Am I a ‘privileged f*ck’? Yep, guilty as charged. (But guess what? So are you!) ~ Ben Ralston

Via Ben Ralston
on Aug 23, 2011
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I’m a therapist. I heal trauma. That’s what I do for a living.

I could tell you some tales that would, perhaps, chill you to the bone. Perhaps not though – we’ve all lived a little haven’t we? We all have our skeletons, our shadows, our stories.

I’m also a yoga teacher. I spent 12 years teaching yoga full time.

I worked for a year as a youth worker. The hardest, most challenging, rewarding, uplifting, depressing, worst paid job I’ve ever done.

And I’m a writer, and a long time ago, before I had a clue what I wanted to do (when all I knew was what I didn’t want to do) I was an actor. A pretty bad one. I embarrassed myself spectacularly many times.

If I had ever wanted to be rich; if money had ever been a motivating factor in my career choices… I would not have chosen any of the above paths.

And yet I’ve been called a

“money-grabbing charlatan”

(by people who don’t know me, but have read an article of mine online, and believe themselves to suddenly be in a position to discern who I am, and to pass judgment, publicly).

I’ve also been called:

“an arrogant ignoramus, an opportunistic charlatan” (by ‘Monique’). And a:

“Huge Douche… trying to capitalize off of others genuine need to feel better about themselves” (‘Tracy’).

‘Kim’ said that I:

“Cause psychic pain”, and “shame fragile and suggestible people, filling their minds with crap”.

She went on to say that I “use technology… with the entitled-ness and lack of awareness of an infant”

And she finished kindly educating me with these choice words:

“All you are is stigma in another form, dude”,

followed by:

“…a malignant narcissist bordering on a sociopath… you bilk people out of money, and capitalize on human suffering”.


(The above ‘quotes’ are comments in response to a single article that I originally published on Elephant Journal.)

Scary huh? It’s not like I wrote that I enjoy biting small children’s heads off whilst worshiping Satan and chopping down rainforests – I was writing about healing trauma!

In another article ‘Del’ said:

“You [Mr. Ralston] are a fool… it seems your head has become lodged in your ass.”

I could go on and on… these are just a few of the examples on offer. And I’m just one of many writers here at Ele Journal (and all over the internet) who get this kind of ridiculous ‘criticism’.

Notice a pattern to the above? Yep, they all have the courage to shout their (fairly vitriolic) opinions from the rooftops, but not enough courage to leave their names. Anonymous name-calling. Welcome to the era of intelligent high-speed communication.

Another article earned me the lovely moniker “privileged fuck” (yes, anonymously).

And you know what? Here’s the thing: ‘Fuck’ I understand. I get that – he wanted to insult me, right? And using swearwords to insult is usually a fairly safe bet. Like when someone says “I had your Mother last night”, often abbreviated simply to “Yo Mamma”. (Apparently a very high percentage of young adult males in the British prison system are there as a direct result of someone telling them those three simple syllables). Effective!

But what is insulting about being called privileged? I didn’t get it.

And then something pretty strange started happening. I started seeing the word ‘privileged’ being used as an insult all over the place.

Most notably, when Waylon Lewis (EJ’s editor in chief / owner / oh sod it, he IS EJ isn’t he?) reacted a little over-emotionally to an insinuation that he was racist. Suddenly people are popping up all over the place calling him ‘privileged’. Sometimes even, ‘a privileged white man’. Again, as an insult.

So here’s my point:

Waylon is privileged, so am I, and so are you. If you’re reading this on a monitor or a laptop, at home or in an internet café, you are privileged. You are privileged if you had something to eat today. You are privileged if you have clean drinking water.

If you are alive, you are privileged.

So we’re all ‘privileged fucks’, okay?

And if some people seem more privileged than you are, you know what? Great! Be happy for them. They probably earned it. And if they didn’t, so what? Privilege is something that we all crave, somehow or another. It’s certainly not an insult!

Oh, and while I’m at it…

Those of you who (anonymously) hate on the internet – there are better ways to spend your time than reading the blogs of the people you hate and compulsively attacking each and every one of their comments with ‘thumbs down’. (Whatever it is that you think about that person, you’re wrong.)

Does this deserve even a single 'thumb down'? Let alone 6?! Or do people use the thumbs as a way of trying to hurt people they 'hate'?





Really. It’s a waste of your precious, precious time. Take a deep breath, leave the computer. Go smell some flowers, or look up at the sky for a while, or sing a song. Failing all else, study and memorize this flow chart with the aim of decreasing your ‘dick rating’, slowly, one day at a time:

Sheer comic genius:

On the other hand, if you like something… spread the love! Share, ‘like’, Tweet, Stumble it, and most importantly, leave a comment – nicely 😉


About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston is a therapist, healer, advanced Sivananda Yoga teacher, and writer. His writings have been read by millions of people and can be found on Elephant Journal, Rebelle Society, and various other portals online. He has been teaching Yoga for 16 years in hotels, ashrams, beaches, gyms and rooftops worldwide. And he runs a busy international therapeutic practice from his home in rural Croatia. Offering sessions in person or via Skype, his therapeutic work is based on healing trauma, and the tools he uses for this are varied – mainly RPT, Shamanism, and energy work. He has also developed some of his own methods, particularly in the area of abuse trauma; ‘resource state’ awareness; and boundary reconstruction. He regularly runs retreats combining Yoga and other energetic exercises with his therapy. He would love nothing more than to see you on one of these retreats, since he believes that this approach to personal development is really the only effective way of bringing love and peace to global human society. Connect with Ben on Facebook. Read more of his writing on his new website with integrated blog! Yes, he's excited about that :)


71 Responses to “Am I a ‘privileged f*ck’? Yep, guilty as charged. (But guess what? So are you!) ~ Ben Ralston”

  1. Well said, Ben! Love the 'dickfinity' symbol at the end of the illustration. And to all who leave anonymous negative and/or hateful commentary: what motivates you?

  2. DaveTelf says:

    my penis is offended by the above flow-chart. he's an upstanding citizen who hardly deserves to serve as the measure for how pathetic people choose to be. he has to deal with enough internet-centric shame as it is; can't we just leave him be? (A: No.)

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Ben. I’ve felt very disturbed and disheartened by the recent firestorm here on Elephant Journal and other blogs. I’d heard it went on. But I suppose in the past, because it’s never been a personal friend, I’ve just chosen not to read it.

    Thus far I’ve chosen not to comment on any of the posts, because i felt that any additional comments would just add fuel to the fire. The only reason I’m choosing to comment here is you seem to be taking the conversation away from the said parties and to larger issues– Why can we not communicate honestly, respectfully and with dignity online?

    I read the conversations very closely, and you’re right… it was vitriolic. Hateful. Angry and fear-based. The group mentality in the comments section struck me as mob-like, as anytime someone voiced dissent the larger group rallied back with even stronger derisiveness. Ironically, many of the commenters pointed out that they experienced the same type of environment when they themselves were dissenters here at Elephant Journal. I imagine that probably true, and it makes me sad to see that many of the (probably hurt) commenters seem to be fighting fire with fire.

    I feel like one person was made a straw man, was forced to bear the brunt of many peoples’ projections. Sure, he was disrespectful. Sure he made some insensitive gestures out of anger and fear himself. But really, there are greater travesties being committed in the world than an editor responding to a comment that offended him in a reactive, derisive way. That’s not to minimize the inappropriateness of his actions, nor undercut the experience of those whose feelings were hurt as a result. But, please, let’s not forget that we’re all human beings. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” is a line that comes to mind. Apologies were made, only to be met with ridicule. Who cares if you think they’re genuine or not, leave the poor guy alone.

    In my opinion, this whole shebang was blown way out of proportion, but it highlights a very significant question we need to be asking ourselves in the online community. How do we engage with people we disagree w/ with respect and compassion?

    For me, it starts with turning the spotlight on myself. Will the words I’m about to utter (or type) contribute to more peace or create more violence in this world? Will my words build connections or divide us further? Am I about to speak words the ‘other’ can hear, or do I need to convey my message in silence?

    With the utmost respect to all involved,


  4. missbernklau says:

    HAHAHA Some more EJ gold from Ben Ralston! Thanks, Ben, well said :)

  5. kurlykim says:

    Loving it!
    I of course, am not the Kim that abused you – although we have had some interesting exchanges! Keep on keeping on Ben…Hari Om :)

  6. Funny stuff, Ben. No matter how bad an actor you claim to have been, I think you might need to take this show on the road :) The chart is of the chain.

  7. Ha, I totally relate to this.

  8. holy trolly says:

    what is anonymous? the non-anonymous is just a version of who we think is appropriate for the given audience. maybe ben ralson is an exception, fully open and there 100% himself, home address on his profile etc, but most people are frightened with good reason to expose themselves, as their opinions and positions will be held against them forever (aka one week on the internet) by co-workers, family and internet “friends”. if a comment relies not on an argued point but instead on the expertise of the poster, who cant even provide a link to support their argument, its an iffy point at best.

    trolling is a wonderful and beautiful thing, showing us our horriblity always hidden at the surface, and we are all trolls in one way or another, pushing our agendas for the sake of legitimizing them, just not everyone gets paid for it. so its ok to talk to trolls if you want to take the effort, just be nice, ask for specifics and express concern for their well being. its pretty funny to get people so pissed they become introspective, but cultivating this humor takes some time and effort- we write for ourselves after all.

  9. chiaraghiron says:

    Hi Ben

    I went back and read through this and the previous conversation on RPT and this had several effects
    1. made me interested in the RPT stuff, will look more into it as it sounds potentially very good although I must say (also from looking into the website which I admittedly have done too rapidly so far) that some of the phrasing used feels a bit 'weasely' in the sense that it claims science without really giving peer-reviewed references. I am a bit over-suspicious as I come from a scientific background, was brainwashed into compulsory reference-finding but as I said I need to study more on this before drawing conclusions
    2. made me think about the aggressiveness we see going on, and made me wonder whether this is partly (subconsciously) elicited by the blogging practice itself, I mean, if we elect to share our thoughts with unknown people we certainly must be prepared to meet the nice and the ugly and confront consequences  and partly a consequence of this now so popular method of instant communication, with its many positive and also many negative consequences. As the Latins said, verba volant, scripta manent, words pass, writings stay and unfortunately we are getting used to writing too much in the same tone as we speak. Which of course does not justify the rudeness that people seem to show. I myself used some poor sarcasm in the now infamous EJ/Waylon incident (accident? somebody actually got hurt in fact) and I regret it now. But I learnt, and as was told off I am signing with namesurname now, so I will be fully traceable for all my rantings
    3. made me curious to find out more about EJ. I started to read it from a post in one of my LinkedIn groups, got pretty. pissed off when I found I had to pay to read it, decided to invest 12 bucks in it and I am now totally puzzled. As many before me have commented, I came to it with a hope to find some enlightened/educated readings (and you will be pleased to know that your posts fall in this category) but was disturbed (big word I know, a bit exagerated perhaps) to also find not so funny posts (the by now infamous video + worldmap), a strange understanding of yoga (the recent bikram is better than ashtanga debate), praise of questionable companies (american apparel, its adverts and its management) and most of all the comments posted almost everywhere, with people bashing at each other with a vehemence I had not seen in years. And certainly not expected…

    I am not sure whether this rant actually addressed your question, but  I feel it sort of did, at least I hope…. bottom line, I agree that many people commenting on EJ seem to privileged enough to have the time to design and post hurtful comments, maybe from their tablets sitting in a coffee shop sipping some green tea. 


  10. yogi tobye says:

    No'wt as strange as folk Ben!

  11. monkeywithglasses says:

    Simply. Fabulous. Keep up the good work and don't let the haters get you down.

  12. Susan Seiler says:

    Well said. Loved the flow chart. Keep writing.


  13. Nousha says:

    Nicely said!
    I'm so glad that you are so privileged to write in this blog and I am so privileged to read it.
    This world is full of angry people,may they find their way out it.

  14. Sara Young says:

    I get a lot of hate email. You know what I do? I feel sorry for them. That fixes em good!

  15. Andréa Balt says:

    Ben, after all the dickery is sorted through, all that’s left is awesomeness. When people either hate you or love you, you know you’re on to something good. I haven’t read many of your articles but those I have were nothing short of eye-openers. I’m sure that for each hater, there are at least 10 or more privileged fucks who appreciate your words. I’m one of them.

    Chart = genius.

  16. Manda says:

    I rarely comment (here or anywhere) but I felt that this time I should. Ben, I read your articles with pleasure. I find most all that you write to be well worth my time, and thought provoking. Sometimes I even cross-post them! 😉 Just wanted to let you know that at least one more person out there in internet-land finds what you do to be very well worth it! So, thanks!

    Also, love that flowchart. I saw it somewhere a few days ago and forwarded it to my facebook wall… there are a few people I know who should have it tacked on the wall beside their computer I think. 😉

  17. elaine says:

    So funny!

    I ran across this piece on privilege when I was following another internet blow up that actually made some headlines. Pretty good little story. We easily recognize when others have privilege. Not so much when we do.

  18. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  19. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    I love this article Ben as I've read everything you have posted and sometimes I really cannot understand the negativity, especially because of the positive messages you are sending out and also because this is Elephant Journal, know what I mean?! it's so strange! But perhaps they came to the right place if healing and compassion is what they need. :-)

    And, I really love all of the responses above. Thank you so much for being here.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  20. Laura says:

    I love your articles, Ben – look for 'em, in fact. Keep rockin' and let the haters hate. m/

  21. Nooshi says:

    Hahaha, dickfinity- freakin classic!

    Personally, I happen to enjoy your articles. I find them to be insightful, humorous, and REAL. Thank you for that.

    I think that some people are just miserable, and want nothing more than to spread their misery far and wide. And what more efficient way than to do it electronically…and anonymously? It’s way easier to be negative and fuck up someone’s day without any real repercussions.

    Keep doing what you do, man. You are appreciated. Namaste.

  22. LAFinfinger says:

    LOVE and thank you for this.

  23. Ben, this is a phenoenal article. Thanks for writing it.

  24. Shay says:

    You are …. so refreshing!!

    Shay Jones

  25. I really like this post Ben! It amazes me how much time people spend insulting others on the internet. Other than elephant, I usually choose not to read the comments on most articles on the internet because there is so much negativity and so little insight. I wish your flowchart could be incorporated into pop-up screens to question people before they post insulting comments. Also, your post reminded me of a piece by Mark Morford (San Francisco Chronicle columnist), "Why are you so terribly disappointing?" See:

  26. Joe Sparks says:

    Ben, I enjoy your writing, do not stop. Your perspective and point of view is valuable and worth reading. However, I am not at all surprized on the negative comments people make, it is unfortuante, but telling how much we all have been put down and attacked for our thinking. Our culture is saturated with it. We grow up being humiliated and embarrassed for our thinking from day one. People are hurting, and our showing you where they got hurt as an attempt to get unaware attention on it. We all need hundreds of hours of loving attention in our direction. We all have hateful feelings, but most of us internalize them, except for the few who will post them as comments. We work so hard not to spill our hateful feelings on others and then get triggered / upset when others who have patterns that act them out. We all our vulnerable to being hurt, but need to focus and put our attention on people who value and appreciate us.

  27. Well, now I MUST go read that first article!

    Witty and thoughtfully written post, and I do love the message. To insult me for my privilege (as a white person, a middle-class person, an educated person, etc.) says so little. It's obviously designed to make us feel badly about ourselves, but it's like insulting someone for having brown hair or being tall. Not only is it ridiculous and ignorantly obvious, but it says more about the insulter than the insultee.

  28. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  29. I would also like to add, if I may, that I have penis flow chart envy.

  30. Right F*cking On! Namaste, Bro!

  31. Mat witts says:

    I think there is something yo are not seeing Ben, or if you are, then you do not deserve much sympathy. the vocabulary and tone of your posts inflames. The imperatives at EJ are to catch the eye, (it is an advertising model after all). So there is a type of collusion that goes on between editors and writers that makes people over-respond. You cannot wave a flag and say- hey look at me, I am over here, and the tell people to fuck off if they don't agree with your views. It is a bit childish when yo take up a whole page with your shit and EJ only gives people tiny little boxes to try and keep things straight from their POV. It is a broken format and writing about therapy in such a heated way probably opens as many wounds for people as it does heal them for others. Take the hint, if people are getting wound up by your writing, it is YOUR problem as much as it is theirs, this would be a more responsible attitude. Suck it up and continue writing, but don't complain about your audience, it just comes across as a tantrum. The people that post anon Do so because they do not want to associate themselves with the feelings they are having, this is normal defence mechanism type and – calling yourself a therapist you should perhaps know that?

  32. Jen says:

    Hi Ben,

    Your posts are frequently thought-provoking and not because I agree with you, I frequently don't, but because you pose questions and share sentiments that force me to consider my own attitudes. That is valuable dialogue and I appreciate it.

    As for being privileged, being offended is an opportunity to re-asses how you may or may not be enacting all of the various "isms" of the world. We all have our own set of privileges and disadvantages.


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  35. juliekru says:

    Oh dear, you've created a life and a satisfactory one for yourself – actually, you sound like a very interesting person, I didn't know you had done all of those things. Those people who are nasty are hurting, and I know you know that, but why do they comment? A thesis could follow. I also don't understand the need for people to comment negatively about something regardless. I love that you are the way you are. I think you add a lot to the world, you have a fabulous energy, and I adore the flow chart particularly the 'dick finity' bit., and I adore what you present …. to all of us…..

  36. Jessica says:

    Ben, thank you for having the guts to be in the arena to fight the good fight. People who feel called to heal, are sensitives who consciously take off their armor for the sake of others. The harsh critics are those who are numb from building walls around their hearts and wounds. So yes, it helps to have compassion for them. I think its much harder for the unarmored feeler types (vs armored thinker types) to have virtual tomatoes thrown at them. That’s why most of us choose to stay behind the scenes (fear of getting wounded by the critics) so Kudos to you. We preach peace but that doesn’t mean we should endure verbal abuse. I think you are setting healthy virtual boundaries and that’s necessary when you are putting yourself out there. Don’t hold yourself to superhuman standards either. Words don’t always convey our intentions but that’s ok because the people who follow you know your heart and only their opinions should carry cred. I recommend not even reading the harsh critics comments so you don’t absorb their yucky energy. Keep writing imperfectly valuable stuff knowing that you have tribe that will extract the good stuff and be fed by it! Blessings!

    (Hoping that made sense-no time to edit- typing on the go with a huffy puffy daughter in the back seat lol)

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