Why People Hate Bill Gates
I was going to write something light and fluffy today, but last night I came across something that really got my goat, so this is what I have.
(I have a habit of spending late nights on weekends exploring videos on YouTube. Typically I start with something I am looking for, but that’s just a starting point. Once I start searching, I start noticing other videos that YouTube recommends and when something catches my eye, I go there. And then from there to something else somewhat related to that. And so on. Soon, I’m in a totally strange land with weird and wonderful people and events and ideas. I call this game “Going down the algorithmic rabbit hole”. You get to discover a lot of stuff this way that you had no idea even existed and will never get to see on TV.)
Anyway, as I was tumbling down the rabbit hole last night, I came across the video linked below. It talks about why people hate Bill Gates and what he should do about it.
Let’s first let that sink in. People are actually hating the man who is spending literally billions on saving lives! And they aren’t hating him just because he is a billionaire. We kind of expect a base level of hared based on that these days. But usually that’s cancelled out by the awe and intrigue people have about billionaires. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get that benefit.
No, they hate him particularly because he’s not like them. And that’s what really got my goat.
He is one of the smartest people alive today. And he managed to convert his smartness into becoming the richest man on earth – where he stayed for decades! And then he managed to pivot from that to becoming probably the biggest philanthropist in the world today. And not just in a “let’s set up a foundation and hire people to run it” way. He actually spends a lot of his time working hands on there.
Apart from that, he is pretty much the first “nerd” to have made it all the way to the top. (Just to be sure, in my dictionary, “nerd” is a not a bad word. In fact, the fact that it is not the case in most peoples’ dictionaries is a part of the problem I’m talking about.)
Anyway, before him, the typical path for someone like him would have been in academia or in some industrial research lab. At the most a government position that normally remains far away from the limelight, unless something extraordinary happens. (Yes, Dr. Fauci comes to mind). That’s about it.
He showed nerds all over the world a new path – a path to the far reaches of money and power. And you’ll notice that nerds all over the world took notice and followed in his footsteps. So much so that now the old boys network that used to be in charge of the world is worried. They are actively trying to suppress and discredit scientists and technologists. It’s all a part of the oldest high school rivalry – the one between bullies and nerds. (A topic in its own right, for another day. I promise. 🙂 )
Anyway, the person in the video zeroes in on some aspects of his personality as the problem. The way he smiles, gulps, sits, his expressions and mannerisms. Those trivial things become more important than all his smartness, his success, his money and power, even his good deeds! Because those things are what’s making all these people feel that he isn’t like them. He is an “other”. Of course some of it is driven by people who have a vested interest in hating him, but they wouldn’t be able to create such vitriol against him unless there was something underneath.
So, sadly, the man in the video is telling the truth.
We are used to acknowledging this phenomenon of “otherness” in other aspects of society: Gender, race, ethnicity, and so on. I feel “nerdiness” should also get a some recognition in that.
On the other hand, I find it really interesting and heartwarming that he continues to behave the same way after all these years. It’s unlikely that he hasn’t had the top personality coaches / PR experts in the world giving him lessons on how to look / talk / express himself. It’s not like other smart people don’t learn to fake these trivial things. The fact that he hasn’t changed may be telling us something. Maybe he thinks “Why be like them? What’s wrong with this?”
And he’s right. There’s nothing wrong with it. And as more and more people like him occupy the top of the heap, may be over time, people will get used to it. May be that they will even start to expect it. And just like he blazed the trail that allowed nerds to reach the top of the money and power heap, he’ll blaze the trail for them to be accepted into society just the way they are.
That will be the day we will all be free. Because when we learn to accept “otherness” it sets us all free. Because we all have some “otherness” in us.
Until then, though, we’ll have to listen to experts like the one in the video.