As though he is not busy enough at the Olympics winning every race he is in (he got the gold in the 100 m—of course—and was first in the first round of the 200 m), I got spammed by him this morning. Well, I got spammed by someone with the same name. What are the odds? You would think Bolt would make enough money with his Puma sponsorship, but I guess not. He has to stoop to spamming. What a waste!
There is something serious here: Usain Bolt “didn’t build that” in a more fundamental way than any public figure in America will admit. The man is six foot five inches. He could not have been a world class marathon runner, regardless how hard he worked. Similarly, if he had been five foot five inches, he could not have been a world class sprinter.
I have great admiration for Bolt, but what he has was given to him: by genes, environment, and luck. It is right to hold up his accomplishments as a sign of what humans can do. But it is wrong to pretend that he is doing anything but what comes naturally. And note: he wouldn’t be as revered or well compensated if his talents tended toward, say, lacrosse.
Let me give some examples. People who are exceptional at math also enjoy it or they never would have gotten so good. People who read a lot of books don’t do it through force of will; they enjoy reading. And a man who runs 100 meters in 9.63 seconds (0.05 seconds off his record) does it because he loves it.
The bootstrap myth that Americans just love is total rubbish. Not everyone can grow up to be Usain Bolt. Not everyone can grow up to be President. Not everyone can even grow up to collect carts in the Walmart parking lot.
Perhaps if we had a more equitable society, all people could focus on adding value to the society. The spam culture is the truest manifestation of the “profits above all” mentality of capitalism gone wild. If Usain Bolt didn’t have great speed and generous sponsors, what would he do? He would only have to be two tenths of a second slower—much faster than anyone I know—to be poor. I’m sure there are many impressive people who are part of the army of spammers who attack me each night. And that is a waste—for me and them.