In an article about wealth disparity, a split-screen image contrasts a rich person entering a mansion and a working class person entering their apartment.

Sharing Wealth Online has Stirred Controversy

The behavior online has raised issues for people on the receiving end.

 There is a wide spectrum of wealth in today’s economy. There are the people who are working class, working a steady job for a set salary and get through life that way. Within this group, there are individuals who work regularly for a higher wage and live more comfortably. On the far side of the spectrum, there are countless celebrities who maintain a level of  wealth that many cannot fathom. From the A-lister actors, singers and athletes to the social media influencers, these individuals live care-free as they continually rake in money. Therein lies an important question: how much do wealthy people owe everyone else? 

A recent scandal surrounding reality television star Kim Kardashian caused many to consider this question. Kardashian posted two photos fitted in medical patient scrubs in a medical setting with a caption that praised the company, Prenuvo. This medical company offers full body magnetic resonance image (MRI) scans that can detect cancer and diseases early. Despite her post garnering at least two million likes –which is typically a positive thing– the critiques began almost immediately. What upset people the most was the company’s ineffective and expensive reputation. Prior to her post, physicians and experts have repeatedly expressed their concern for the technology that seems to be a waste of resources. And of course, via social media many expressed their issues with Kardashian’s post. One video on TikTok featured a woman ranting that Kardashian was just openly throwing money away and flaunting her wealth. She argued that while she could not afford healthcare, the reality star carelessly made a  tone-deaf post. The video highlighted how several other Americans were struggling to pay for groceries and survive financially. From X to TikTok, a number of users expressed their disdain for the ways $2500 could be allocated. Though it really does not matter how someone spends their money or whether we can control it. 

The video of the woman expressing her frustration about her circumstances was stitched by several TikTok users. Many other stitched videos and comments under her video argue that what people like the Kardashians do with their money is their own business. In these responses, users claim that people should leave the star alone because she should not apologize for the wealth she has and cannot do anything to help anyone else. This is an entire other side to the dilemma for which some find wealthy people responsible. Really, is there anything for her to do? Behavior like this on behalf of the wealthy really does not go beyond just that. The way they choose to spend their money should just be up to them.

Similar to the conversation on wealth disparity, the SAG-AFTRA strikes continue and several individuals tread around this topic lightly. For the screenwriters, actors, journalists, etc. all involved in this industry, the struggle for fairness persists. The strikes challenging the unfair wages and compensation of workers reinforce the question of true wealth. Just how responsible are richer people or these celebrities, for using their wealth benevolently? One of the more recent online events that sparked this question was Zendaya’s Instagram story post sharing campaign photos sponsored by Smart Water. The company’s Instagram also shared an ad that featured the star presenting the product. Many slammed the star for pushing out an advertisement that encouraged Smart Water plastic use. Many people also debated why she would post about this during the ongoing strike. Part of the SAG-AFTRA strikes include many people boycotting their jobs. For months, many have been jobless – from commercials, TV gigs, screenwriting jobs – in solidarity with the union. Users on Instagram criticized the star for her participation with a multi-million dollar company.

Does Zendaya owe anything to anybody, let alone the union? Despite her financial status there really is nothing that can be done by Zendaya or anyone else wealthy to better the situation of others. This is an extensive conversation that can go in a number of directions. Ethically, many believe it would be best for celebrities and wealthy people to spend their money “wisely.” Others believe that how the wealthy choose to spend their money is entirely their own business. The same way these celebrities paved the way for their wealth, they should be entitled to use it how they wish. There are several viewpoints to be visited and not a single “correct” answer covers that base – at least not for everyone to agree.

Being tone-deaf has never been a crime. The discourse on the rich and on celebrities will continue to take place on social media, and, the question of ‘how much the rich actually owe us regular individuals?’ will remain. In an age of people on social media showing their lavish lives, it’s expected that those who are struggling will continue to express their frustration online. Though this will not change the status of either party’s wealth, so it is best to do a social media cleanse every now and then.

It is important to consider that morality has little to do with the way someone spends their own money. The use of money to promote a product or for bragging rights should not have to be justified. Realistically it is not ideal for the people on the receiving end who bear witness to the tone-deaf content. Nonetheless, wealthy people don’t have a rule book that stipulates whether they are a good person or not. 

Ally Najera, California State University, Northridge


Ally Najera

California State University, Northridge
Broadcast Journalism, Minor in Marketing

I am currently studying broadcast journalism and minoring in marketing. I read religiously and love watching films. I am very passionate about words. I live and breathe pop culture – and love to share my thoughts.

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