Titan submersible: Proof of how class, wealth give value to human life
The world seemed to care more about five people than it did about millions, scrambling to save a select few from death while letting hundreds of thousands die every single day.
Five people sank aboard a submarine to board which they each had to pay a quarter million dollars for adventure and everyone heard about it; around 750 people sank off the coast of Greece on a boat to board which they had to pay a few hundred dollars in pursuit of a better life, and the coverage they were given was average at best. That is how social media platforms have looked like for the past few days in light of the sinking of the Titan submarine, not to mention the occasional jokes about the billionaires meeting their doom beneath the ocean.
From TikTok to Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram, there were extensive conversations about the situation that took place, all from criticizing the billionaires who paid $250,000 each to embark on their voyage to the fact that they even took part in such activity, to begin with. The fact of the matter is, millions of people who came to learn about the issue could not wrap their heads around someone paying so much money for such a short-lived voyage; the submarine only has 96 hours of oxygen, essentially paying $2,604 an hour to be stuffed in a can of sardine alongside four other people in a country where the minimum wage would get you $1,730 a month.
There was a wide disparity between social media and mainstream media when it came to the situation with the former criticizing the billionaires and mocking their demise, and the latter providing timely coverage for everything being done about the rescue effort. However, social media users were also quick to criticize the media over their extensive coverage of the incident compared to the subpar coverage of the sinking of the Greek migrant boat.
The public outrage, which manifested in the form of memes, videos, and posts mocking the event, is a form of culmination of the class hatred that has been brewing for decades if not centuries. This is a key trend that can be numerous times, perhaps one of the last times it was seen was upon the burning down of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris when hundreds of millions of dollars were allocated to helping with the restoration of the historic building instead of helping with other humanitarian causes that did not have to do with aesthetics.
"...Donate to help Puerto Rico recover. Donate to get the people of Flint clean water. Donate to get kids out of cages. Jesus didn't care about stained glass. He cared about humans," American author Kristan Higgins said. Meanwhile, leftist French politician and trade unionist Philippe Poutou called wealthy donations "a contest of tax evaders".
It was not just celebrities; everyday people who were struggling to put a meal on their table or even those who were well off to some extent but could not help but sympathize with those who could not. The situation drew so much criticism today in 2023 not only because the "victims", though victims of their own actions, were billionaires - yes, much of the criticism was due to that - rather because they spent $250,000 each to get a low-resolution view of the Titanic's wreckage from a titanium box they can barely fit in shoulder to shoulder, all controlled by a measly gaming controller. The average person cannot fathom such wasteful behavior.
The situation today is parallel to that during the burning down of Notre Dame; hundreds of millions of people are in life-threatening conditions with no access to water, food, or even stranded in conflict-stricken regions, but millions of dollars were spent to try and find a few risk-takers who signed wagers that explicitly mentioned death three times in the first page.
Hundreds of millions of people were forced into the conditions they are enduring on a daily basis, seeking to escape the hell they are mired in, while these few people saw that their lives were going so well that it was boring. They wanted excitement and adrenaline, and for that, they did what no sane person would do and went thousands of feet under the ocean in an unsecured vessel. People would kill - and they do - to be in their shoes, and they were giving it all away for some endorphin that they did something very few people had ever done - a sign of an inferiority complex - and adrenaline that they were doing this cool thing, risking their lives, just to explore the depths of the Atlantic and see some century-old debris.
Let's take a look at the situation from this angle: the irony here is decadent. During the sinking of the Titanic over a century and a decade ago, the waters of the Atlantic distinguished not between poor and rich, engulfing them all the same and sending them to meet their maker without mercy, and today, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic did something similar, although each class sank in its respective body of water, they both indiscriminately met their demise, showing that regardless of a person's wealth, death is inevitable. Stacks upon stacks of money will not protect the rich man from dying just as his poor counterpart, even in the same, horrendous way.
Back to the situation at hand: the governments of numerous states decided to scramble countless aircraft and naval vessels, spending millions of dollars in the process, to find the submarine aboard which the billionaires chose to play Russian roulette; meanwhile, barely any money was spent to rescue the migrants that sank off the coast of Greece. One may beg to differ that the migrants were illegal - not that one's legal status counts when it comes to life and death -, but in reality, so were the billionaires. They choose to go to international waters to avoid being held accountable for their unlicensed trek into the bottom of the ocean.
The issue is not with various states favoring five rich guys over some 700 refugees, or the many refugees that sank over and over again throughout the past two decades in light of the conflicts and social conditions in the Middle East; rather it is with the fact that over and over again, the rich, or their aesthetics, are put before the lives of everyday humans, a clear message from the rich class to the poor class that they do not matter just because of their social status.
The rich are consciously choosing not to rescue people mired in all sorts of inescapable crises, such as the civil war in Sudan, the wars on Syria and Yemen, the economic crisis in Lebanon, and even the economic and social crises their own Western countries are stricken with, and instead spend millions if not billions on vanity projects that serve nothing but the psychological issues they have, such as boosting their ego into outer space. No, literally. That was the case with one of the billionaires aboard the Titan, British "explorer" and businessman Hamish Harding, who was aboard Jeff Bezos' rocket that went into outer space in 2021 aboard a vanity project that served nothing but as a milestone in the space rest between the West's richest men.
The rich class chooses not to act in a manner that does not serve its interests; a submarine or rocket surely does, but education for the masses, free or adequately cheap housing, food, and healthcare do not. The development of the "other" is prohibited because "what if they overtake and undermine us?" The poor are forced into an inequitable system and into survival, reaching the verge of death by running out of resources on countless occasions, all to fund the ability of millionaires to do the same exact thing by putting themselves in such life-threatening scenarios.
That is where the frontlines are drawn, where factions are created, and where blocs are split; there are two blocs: one that has more than it needs, and another that does not have the bare minimum to sustain itself. The rich continue amassing wealth and hoarding money as the poor struggle to make ends meet with complete apathy from the former.
However, despite the apathy toward the crises faced by the poor, there was a highly-vocal minority among the thousands "celebrating" the death of the billionaires calling for respecting and not mocking the dead; but it seems that this cross-class sympathy is a mere one-way affair.
This sympathy does not take into consideration the oppression faced by hundreds of millions at the hands of a few figures in whose hands lie the lion's share of the money. Taking the United States as a case study in this scenario, in late 2022, 735 billionaires collectively possessed more wealth than the bottom half of US households, $4.5 trillion and $4.1 trillion, respectively. The top 1% held a total of $43.45 trillion. The richest did not even let COVID-19 with all its might, and though it brought major economies to a standstill, the wealth held by US billionaires rose by 70%, the "steepest increase in global billionaires’ share of wealth on record," according to the 2022 World Inequality Report.
The hatred toward billionaires and the hate comments being made are nothing but one of the forms that the public can let out their hatred for the rich, who are depriving them of a decent life all for lavish, flamboyant lifestyles. In reality, that is nothing, but until the working class unites in a proper manner, the poor will only have words and mockery to use against the rich, but the culmination of the oppression at hand could be far worse than a few words being directed at a few dead people and the institutions propping them up.