Back in November 2022, social media influencer Lydia Millen was seen to spark controversy on the popular app ‘TikTok’ when she claimed that her heating was broken, so she therefore was going to check into the Savoy in London.
Her video, which she filmed whilst wearing an outfit worth over £30,000, sparked outrage on the app and across popular social media platforms. People began to argue that her comment was not well received in our current social climate, where people have to choose whether they should spend money on heating or groceries. For many, no matter your financial situation, problems with heating rarely resorts in a luxury stay in London.
With pressure mounting, Lydia decided to reply to comments on her video. When one individual stated “My heating is off because I can’t afford to put it on”, Lydia replied “It’s honestly heart breaking I just hope you know that other people’s realities can be different and that’s not wrong”. Sorry, Lydia; it is wrong. Realities are not different; they are miles apart. This is clearly seen in the fact that the National Institute of Economic and Social Research estimate that 1.5 million households in the UK over the next year will be landed in poverty (NIESR, 2022).
Ultimately, this is a social issue. Like Lydia said, in a society in which individuals are stratified based on their economic, cultural and social capital, we are conditioned to believe that this is just the way it is, and therefore, it is not wrong that other people have different realities. However, for me, it is not ‘different realities’, it is a matter of being able to eat and be warm versus being able to stay in a luxury hotel in London.
So, why is this a criminological issue? The cost of living crisis is simply just state inflicted poverty. Alike to Lydia with her social following, the government have the power to make change and use their position in society to remedy cost of living issues, but they don’t. This is not a mark of their failure as a government, it is a mark of their success. You only have to look at the government’s complete denial surrounding social issues to realise that this was their plan all along, and the longer this denial continues, the longer they succeed. This is seen in the case of Lydia Millen, who has acted as a metaphor for the level of negligence in which the government exercises over its citizens. Ultimately, for Lydia, it is very easy to tuck yourself into a luxury bed in the Savoy and close the curtains on the real world. The people affected by the crisis are not people like Lydia Millen, they are everyday people who work 40+ hours a week, and still cannot make ends meet. For the government, the cost of living crisis is the perfect way to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Ultimately, the cost of living crisis is not too dissimilar to the strikes that the UK is currently experiencing. Alike to the strikes, the cost of living crisis was always going to happen at the hands of a negligent government. The only way we can begin to address this problem is by giving our support, by supporting strikes all across the country, and by standing up for what is right. After all, the powers in our country have shown that our needs as a society are not a priority, so it is time to support ourselves.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
National Institute of Economic and Social Research (2022) What Can Be Done About the Cost-of-Living Crisis? NIESR [online]. Available from: https://www.niesr.ac.uk/blog/what-can-be-done-about-the-cost-of-living-crisis [Accessed 23/01/23].