Rohail Hyatt's rant about being 'rich can be harder than being poor' reeks of privilege

Rohail Hyatt's rant about being 'rich can be harder than being poor' reeks of privilege

A Twitter rant has exposed the musician's deeply privileged and flawed take on poverty and existence.
Updated 20 Oct, 2021

For a music genius, Rohail Hyatt is quite tone-deaf.

On Sunday, he took to Twitter to talk about "unity and celebrating diversity" and by Tuesday afternoon, his tweets had spiralled into a hot mess — the type where you are so unaware of your privilege that you keep stepping into the pile of mess again and again [...] and again.

Here's the first and — in comparison to what followed — a mild tweet.

Some social media users came after Hyatt, given his open admiration for Imran Khan. This is where things took an ugly turn because the musician, who owes his career to millions of Pakistanis, called the public 'jahil' and implied he does not hold PM Imran Khan to a higher standard because simply put, the nation doesn't deserve any better.

"People must first become the change they demand from their leaders" doesn't really make much sense to us. Why must the burden of poor governance fall on the public and never on the leadership?

He then made a more sensible point (perhaps the ONLY sensible point in his entire rant) about people not knowing much about celebrities and their day to day lives. "I interact with more poor people than most people will ever imagine. I also know poverty around the world" — this line, however, reminded us a bit about a certain orange skinned man who also loved to make grandiose proclamations...

But then came the real zinger. And by zinger, we mean the real madness.

"I’m not saying being poor isn’t hard, but being rich can be harder at times." What even?

His tweets before this expounded the "simple pleasures" of life, claiming that children playing marbles are happier than those playing with PS5s. He managed to insult two groups with this ignorant line — children who are 'rich' (though he hasn't defined what he believes the standard for being rich is) will easily get bored of expensive toys while poor children will stay happy with their marbles because they cannot aspire to anything else.

Lest Hyatt forget, for more than half the population of children in Pakistan, new toys, let alone a PS5, is merely a dream. They live on hand-me-downs and even those sometimes come with strings attached. So his line about letting them eat cake, ahem, we mean letting them play with marbles is super tone-deaf.

"Also, happiness is relative. For every chap you see on the news crying they can’t make ends meet, there are people who are wonderfully grateful," he wrote. To diminish the severity of a person crying because they cannot make ends meet is baffling. To equate them with those who are "wonderfully grateful" is simply making light of their pain.

Yes, happiness is relative, but you're addressing a nation where people take their own lives because of financial constraints. Can Hyatt not see how insensitive and belittling his remarks are? We suppose his privilege also gives him a sense of false security that people from such social economic background won't actually see his tweets.

And this coming from a celebrity is rich (pun intended).

You're Rohail Hyatt, the Rohail Hyatt. If you wanted a job, offers would pour in. Yes, they might not all be glamorous jobs but there will be job offers. While tweeting all this, you've been sharing pictures of a "new project".

For the man "crying on the news", no matter how many CVs he sends and how much he begs, a job might not be easily available. His children will go hungry because everyone else he knows is likely in the same boat. He might not have a family to rely on or friends who could lend him money — there's a chance they're in equally dire straits and are "crying on the news" too. What then should he do?

Eat at a mazaar, Hyatt suggests. "No stress."

It is impossible to read Hyatt's tweets without seeing the privilege they ooze. You might not have the money to pay your bills in 2022? People don't have the money to eat today.

Rohail Hyatt, when you can't relate to people who don't have expensive things to sell, do not diminish their hardships. A rich man's poverty is very different from a poor man's poverty. Yes, a rich man can be "poor" while still being able to own a vehicle, his own home and knowing that he will have food to eat — and that discussion is a pertinent one which should be had without this meaningless comparison.

We don't want to diminish other people's struggles as we understand that suffering is relative but we don't want Hyatt to be allowed to do so either and to falsely claim to "know poverty" without having the slightest inkling of it. Perhaps there was a time that he was down on his luck and had to live hand to mouth but then he should speak ONLY of his own experience and not making sweeping statements like being rich can be harder.

We also don't think it's our perception of a "negative world" that's the problem here — the problem seems to be Hyatt's ill-formed perceptions of poverty. People struggling to make ends meet and to put food on the table isn't something beautiful — it's a sad reality that affects hundreds of thousands of people across the country. Poverty porn may seem lovely to the rich — the glorification of suffering in order to promote "gratitude" for what one has — but for the people who actually have to struggle, it's hell. People can be grateful for what little they have but it is for them to express that gratitude, not you, Rohail Hyatt. You cannot speak on their behalf.

At a time when the prices of goods in Pakistan are higher than ever and petrol is at an all-time high, to say that being rich is or even can be harder is not just elitist, it's downright wrong.

No one is saying that the rich don't have problems, but their problems are very different from those faced by the poor. No one should have to worry about where their next meal is coming from or how they will afford to pay their bills and by minimising their struggles, Rohail Hyatt is showing a stunning lack of understanding and empathy.

If I have no money I will go eat at a mazaar, he said, as if life is that simple. It's easy to say but not half as easy to do. That's the equivalent of, 'if you're unemployed get a job' or if 'you're homeless, rent a house'. It's unrealistic and elitist. These are not the solutions he thinks they are.

Rohail Hyatt, have some empathy for the people who are losing their homes, the people who have to cut down on a meal a day because they literally can't afford to eat more, the people who will have to walk instead of taking a bus or rickshaw because fuel prices are rising and they cannot afford the added expense. Their suffering should not be minimised so you can make a point about politics and 'gratitude'.


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Abbasshah Oct 19, 2021 06:57pm
Means eat cake when there is no Roti.
Mehmood Oct 19, 2021 08:04pm
Rohail Hayatt seems to be a genuinely nice guy. Its not difficiult to be picky and criticise every thing one says.
Hasnain Khan Oct 19, 2021 08:48pm
Fastrack Oct 19, 2021 09:48pm
All this because of you know what? He liked Imran Khan. As simple as that.
Khan Oct 19, 2021 11:22pm
He is a PTI supporter ... what do you expect wisdom and maturity?!
Mani Oct 20, 2021 01:56am
Rohail has the right ideas but used wrong words or analogies. When everything is said and done, it’s all about happiness. Having little and being content is better than having a lot and not being content.
Sameer Oct 20, 2021 07:47am
Words taken out of context
Javed Oct 20, 2021 07:57am
He is right. Haven’t you stood before your cavernous walk-in wondering what to wear for the casual evening.
Abood Oct 20, 2021 08:45am
@Fastrack yes because such people are the reason for the misery we are in.
Ali Mehdi Oct 20, 2021 09:04am
We make foolish statements n try to cover it up with even more complicated statements.
NYS Oct 20, 2021 09:41am
Eloquent chap
Tariq Oct 20, 2021 10:28am
Rohail has every right to give his opinion given certain boundaries and people who don't reconcile his view are free to disagree but in certain limits also.
Shujaat Khan Oct 20, 2021 11:41am
He should just stick with Coke!
Nawaz Oct 20, 2021 02:28pm
Don't know why ppls get offended by the word "jahil", when there is overflowing majority of such ppls in the country. It's like they don't want to see the mirror.
Helping hands Oct 20, 2021 05:42pm
Haters will hate
Tuk Oct 20, 2021 06:13pm
He would not survive a single day of a poor begging child's life!
Just Saying Oct 20, 2021 08:55pm
Rich have their own issues and poor their own. You can not understand if you have not been one. Just interaction with one does not give you the feeling. I can spend 5 years working with poor in poor community and it won’t give me the feeling of the one who is worried about next meal for his/her kids. Just show empathy to fellows whether poor or rich and treat them as humans respectfully in same manner.
Anonymouseee Oct 20, 2021 09:29pm
United we stand, divided we fall.
TZaman Oct 20, 2021 11:09pm
This guy has been nonsensical since the beginning of his career with Vital Signs. Did not change a bit in all these years.
Watchmann Oct 22, 2021 08:12am
@Shujaat Khan: And not be disturbed by the presence of Pepsi! That is difficult life choice!