Poor Linda Tirado. No, seriously, I mean poor Linda Tirado. The blogger became a viral sensation after writing about what it's like living in poverty. The essay, titled, "Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or Poor Thoughts ...", movingly detailed her (supposed) life of extreme poverty, which included living in roach-infested motels, sleeping three hours a night while she worked two jobs and went to school, and having rotten teeth. Many praised her brutally honest admission that the poor "make bad choices" (she cogently explains why the poor spend money on cigarettes and have children with different fathers). Money poured into a GoFundMe account she set up. But many also smelled a rat and began digging into Tirado's apparent poverty.
It turns out that 31-year-old Tirado isn't as poor as her essay may have led some to believe. She's reportedly married to a Marine, which means she would have access to health care. Sleuths dug up her past as a boarding school student and political blogger.
But, mostly, people just simply couldn't believe that someone who writes as eloquently as Linda (and owns a computer, obviously) could be dirt poor.
Confronted, Tirado eventually admitted: "I am making a few things clear: not all of this piece is about me. That is why I said that they were observations."
We live in a me-me-me culture that feels if it didn't happen to YOU, it didn't happen. Call it the "Selfie Generation." There's a long history of writers cribbing from others' experiences. I also know plenty of educated, articulate people with computers who are pretty damn poor.
Anyway, I believe Tirado is poor. Maybe she's not living-barefoot-under-a-bridge-with-a-32-ounce-bottle-of-malt-liquor-poor, but she is struggling day to day like the 60 percent of Americans who spend some parts of their lives below the poverty line and the many more who are barely keeping their heads above it.
One of the most contested parts of Linda's essay is that she has rotten and missing teeth, which have prevented her from getting good jobs. Eagle-eyed Internet sleuths noticed that her teeth looked fine in a Huffington Post live interview. So Linda took to YouTube to defend herself:
Yes, her missing teeth weren't all caused by poverty -- she was hit by a drunk driver when she was young. But a subsequent lack of available dental care didn't help things.
Whether or not Linda is "super poor" isn't the point. She is drawing attention to the plight of millions of Americans who work two jobs and still can't afford to fix their teeth. To her Internet haters (welcome to viral fame, Linda), she says, "To those people who say I have no visible dental problems, I say thank you, I have worked very hard so that you would not notice them."
Hopefully Linda is now making her way out of poverty -- but even more importantly, she is waking people up to how the poor live.
Do you relate to what Linda is saying?
Image via Linda Tirado/YouTube