Do you know who Sheryl Sandberg is or why she might possibly be of importance? If not, you can read TLP on the subject. (Short version: she is permitted to exist because her existence sells middle-class women on the idea of working harder for the same amount of money.) You can also read my thoughts on her Surprising! Survival! of a plane crash that occurred while she was somewhere else.
Two year ago, Mrs. Sandberg’s (second) husband died. Dave Goldberg was a VP at Yahoo Music when he met Sandberg, who was a VP at Google. The most fervent Jew-haters at the Chateau Heartiste couldn’t come up with a more stereotypical story than this bloodless partnership of two oddly wealthy, work-obsessed people whose last name contains “berg” and whose entire reason for notability revolves around yet a third “berg” — Mark Zuckberg of Facebook fame.
But then Sheryl (Maiden Name) Sandberg became SHERYL SANDBERG, and her husband became a nonentity. Maybe a better way to say it would be that Dave was always a nonentity. He was always one of these people who bumbles around NorCal and repeats the right buzzwords and earns a mid-six-figure salary because of it. Much of the American economy as it currently exists revolves around people like this. They drive a non-F-model Lexus and they are house-poor and they clog up the line at Whole Foods because they are asking unnecessary questions. They support “Black Lives Matter” from the security of their gated communities. They drive a Prius for the environment but breathlessly boast about brief rides on the company jet. They are interchangeable. They have mastered duckspeak. Their primary value is in never having said or done anything that prevents further mild advancement in the hierarchy.
But then Sheryl became a billionaire, earning more in a week than her husband does in a year. So Dave faded into potbellied, underdressed obscurity. Having become completely unnecessary to the Sandberg Five-Year plan, he then had the decency to die, so Sheryl could write a book about how she survived this tragedy.
The book is called Option B and it will tell you how Sheryl Sandberg coped with her grief. Most of it was written by someone else, the same way Lean In was obviously ghostwritten. When you have a billion dollars, you don’t write a fucking book. Books are written by people whose time would be essentially worthless in any other occupation, like welfare recipient J.K. Rowling or noted alcoholic Ernest Hemingway. It would be more accurate to say that Sheryl purchased this book for the purposes of resale, because the selling of this book makes it slightly less likely that Facebook will terminate her in the foreseeable future.
Although Option B has many celebrity endorsers, including that Malala person, I can tell you with certainty that you don’t need to read it. Sheryl Sandberg’s definition of suffering has nothing to do with yours. This is a woman who has no idea what suffering and struggle might possibly be. Everything single thing that I have ever heard her say regarding her late husband would be equally applicable to a private-school girl whose best friend moved away to another city. “He was my rock,” she would say, which is exactly what Mike Pence or Mitt Romney would say about their wives. “I couldn’t have done it without him.” Couldn’t have done what? Lucked into a billion dollars? I assure you, and her, that the absence or presence of Dave Goldberg made no difference to that.
Let me tell you something that will offend you because it is true: Men are far more likely to commit suicide over losing their job than they are likely to commit suicide over the loss of a child. The latter is a tragedy; the former is an attack against the self, often a devastating one. Children and spouses used to die all the time, you know. Only in the late twentieth century did we start to get the idea that we’d all make it to the secular afterlife of wealthy retirement. So we shouldn’t wonder than Sheryl has effortlessly manipulated and monetized this tragedy. It just wasn’t that big of a deal in the context of her fairytale life. If anything, it adds a little bit of necessary seasoning, makes her more likable, makes her feel more deserving of the billions. As long as the billions keep coming.
Truly, it would be impossible for Mrs. Sandberg to have a tragedy now. Her money is permanent, immutable, too powerful to wither in her lifetime. She’d have to spend a million dollars a day to significantly impact it, like Richard Pryor did in one of his lesser-regarded films. She is insulated. She is safe. You, on the other hand, are still very much at risk. As am I. And very few of us have any “Option B” whatsoever.