New research shows that rich people cannot feel pain, don't care if they're liked.
What!?! Before we go into this lets get some literary and historical context.
The famous author F. Scott Fitzgerald coined an enduring statement about the rich in his classic book, “The Rich Boy”. “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.”
Some people disagreed with Fitzgerald including most famously, Earnest Hemmingway who said “Yes the rich are different. They have more money”.
But now there is research that shows that Fitzgerald was right in some surprising ways.
Being rich makes people somewhat invulnerable to pain and steels them against rejection by other people, according to researchers in China and America. In several different tests involving actually pain and rejection technics rich people were consistently more resistant to pain and were seemingly unfazed by rejection, insults or other indignations that would make the rest of us cry and beg for anti-depressants.
Jeez, some other research shows that rich people even live longer, up to a decade more than the rest of us. No wonder ancient guys like Rupert Murdoch are still reeking havoc on society years after everyone else is retired or dead. This means Bill Gates could still be doing Windows fifty years from now. Yipes! Obviously the reason for this is they can afford the best health care in the world. How else did Steve Jobs get to go to the head of the liver line in Memphis?
And you know how they say the rich just get richer? They’ve proven that now as well. The explanation for this is a little easier. They are much smarter with money because they are better advised and they get greater access to money-making opportunities. Duh.
There is another key difference between us and the rich. Their yachts do it. Their limousines do it. Their jets do it. Even their air-conditioned mansions by the sea do it. The trappings of wealth tend to emit lots of climate-warming carbon dioxide. This is why in some parts of the world strategists suggest setting an international individual cap on the emissions that spur global warming. (Al Gore, are you listening? Oh yeah, you are just rich...not super rich) Makes you a little queazy if you are scraping to afford a hybrid Prius or a solar panel to cut your carbon footprint.
I think all of us have fantasized at least once about being really rich. Think the fancy cars, the big houses, the jets and boats. Now you can add resistance to pain and emotional stress and a longer than normal life to the fantasy.
So what is the downside of being rich? I have a really rich friend who tells me that the downside to being rich is that you become more of a target to others who want to take away what you have. He says he has to spend time and money on security, and you have to be a bit cautious about new acquaintances. He always wonders if people want something from him or do they really like him? He says he is “on guard” a lot of the time.
At the end of the day...he seems to have a really good time. I even saw him bleed...but I’ve never seen him cry.