Rich people, Hollywood actresses, and the media elite like to think they understand the struggles faced by middle and working class Americans. And very often, they try to act as if they share those difficulties.
Gwyneth Paltrow is the poster child for such behavior. Her most noted example was when she once publicly said, without a hint of irony or self awareness, that being a working mom is so hard, adding that her particular situation is comparatively much more difficult than that of the average career women:
I think it’s different when you have an office job, because it’s routine and, you know, you can do all the stuff in the morning and then you come home in the evening.
Of course, let’s give Gwyneth a break. She’s got a very thin skin and is easily rattled. Consider how hard she finds it to deal with your common hotel employee in European cities:
When you go to Paris and your concierge sends you to some restaurant because they get a kickback, it’s like, ‘No. Where should I really be? Where is the great bar with organic wine? Where do I get a bikini wax in Paris?
Like, seriously! Those are some problems! The struggle is real!
Despite the backlash from her many oddball comments (if you can stomach it, here’s a list of Paltrow’s 25 most pretentious quotes), Paltrow has learned very little. In fact, her latest book, titled It’s All Easy (oddly close to her nemesis’ favorite phrase: “It’s a good thing”) shows the same clueless disregard for the reality of what most women deal with every single day. Yes, Gwyneth, “it’s all easy” when you have millions in the bank, own several homes, enjoy regular vacations, employ a variety of minders to care for your every need and desire, and have a job that gives you the flexibility required to raise and care for your children.
Yet this sort of attitude is pretty common throughout the media. This “Stars: They’re Just Like Us” narrative is what gives rise to the belief, at least on the part of media editors, that the average person gives a fig that Kelly Ripa didn’t get advance notice that Michael Strahan was leaving Live! With Kelly and Michael. And the nonstop media coverage of the duo’s bust-up is what no doubt led Ripa to utter upon her return to her morning gig, “Our long national nightmare is over.” She was obviously kidding, but to look at the media coverage, you’d think it was a Nixonian level scandal.
Arianna Huffington’s latest project is similarly oblivious. Claiming she wants to focus on an issue of great importance, she’s written a book about
the grinding poverty created by the collapse of the coal industry, stagnant wages, underemployment, increasing healthcare costs, greater regulations on small businesses sleep deprivation.
Huffington doesn’t just view sleep deprivation as a nuisance or a problem people should be aware of or try hard to tackle. No. In a recent NPR interview, she called sleep “a basic human right” and prattled on about how businesses are somehow responsible for the sleep deprivation crisis in America (brace yourself for a bunch of Huffington Post columns calling for mandatory nap rooms—sort of like nursing and pumping rooms but with cots, pillows, soothing music, and alarm clocks). Is it any wonder Huffington’s daughter has a screwed up sense of what the real world is like? Additionally, as Huffington tends to do, she’s launched a whole new initiative on the subject, called the Sleep Revolution, on The Huffington Post.
To be sure, we are a sleepy and stressed and somewhat over-extended population. Yet, is sleep deprivation anything new? Is it at crisis-level, as Huffington would have you believe? Is this something the average person cares about?
Go ahead and take a nap and get back to me.
When you wake up, take a look at this study, which found some good news: we’re all getting a pretty good night’s rest. Shape magazine reported on the study, concluding that the whole sleep deprivation crisis is a myth:
Researchers at Arizona State University examined data from studies going back 50 years and found that for the last half century, the average adult has always gotten—and is still getting—around seven hours and 20 minutes of shut-eye per night. That’s smack dab in the seven-to eight-hour range that experts say we should be in. . . .
So why all the hype about sleep-deprived Americans stumbling through life like zombies with a cup of coffee in one hand and a bottle of Ambien in the other? Well, for starters, the recent research linking too little shuteye with a higher risk of depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer is in fact legit. It’s just the idea that most of us aren’t getting enough sleep that’s a myth, says lead author Shawn Youngstedt, Ph.D.
In the case of Huffington, there’s one very simple reason she’s interested in pushing the sleep deprivation myth. She wants to sell books. That’s fine. But Americans shouldn’t be fooled into thinking this is a crisis worth losing sleep over. And in fact, most Americans have plenty of real worries, so the stars shouldn’t try to make their imaginary stresses the stuff of our nightmares.