incident to the other girls, and the consensus is that I’m a major a**hole.”
“They said that not only was I unnecessarily hostile and rude, they’re also mad he started hanging out with them less.”
“(Not sure if this is a coincidence but I’ve also been spending less time with them)”
OP was left to wonder:
“AITA for giving my unprompted opinions?”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: YTA
Some doubted the veracity of the post.
“I feel at some point at their future wedding OP is going to say I thought he was an a**hole at first. And he’s going to say, ‘I just really respected how she called me out on my sh*t'”
“They’ll only have one child that will go to a state school because of some moral reason that the OP will have.”
“He’ll have an affair but not the sexual kind. He’ll pay someone for hugs. He’ll blame OP. OP will write another Am I the a**hole post.”
“I like this game” ~ monkeywrench83
“I got this vibe too!!”
“The CEO’s nephew gets a reality check from a feisty woman from a humble background and can’t stop thinking about her.”
“She is completely annoyed by him, but eventually he wins her over through his lavish gifts and expensive dates….and the rest is history.” ~ phantomixie
Sometimes it’s how you say it, not what you say.
“Your delivery is terrible. You need to really communicate what you mean and not how you feel sometimes.”
“You’re at work. Stick to courteous phrasing.”
“I’m POC and would’ve simply said, ‘it’s different when you’re competing against XYZ people’ or ‘don’t have connections to feel at ease with the company’ – Reddit
“‘inclusion is fairly new and a deeply personal journey. I don’t think we can compare really’.”
“The rest of your post is you projecting. What did you expect him to be/do? He’s right to ask.”
“I think he’s staying in touch to give you both a chance to know each other on a collegiate level, at least. Take the olive branch or keep a polite dialogue and stay professional.”
“You were right that your reaction was not personal. It was your distaste towards ignorant privileged people – you had no idea if he was one or not.”
“The only facts you presented is he’s genuinely nice and trying to break race/social stereotypes and barriers.”
“Why wouldn’t you be on board with someone like that?”
“Instead, you took politics and spat it in his face. Good luck driving progress with that role if this is the attitude you continue with.”
“I do think the leniency is, in fact, to allow time and space for you all to also acclimate to your environment and the inclusion program process, given the journey there was trying (as you said).”
“Imho take the time to reflect. How would you connect with the colleagues who truly are allies and support the initiative that included you and more diversity?”
“There’s bound to be growing pains for everyone until y’all adjust. This is the change you’ve been waiting for – are you gonna be part of it and create healthy dialogue and reconcile the differences – or just be pointing out who had what privilege…?” ~ mayfeelthis
“I would add:”
“Is there a more productive way of getting my point across?”
“In this case, I could envision a version where she’d responded simply, ‘I’m not sure that anyone else could have gotten away with that’ to the admission about interviewing hung over.”
“I do think it’d be valuable for this guy to check his privilege a bit!”
“And OP is as fine a person to address it as any, in particular, because they are one of the people at the other end of the spectrum as far as advantages go.”
“But there’s a professional way to do it, a way that may actually get him to think about it… and then there’s the way OP went.” ~ des1gnbot
“I like this! I tell my kids to THINK before they speak.”
“T – true H – helpful I – informative N – necessary K – kind” ~ leggyem
This post really broke it down.
“Whenever you need to voice a negative opinion, ask yourself A) does this need to be said, B) does it need to be said right now, and C) does it need to be said right now by me?”
“Does this need to be said?”
“No, not unless there’s something about the way he’s been acting that you’re not conveying.”
“It sounds like he’s making an effort to be friendly and not to be one of those guys who swaggers in expecting everyone to kiss his @ss.”
“Does it need to be said right now?”
“No. If you were really concerned, a private conversation or a conversation with your or his manager about his behavior would have been appropriate.”
“Does it need to be said by you?”
“It sounds like you’re being unreasonably hostile toward this guy.”
“And it’s not a coincidence that they’re spending less time with you–they think you’re an a**hole. No wonder they don’t want to hang out with you.” ~ km89
Not everyone felt OP should get all the blame.
“He was insensitive for his ‘things work out fine if you just relax.”
“(Because this is true for people of privilege but not everyone else)”
“And you were rude to say he’s incompetent and undeserving of his job.”
“(Because it can be true that he only got the job because of his uncle AND that he’s actually competent at the job).”
“Everyone here could have been a lot more diplomatic, but you were overtly rude.” ~ hellolittlebears
“Lol surprised that it took this long to see an ESH judgment for this.”
“I’m not sure why people in the comments are getting a bit worked up on the behalf of a CEO’s nephew.”
“In this instance, both OP and the nephew are the a-holes for sure.”
“The nephew for minimizing the challenging interviews that OP went through and not recognizing his privilege to be able to go into an interview with a hangover and still get the job and OP for being hostile with them from the beginning.” ~ phantomixie
Having an advantage does not make you a bad person any more than having a disadvantage makes you a good one.
Judging someone without the context of who they are can lead to some sticky situations, especially in the workplace.