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Why are you rich but Charlie is not?

While chaperoning Charlie’s field trip to the Connecticut Science Center, a student asked me, “Why are you so rich, but Charlie isn’t?”

I was befuddled. I actually asked the boy to repeat himself.

“You’re rich, but Charlie isn’t,” he said. “How come?”

“What makes you think that?” I asked.

“You published a bunch of books and do comedy and stuff onstage and have a YouTube channel and TED Talks, so you must be rich, but Charlie doesn’t even have a phone.”

Crazy. Right?

And a great reminder about how perception and reality can be so different. The way the world views you is probably very different than the reality of your life.

People are almost certainly walking around with enormous misconceptions about you.

I explained to the boy that authors and storytellers and comics aren’t necessarily wealthy. “Not all authors are selling the same number of books,” I said. “And not every storyteller and comic and public speaker is raking in the dough.”

“Oh,” he said.

“And Charlie doesn’t own a phone because we don’t want him to own a phone. We care too much to give him unfettered access to a device designed to promote addiction and ultimate enslavement through the constant, relentless dispensing of dopamine and the anxiety-producing effects of social media.”

“Huh?” he said. Now, he looked befuddled.

“We’re mean parents,” I said. “We won’t let him have a phone.”

“Oh,” he said. “Poor Charlie.”

But not poor in a monetary sense anymore.