Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Searching for Adversity: Rich White People Vs. Self-Preservation

I’ve always found myself horrifyingly fascinated with people’s determination to go to places where they don’t belong: the tops of Mt. Everest, 14-inch-wide pockets in caves, space. The usual common denominator within these scenarios is a wealthy, typically white, man.  

Between witnessing frat boys burn structures straight from the local Home Depot, to later watching as they plunged 40 feet off a cliff into a shallow river, I began wondering, what it is about societal privilege that leaves the better-off striving for oppression. Whatever the reason, it seems the higher your Amex credit limit is, and the closer relation you have with a colonizer, the more inclined you are to throw out all self-preservation instincts and dive headfirst into a tank of hungry sharks. 

You may have heard the term “white people activities” a few times in your life, and as a white person myself, I always laughed along as I found nearly all things coined by this term to be accurate. What I never understood, however, were ones I deemed only applicable to a certain genre of white person. 

This genre is “The Adventurist.” The Adventurist is blessed with a hefty wallet and a carefree attitude. The Adventurist is unfamiliar with caution – why be cautious when everything works out for you in the end anyway? The Adventurist is a good-time guy; he drives his Mustang at 120 on winding roads and clocks in late to the office job his father got him.  

The Adventurist is the group of boys I watched cliff jumping this past weekend. The tide was low, but testosterone was high as I witnessed body after body soar into the water from a steep, rocky cliff. They were just barely skirting the rocks, looking up and laughing as they observed this fact, meanwhile, my teeth felt as if they were going to chatter out of my skull. They did flips and dives, each jump getting more reckless until finally, I couldn’t bear to watch anymore, and my group of “squares” left the river. 

The night before the horror on the river, I was a bystander to a dozen men having a pyromania episode. Lighter fuel, 2×4’s and an area of dense foliage is apparently the recipe to a frat boy’s perfect night. As I walked into the yard of Sigma Chi’s “Burning Man,” I was awestruck by the crowds seeking out the large fire. It really was drunken moths to a flame – everyone seemed captivated by this strange display of masculinity. It felt barbaric, and incredibly hazardous considering the contexts (open flame, heavy brush, alcohol, drunk teenagers, need I say more?).

After noticing the adrenaline rush the frat boys got from flinging their bodies off of jagged rocks, or the passion in their eyes brightened by the fire of the Sig rush party, I had an epiphany. Fear, anxiety, reservation – in a way, these emotions are all status-based. 

We’ve seen it displayed in media time and time again. Rich white guy in Los Angeles gets into some trouble, tries paying off said trouble and usually ends up in more trouble (the plot thickens). This trope, like most, has an incredible air of truth to it. These men don’t fear getting hurt because it’s just another hospital bill. They have no anxiety about missing work due to their injury, as they don’t rely on the income anyway. They feel no reservation, and no need to refrain from dumb stunts because life is a playground for them. 

When I originally discovered this phenomenon, it was in the form of “spelunking,” also known as caving. I read about the tragic story of John Edward Jones, who died while caving after he got stuck in an extremely small canal and was unable to escape. After reading this, I saw dozens of TikToks with men following the same pattern, forcing themselves into areas of caves where no human was ever meant to go. For them, this is part of the thrill, the conquest of untouched land. It’s as if they’ve learned nothing in history class. 

The combination of a lack of real consequences and the need for perceived adversity leads today’s men down a dangerous path of self-indulgence. There must be a limit to daring fun, without treading the line of ending up on a Ridiculousness compilation – yet another case of white people activities. 

Dear Adventurists, 

If you’re looking for a fun story to tell at parties, go to an improv show or take a walk in Portland (plenty of characters there). If your need for adventure overtakes you, go rock climbing, snowboarding or surfing; just do it in moderation. No one will think you’re cooler if you show them the eight stitches you got, a picture of the skyline is enough to impress. Quit poking the bear, it’s not made for your entertainment and it doesn’t care about your stock values. 

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  • B

    BrohOct 27, 2023 at 12:13 am

    Having a bonfire is not a class issue. You saying that walking through Portland to find characters to talk about at parties is wacky. White guilt on display

  • D

    Dale Earnhardt Sr.Oct 2, 2023 at 9:00 pm

    You should look into “cutting up”. It’s a form of Motorsport wherein men of all races and classes drive 30 over on the highway in groups. In particular, it was refined by Puerto Rican and black guys in New York. You might also look into “takeovers”, a practice invented in the black and Latino communities of the San Francisco Bay, where men of all backgrounds congregate in city intersections to spin around in cars. Someone’s interest in this type of behavior is not really about status or race – it’s about power, the feeling of power, to which men are drawn by socialization, and which extraordinary women sometimes seek. Black male service in the Second World War was hard-won. Why did they fight for it? Partly because it was room, board, and pay, and partly because it gave them such power. This cuts across class. Why do poor country people love dirt bikes? Etc. I think the reason it seems like everyone interested in these things is rich and white might be that the places you encountered this behavior are full of rich white people. I’m not going to assume whether you’re also rich, but you do happen to be white.