Friday, November 30, 2012
None of my business, nor the media's, nor yours...
If you read here very often, you might know that I wrote a couple of days ago about the odds of winning that big Powerball jackpot as opposed to the odds of some other things that might happen to you or me. You also probably know by now that it has been announced that two winning tickets were sold, to someone in Arizona and to someone in Missouri.
If you don't know that, you might have been hiding somewhere for the past day or so. The news was all over the morning shows today. I know. I was watching one of them. And, yes, I know that is sometimes a mistake. Be that as it may...
Something has been bothering me all day about the coverage on the particular network I was watching, which shall remain nameless to protect the guilty.
A lot of time was spent on trying to figure out who the winners are, to the point that one of the talking heads went on and on about how "we now have new clues", or something to that effect, about who the winners are. As if there is some primal need for all of us to know who those people are.
At least that's the answer for me. I really don't need to know who those very lucky people are who are now very rich by any normal standards. And, I think that if I had been one of those people, I wouldn't be keen to have everyone know that I had won.
This is not because I would fear having everyone and their cousin coming out of the woodwork to try to borrow money from me. I'm fairly good at saying no, so even though I know that would happen to one extent or another, it goes with the territory and I am confident that I could handle efforts like that in appropriate ways.
I wouldn't want people to know just on the general principle that it isn't anybody else's business. No, really. Just like it isn't anyone's business what salary another person makes or what clothing sizes they wear, or a thousand other details of their lives, it isn't anyone's business how big my bank account had grown if I won the lottery.
I certainly wouldn't keep it a secret from family and friends that I had won. I'm a little less clear on whether it would be any of their business just how much I got to keep after taxes, but the people who are important to me certainly have a right to know about something so life-changing as a bit lottery win. But everyone else? None of their business.
The fact is, when someone wins a big lottery jackpot like this, their lives change. They suddenly have problems that they couldn't have imagined at the beginning of the week. Adding to that by having the press crawling after them, looking for "clues" to who they are, what they do, what their family and friends think about the whole thing, and whether they showed up for work or not the day after learning of their win, just isn't necessary. It's invasive. It's rude.
I know what it is, this media push to find out everything about lottery winners. It's all about our celebrity-driven culture and how our culture worships money. Put the two together, and you create an expectation that anyone who comes into a great deal of money by beating the odds and winning a lottery needs to be our next instant celebrity.
Celebrity should be reserved for those who have accomplished something. I honestly send all my good wishes to those who won this latest Powerball jackpot. I hope they are able to avoid the problems that some earlier big winners of lotteries have been reported to have run into. But they really haven't accomplished anything that rates fame. They walked into a store and spent a couple of dollars on a lottery ticket and had the great good fortune to pick the winning numbers. That's all. Nothing to see here. Move along.
It would be nice if the media would get off their backs and let them figure this out away from the glare of the lights and cameras. Because, they really do have some serious decisions to make in the next few days and weeks.