ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Surviving the Inevitable Affluenza Pandemic

Updated on August 17, 2017
By Tellmeimok (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Tellmeimok (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Field Notes From a Case Study

"Drowning all his sorrows on his family's private beach" sounded like a really good idea to him when his mother mentioned it. Two weeks of heavy binge-drinking and drug-cocktailing did not help this victim we will call "Thurston" to feel better about himself or his over-privileged life.

Now his new Italian wingtips handmade from virgin leather "cows that never had sex" are soaking wet and have sand in them. He has been neither willing nor able to take them off because he has never learned how to retie them. He considered bringing a servant with him in his Porsche convertable for that purpose, but decided that all those available "made his car look too poor and ugly."

Researcher: Do you think you can try tying your own laces?

(Subject is signaling that he can't hear me with pantomimed hand signals that exemplify Thurston's favored form of humor. He calls this and all similar behaviors bro-taunting.)

Researcher: Bro, your feet have been in those shoes for two weeks now. I'll totally walk you through tying them. No sweat involved, easy-peasy, I promise.

Thurston: I don't think you really are my brother. Tying is a servant's job, which anyone who isn't a pauper already knows every bit as well as the Yale Fight Song! You can't just lie about being at Yale and get away with it, you know. If I tell someone, I bet they electrocute you in prison.

Researcher: I graduated Summa Cum Laude.

Thurston: Oh please, that doesn't even sound like a real fraternity.

Researcher: It isn't. How can I explain this? I went to Yale on a full academic scholarship.

Thurston: OMG! Why didn't you tell me that you're just a peasant? Untie my shoes this instant, peasant! I command you!

Researcher: Yes, I'll do that for you, but first I need to finish all my research work.

Thurston: How incredibly boring for you! I'll just wait over there, then. Why do they let paupers into Yale, anyway? What did you even do there all day?

Usually Thurston shops when he feels this "under the weather," which is often. He has expressed that he is "a true genius at shopping." It makes him feel accomplished. He wants to shop right now to replace his wet leather shoes but can't. He left his latest smartphone in his latest Porsche convertible. Unfortunately, he parked his car too close to the water at low tide today with the top down. Now since he can't see it, he assumes that poor people have stolen it from him. He wonders why poor people would steal a car nearly a whole year old now and "risk the electric chair" when they "could just buy a newer model year Ferrari convertible, instead." Thurston admits that he will never understand poor people.

He has insurance that covers the "theft" but isn't going to file a claim. He doesn't like "sitting on the wrong side of a big desk signing things" but if he has to, wants to do that while buying a new Ferrari convertible instead. He now has decided to buy two Ferrari convertibles of the latest model year in his favorite "colors" black and white so that he has a spare one to drive "just in case the poor people return."

Does "Thurston" remind you of yourself? If not, you probably don't suffer from Affluenza. Some people believe that Affluenza is a communicable disease, mostly afflicting our best and brightest (or at least our richest.)

However, many more people, including the vast majority of the medical community and most of the public in general too, believe that Affluenza started out as a fun and fairly clever portmanteau, a slang word combining two real words. Portmanteaus, or portmanteaux since both plural forms are correct, are usually created to describe trends. Recent decades have given us bromance, frenemies, trustafarians, frogurt, fanzines, glamping, sexting, and chrismukkah, just to name a few. Of all portmanteaus across the decades, only Affluenza has achieved the cult status of becoming both a proposed catastrophic medical condition and a winning legal defense.

Just to recap for the people who have been getting all their news from the semaphore translation of a crystal ball reading, Affluenza entered the planetary consciousness because of a Thurston named Ethan Couch who killed four people and injured others by "driving" his truck while drunk enough to be passed out and drugged enough to be dead of an overdose, allegedly. In court, he got 10 years probation because according to his legal team, he suffers from Affluenza. The next we saw of him, he appeared in a beer pong video that may have caused just about everybody to wonder how sincerely he was abiding by the terms of his probation. That is when he and Mumsy Couch threw a hasta la vista fiesta, inviting all their friends and presumably a whole house full of other people too, then disappeared like Kaiser Sose and KS junior. That was their cunning plan, anyway. The execution of that plan wasn't quite as brilliant.

Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to Be Couches

So, whether the reality of Affluenza is real or just real enough to justify a totally made-up word, the deep scars that those sad events in Texas have left all over popular culture guarantee that the relative reality of Affluenza is really real and therefore here to stay.

So, my dear friends, may you remember that you heard it here first: Beware the coming of the dreaded Affluenza Pandemic! Cue music!

Even if an Affluenza Pandemic isn't real enough to worry about right now, it will be soon enough. Why should we all wait until the very last minute to gnash our teeth, form dodgy not-for-profits, write up our crowd-funding proposals, and hoard more emergency rations in our already ration cluttered basements? Don't wait! Let's start fixing the problem by selling these handy Affluenzapocalypse (TM) Survival Kits online in which (for the low price of $49.95 plus "tax," "shipping," and "handling") they get:

1 multi-use eye pillow filled with aroma-therapeutic cedar sawdust and grass cuttings.

1 roll of standard duct tape

1 cheap multi-tool made in China that looks impressive in photos but may break in several different places if the Thurston using it isn't super careful when sliding out the fingernail file.

1 jar of Grey Poupon (with small tag on bottom indicating it is intended for novelty purposes only since it is already several years past the expiry date.)

1 one-size-fits-all "I Survived the Affluenzapocalypse!" t-shirt that fits next to no one.

(Some call it selling a bunch of garbage and some really expensive duct tape on Ebay. Others call it a capitalist-approved DIY wealth redistribution plan.)

What are the Five Main Symptoms of Affluenza?

1. Affluenza makes the proper use of a steering wheel and brakes a near physical impossibility. Remember that the afflicted would drive more carefully and responsibly, if they could. Since they can't, the rest of us are obligated to make every allowance and help them not to need to steer or brake. We can accomplish this by diving out their way if on foot or driving out their way, by swerving our older, cheaper vehicles outside of their projected path as far and as often as necessary. Experts on Affluenza advise avoiding all proximity to expensive-looking vehicles, even ones that seem parked or unoccupied . Such conditions can change in the blink of an eye.

If only peasants would stop building things in front of the cars of their betters. When can the oppressed elite minority ever catch a break?


2. Sufferers are often puzzled by the meanings of common words, phrases, and concepts that most others in society grasp by age four. "No" is a word difficult for most victims of Affluenza to accept or even to understand fully.

An expression like "no means no" is for them a sort of brain-teaser or koen that seems to be without any meaning or correct answer. There may be a vague notion that the two identical sides balance but what does either side really equal? x equals x where x has no meaning or value at all?

The concept of "no" that other people hear and understand is never so much as suggested by the word to those with stage 5, or terminal Affluenza, also known as Affluenzheimer's. What is clearly implied to these unfortunate victims is that the word represents an obstacle between themselves and whatever they want at the moment otherwise known to them as higher good. In other words any "no" they hear is evil. In order to be moral, they must overcome "no" by any means necessary.

Instead of using this confusing word in an Affluenza victim's presence, say yes instead, but with a condition attached that will never happen. Saying "Yes, but not until my place of business closes." works well if you are a police officer. Saying "Yes, but not until we get married." works well if you are an already married woman or a black prostitute. Saying "Yes, but not until you take over and successfully run the company for a while." generally works like a charm if you are an elderly relative.

3. Those suffering Affluenza exhibit remarkably poor problem-solving in the real world. No matter how intelligent they claim to be, they often act mentally challenged or like very young children when thrown into situations outside their own narrow expertise, experience, or comfort level. When trying new things they often can become dangerous to themselves and others.

Non-sufferers must be ever-vigilant knowing that those who suffer Affluenza are constantly at risk. Whether walking their own dog or answering their own door, their potential to create mayhem should never be underestimated. Often victims find it impossible to undress or redress without the usual entourage of experienced servants there to help. Some victims have caused their own deaths while onlookers laughed innocently thinking they were being secretly filmed for a new reality TV show or witnessing a clever comedian perfecting a routine.

If you see someone at an upscale gym, spa, or hotel strangling himself with a button down or trying to remove trousers over his own head, do not try to help. Tell everyone else in the crowd to stay well back. Call 911 immediately and tell them that you suspect the victim may be struggling with Affluenza. You could save lives. In all other situations, keep in mind as you go about your day that there are always more sufferers of Affluenza out there than there are people trying to make you laugh on purpose for free.

When a Thurston and friends travel, they should take more than just one servant. | Source

4. Victims often exhibit what has been described as an inbred appearance, often but not always accompanied by pale and overly sensitive skin, a weak or recessive chin and/or pronounced jowls, buck teeth, facial tics, stiff and rehearsed speech patterns, a dim and unfocused gaze, baby soft hands, and massive and often exotic drug habits.

5.Victims tend to attract two types of friends: Those who often claim to barely know them and people they remember meeting only once who later sell exclusive stories, emails, court room testimony, grandmothers, narcotics, photographs and/or sex tapes to other people also suffering from Affluenza.

What Causes Affluenza?

Affluenza is caused by an imbalance in the distribution of wealth. In short, the wealthiest one percent are now hoarding too much wealth, over half of it as of 2016. That's right, one percent of the people on the earth own more of the world's wealth that the other ninety-nine percent all put together. Too many of us are poor. Not enough of us are solidly in the middle.

Now, before anyone concludes that Affluenza is all the fault of rich people, I say, let's not blame the afflicted for the disease. Besides, it is easy to blame poor people for everything wrong with society. So go ahead, blame us poor people for this! We don't mind. We're used to it. In fact, being the cause of all society's ills makes us feel important. But whether we make 7000 dollars a year or 700,000, we are all just poor people to them.

Since poor people like us are entirely responsible for Affluenza, I think we should try to help cure it, too. Wealth all has to go somewhere, right? I don't know about the rest of you non-Thurstons out there, but I could afford to own a little more of the world's wealth. Are you too willing to adopt a little more of the heavy burden of the elite, so that our society as a whole can become a little bit more healthy and stable?

Are you currently suffering from Affluenza or if not can you help those afflicted?

See results

A Less Humane Solution to an Earlier Outbreak of Affluenza in England during the 1970s


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      This was a fun and thought-provoking article...wonderful read!

    • Amanda Winter profile image

      Amanda Winter 

      2 years ago from Houston, Tx

      Great read! I love this!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Brilliant! A totally funny and enjoyable read, while making the reader think of he or she should respond to affluenza. "If they don't like having to live with their little rich people problems," perhaps it is because they do understand gratitude.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Word earful and intelligenct writing. Bravo!

    • Besarien profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Hi Nell Rose! I really appreciate your brilliant comment. Bad spelling on my part is ever a possibility! I'm so happy I could give you a smile today. May it be more contagious. than affluenza, Thank you for reading and letting me know what you think.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      2 years ago from England

      I smiled all the way through this, and yes as you and others have said, more and more people, not just rich are getting like this. its the, I want it and now, and if not, well I can't be bothered! and yes like others to be honest, I was just thinking, she has the titled spelled wrong! LOL!

    • techygran profile image


      2 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Dear Besarian, this is a brilliant piece of satire, reminiscent of Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" wherein the impoverished Irish Catholics of that time (18 C.) were counseled to ease their financial burdens by selling their children as food to the rich Anglo-Irish landholders.

      I have to agree with Dolores Monet that the entitlement feature of Affluenza has leaked over into the less affluent masses. I believe that there has been a spike in damaging de-sensitization to the real sufferings in this world with the advent of the Internet. Have we not all felt like we have seen and heard "it" all? Your article may at least momentarily jolt us back into some recognition of our connection and responsibility to our brothers and sisters.

    • Besarien profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Hello Dolores Monet! We either have to laugh or cry, right? I think your friend must have been having an off day. Momentary stupidity is like a head cold- it may happen to the very best of us a couple times a year. It's those people who have more "sick" days than well days we all need to avoid. They can take you down without even meaning to try.

      I'm so happy my hub gave you a chuckle. Thanks for letting me know. My day is made! By the way I'm so sorry you have flimsy appliances like me. Here's hoping our next ones are a little more sturdy and user-friendly, if not exactly sleek and sexy.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      2 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Hi Besarian, I really enjoyed reading this and like how you made what is really a terrible global problem into a quite humorous article. It's always good to laugh at social problems like this, loosens things up a bit. But of course this is a very old story isn't it. And the people with these attitudes are not restricted to the ultra rich. I know plenty of middle class people who are just as bad. A good friend of mine pointed out a rather flimsy kitchen appliance in a store - "who would bu a piece of crap like this?"

      I was surprised someone I thought that I knew so well could ask such a stupid question. "Because that's the only one they can afford," I said. I did not point out to her that the flimsy piece of crap was an updated version of my own.

      It is good to laugh sometime at the cultural blindness of some people. Thanks for the chuckle.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      2 years ago from now on

      Hey thanks Frank, I'm even funnier when I'm trying to be funny. Besarien IS the best!

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This was amazing and oh so funny Besarien. I do feel sorry for the affluenza sufferers...really...poor Thurston not even knowing how to tie or untie his laces. Fortunately I never have to worry about catching the affliction. Well written.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      2 years ago from Shelton

      Besa... I'm sorry.. but this is so good.. just loved it......... and LMAO @ tsadjatko AA group cooment

    • Besarien profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Hello emge! Somebody had to be first. Thank you for your kind words.

    • Besarien profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Hi Aviannovice! There is a pill! The problem is getting them to take it. I'm so glad you liked this hub. Thanks for letting me know.

    • emge profile image


      2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Its a wonderful post on a topic I had never read before. Well one

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Without a question, this was priceless. One question, though. Don't they have a pill for that now?

    • Besarien profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Thanks Au fait. I was worried about not enough time removing it from the original accident- which was anything but funny. Everything that came after was so ridiculous though that I couldn't quite not write it. I'm glad the spirit I intended it is pretty clear.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      2 years ago from North Texas

      Too funny! Yes, and the sad thing is that it's all true. Well done.

    • Besarien profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Hello MsDora! Thank you for your kind words. I try to feel charitable toward everyone's problems but sometimes I fail. The very idea of Affluenza makes me feel downright un-Christian.

    • Besarien profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      There is a thought poetryman6969! Maybe we can make a house full of refugees an exclusive award for exceptional shopping? Maybe a trendy gift idea? What do you give a person who has everything these days?

    • poetryman6969 profile image


      2 years ago

      Just have the most unruly refugees out of the Middle East move in with the people who have way too much money and time on their hands and that will settle their hash!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Besarien, well done! It sees that the affluenza victims lose their common sense in their "struggle" to survive in a world where they are not identified by their wealth. Wish they could be smart to see themselves the way your article portrays them. Excellent!

    • tsadjatko profile image

      2 years ago from now on

      Lol art-therapeutic modeling clay lol .

      Paula, the snack table? Well now you know that would have to be ordained by none other than Michele Obama. She has all kinds of good stuff she left out of the school menus, stuff meant for the affluent.

    • Besarien profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Hi fpherj48! Thanks for letting me know it made you laugh! As for the snack table, good question! What do you think about tap water and Wonderbread? If they didn't want to eat it they could use it as art-therapeutic modeling clay.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Besarian.....So clever and well done! I love your brand of comedy. Thanks so much for the laughs, especially via this particular situation that so outraged all humans with a brain & self-respect! LOL

      You write satire extremely well!....Terrific!~~Paula

      Tsad....."AA"........LOL! Too funny. What do you suppose they would offer on the snack table at the meetings??? LOL

    • Besarien profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Hello TSAD! I wonder if 12 steps would get them half the way there? I'm so happy you ROFLed! Thanks for letting me know.

    • Besarien profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago

      Hi billybuc! Thanks for the your sweet words. They are doing that kid no favors at all. Hitting bottom is exactly what he needs.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Such a very clever and biting satiric look at wealth in society. I have no words for the "affluenza" is beyond my comprehension how some people are completely incapable of accepting responsibility for their actions. Perfectly written!

    • tsadjatko profile image

      2 years ago from now on

      ROFLMAO, Well done! BTW can you tell me if there is an AA group (Afluenzas Anonymous), I know some millennials I'd like to send there.

      Great fianale!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)