There has been a lot of pixels spent explaining to all and sundry that geek culture, such as it is, is ‘toxic’. Or that elements of it are. And this is often accompanied with a certain level of finger pointing, self-flagellation, and promises to be better. I even wrote about it in the wake of Kelly Marie Tran’s leaving of Instagram over this toxic culture.

But it hit me last night that it isn’t geek culture that’s toxic. Or, that isn’t a feature exclusive to geek culture.

It’s all of it. The whole damn culture is toxic. There isn’t one area that we can avoid the contamination, not one safe space in the culture as a whole. I look around, and I see the commercials with lines like ‘get the rewards you deserve’, and it all becomes clear.

We, as a whole, got used to the idea that we exist to be pandered to. From credit cards telling us to ‘get the rewards we deserve’ to mortgage providers selling instant approval (or declination, but let’s not mention that) to apps that forward portions of your check so you don’t have to learn to budget. All of these are symptoms of a culture that is poised to devour itself.

I look at these things, and all I see is a desire to be rewarded for doing things that are not reward-worthy, and a deeper desire for immediate gratification regardless of cost. We are told we ‘deserve’ a reward for using this or that credit card. The reward is they let you buy something you actually can’t afford, and you pay them for the privilege. You don’t deserve rewards for that. We are constantly bombarded with the word ‘deserve’. We deserve service, cash back, to be first, to be exclusive, to be young, to have all the things. We don’t, actually. We deserve to be allowed to live our lives as we see fit without being forced to comply with someone else’s beliefs. We deserve the right to pursue happiness, so long as that pursuit doesn’t infringe upon another’s pursuit of the same. We deserve the right to life. We deserve equality of opportunity (equality of outcome is amongst the vilest of evils, and we never deserve that). We deserve only what can be said to be deserved by all, at birth, regardless of station. Double cash back isn’t on that list.