Therapists will tell you not to get too discouraged when flipping through Instagram, where everyone’s seemingly fabulous lives play out in streams of infinity pools and brunch plates that obey the rule of thirds. Those plastered-on smiles aren’t real, therapists will say—they mask the yawning void of despair that exists within us all, urging us to curate a better-looking version of our lives for the benefit and envy of others.
No moment in recent history has so perfectly captured this comforting truth than the massive muck-up committed by Louise Linton, wife of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The 36-year-old posted a Monday night Instagram photo of herself stepping off a military plane onto the runway like she was someone who mattered, dressed in all white like she had all the Tide pens in the world. “Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside,” she wrote, as if #people were a useful hashtag and Kentucky were a desirable daytrip location. Then Linton tagged her #rolandmouret pants, #hermesscarf, and #tomford “sunnies,” as if any being in the universe gave a crap about the provenance of the treasury secretary’s wife’s Kentucky pants.
Manicured and serene as she looked in the photo, Linton exposed her inner gremlin in the comments, where a 45-year-old woman named Jenni Miller wrote, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable.” SPLURBJJJ. That noise was Miller’s remark hitting Linton’s exposed class-anxiety nerve dead on! Like the man she was in Kentucky to serve, Linton responded to general political criticism with personal insults based on a truly perverted understanding of the U.S. government. “Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country?” Linton wrote. “I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.” After getting guff for the comment, Linton made her account private and deleted the post, temporarily hiding her shame.
The logic in Linton’s argument could outwobble her pair of #valentinorockstudheels. Does being rich exempt hedge-fund managers like Mnuchin from criticism? Should regular people feel forever indebted to the wealthy just because they pay taxes, as is required by law? Do people whose families own literal castles, as Linton’s does, have more of a right to waste government funds than the rest of us? Maybe, maybe not—but as a public figure, Linton should have a better response to mean online comments than “lol ur poor.” If you can’t take the heat, get out of the devil’s White House!
“You’re adorably out of touch,” Linton continued in her comment to Miller, after stalking the private citizen’s Instagram account. “Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute. I know you’re mad but deep down you’re really nice and so am I. Sending me passive aggressive Instagram comments isn’t going to make life feel better.” Linton could have been writing this to herself in a therapy-mandated diary. Instagram sniping doesn’t dull the horror of human life on this planet. Only money does.