Joshua Eaton

Independent Journalist

Coming Out of the Debt Closet: My Story

The  "Master of Degrees" strikes a pose

The “Master of Degrees” strikes a pose

LAST week I came out to my 1000 some-odd Twitter followers as a delinquent debtor. I’m not really that delinquent—I’m two weeks behind in one credit card payment—but it’s still extremely personal. And I still had to build up a lot of courage to do it.

There are two main points I was trying to make. The first is that—as activists, writers, journalists, and intellectuals—we shouldn’t waste experiences like this. No life is private; we all live embedded in legal frameworks, political systems, histories, economies, and social structures. We’ve got to point those out to people. Otherwise things like debt become personal tragedies and not social problems. We’ve got to let people know we’re in this together, because they often cannot bear it on their own.

The second is that we need to break the shame and stigma around financial hardship. People aren’t going to let go of their narrow prejudices about people who experience financial hardship unless they learn those people are their friends, relatives, neighbors, partners, children, and loved ones. And hardship is always easier when it isn’t borne in isolation.

Enough explanation. Here’s the thread:




















  1. “The second is that we need to break the shame and stigma around financial hardship.”

    No disrespect intended personally, but the only shame and stigma surrounding financial hardship is that many people refuse to live at, or below, their means. It seems to me that more people find shame and stigma in being perceived as poor, or in not being able to keep up with the Joneses.

    Of course, there are sometimes circumstances beyond our control, but most people choose not to prepare themselves for the worst case scenario, and when a rainy day eventually comes, their world falls apart.

    IMO, there’s no shame and stigma in financial hardship when someone has done their best to be prepared for the inevitable. However, I have absolutely no sympathy for those who want to live beyond their means, and than whine about their circumstances when they mismanaged their own finances.

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