Privilege versus Entitlement – What Makes the Difference?

It’s a funny thing, privilege. You might not even know you have it until you’re made aware of it. And even then, it can be hard to see.

Privilege is like an invisible force field, protecting you from the everyday struggles that others must endure. It’s an advantage that you didn’t ask for and that you can’t control. But just because you didn’t ask for it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t acknowledge it. In fact, acknowledging your privilege is an important step in creating a more just and equitable world. So the next time someone calls you out on your privilege, don’t get defensive. Listen and learn. It might just be the most important lesson you ever learn.

I look into entitlement vs privilege in my new upcoming book . In this article, I explore how our nation has become a breeding ground for entitlement, and how that entitlement is eroding our collective sense of empathy. I also offer some solutions for how we can move forward together to create a more just and equitable society.

Privilege versus Entitlement – What Makes the Difference?

For those raised in affluent or influential families, it’s easy to take for granted a comfortable home and having your basic needs met with love and abundance.  That could extend to the travels you take and the opportunities that open up for you by meeting people in your social circle.

In recent years, the words “entitled” and “privileged” have taken on new pejorative meanings. What they really say depends on how you perceive the edge that an affluent upbringing affords you. 

Having privilege means having an advantage that is out of your control and that you didn’t ask for. You may not even notice it until you educate yourself about its existence. Privileged is defined as “having special rights, advantages, or immunities,” which too often is interchanged with the word entitled. 

Entitled on the other hand is defined as “believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.” The idea that one feels as though they are better than someone else for no reason is something that is taught. This is entitlement. Whereas, being dealt a good hand due to luck is privilege. 

So, why has entitlement become something bad? In this case, it’s defined as a personality trait based on a belief that certain people deserve privileges or recognition for things that they did not earn. 

I have seen cases where elementary school students felt they should continue onto the next grade just because they came to class every day, even though they didn’t do their homework or pass their tests. This attitude is fostered by so-called helicopter parents who drop everything to deliver forgotten homework to school or, even worse, do the homework for them. 

Sadly, they are never giving their children the chance to work at a task and possibly fail, which would build the valuable skill of resilience. These are the same parents who expect their children to receive medals for participating without the incentive of trying to earn one for pushing themselves to achieve more.

If you’re interested in exploring this topic further, I encourage you to check out my book. Sign up now for information about its release.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Do you think entitlement is a problem in our society? If so, what do you think is the cause? And most importantly, what can be done to change it? I look forward to hearing from you!

1 Comment

  1. Claire Todd on August 11, 2023 at 4:07 pm

    When did the meaning of the word “entitlement” get perverted? It *did* mean something one was entitled to receive, something one had earned, for instance, Social Security benefits. When a person pays INTO the Social Security fund during their working years, they are then *entitled* to receive benefits when they retire; They earned those benefits, didn’t they? Why would they not be “entitled” to those benefits? Is there any effort being made to reclaim the word from the Republicans who have committed this perversion?

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