The Fantastical Grifts of White Millennial Sociopaths

Gayle Leslie
9 min readOct 1, 2023

And oh, I forgot, this fool. My bad.

George Santos

Cancel Culture: the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.

Consequence: a result or effect of an action or condition.

This is an excerpt from a more comprehensive piece I wrote on the banality of ‘whiteness.’

I’d thought to write a piece on the cascade of uber wealthy saying the quiet part out loud in recent weeks, telling us — to our faces — that all those decades of working people ‘complaining’ about the institutional racism, misogyny and classism that we intuited were keeping us on our knees, unable to prosper, to move forward, to thrive — all the reasons, the excuses these self-congratulatory gatekeepers had for not treating working folks with dignity, let alone paying them — was all in our heads. That all ‘we the people’ had to do was work harder, be sweeter and stop complaining and that we would be fine.

The self ordained ‘ruling class’ were not ‘gaslighting’ us, they were just smarter, they worked harder, they just knew better than we did what was good for us. That ‘we the people’ were lazy and ungrateful.

‘We the people’ aren’t fine. In fact, weren’t f*cking pissed and over it.

My first thought was to write about them, but lately they’ve done such a stellar job of telling us themselves, saying the quiet part out loud that I’ve elected to let these clever folks speak for themselves.

In less than one year, WeWork went from having a $47 billion valuation and being the darling of the venture capital world to needing an $8 billion infusion to avoid running out of money.”

WeWork’s fall was so catastrophic that it has generated podcasts, books, TV series, and a documentary; it is still surreally unbelievable that hundreds of mostly twenty-somethings bought what this sh*t stain was selling and left their jobs to live together in a midtown Manhattan cult only to lose their community, their homes and all hope, many landing back in their parents’ basements. And while the company was imploding Neumann and his nutty wife blew New York City for a beach holiday, taking in mammoth waves while his babies — all six of them — played in the sand.

Adam Neumann — who has never had a concrete business plan beyond his charismatic sway — pissed away hundreds-of-millions in other people’s money repeatedly and he’s still out there peddling his grifts, which keep imploding in short order.

An old friend of mine who procured art for the very wealthy for decades told me years ago that most of them didn’t work especially hard to earn their money, nor did they work to keep it. He said that, in his experience, as a demographic, the obscenely rich are not particularly intelligent, they’re just bored people. The charismatic Neumann is the ‘new shiny object’: they think he’s ‘cool’ company. They simply write off the losses on their taxes.

Once the wealth mechanisms — the shares in a given entity, the off-shoring of huge amounts of untaxed cash — are established, the money just makes more money: ‘money for nothing…’

Nice work if you can get it.

Ashton Kutcher and Adam Neumann

And oh look who came to help Adam Neumann spin his case to the ‘more money than god’ crowd for cash when they both knew the company’s implosion was imminent: do you think Kutcher offered any of those soon to be broke and homeless young true believers a life line? Do ya?

Elizabeth Holmes

In brief: Holmes dropped out of college at nineteen with a plan to raise funding for a machine that would diagnose hundreds of maladies, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer — basically anything that might make a body sick — using one single drop of blood. Without any degree in biology, chemistry or any necessary branch of science or medicine, she told investors she’d captivated with her pretty, young white girl beneficence that, not only did the technology exist, but she had somehow acquired it. And that she alone had access to it, if only she had the funds to develop the portable device and get it to market.

What I find interesting is that Elizabeth Holmes is not especially attractive, she’s pretty ordinary without the make-up and photo touch-ups. In fact, she’s a little odd looking: bulging eyes that sometimes appear crossed, blonde hair that doesn’t really look natural, a sort of puffy face. And she worked hard to alter her rather high squeaky voice into that deep raspy quality that she thought would give her more gravitas, as if to recreate herself into the ‘fake’ that she was peddling. There was never anything authentic about Holmes or her grift.

And the old men who were captivated by her didn’t see her sexually; and if they had Holmes was too immature and unsophisticated to know how to leverage it. She seems to have triggered a deeply paternalistic affection reserved for the ‘granddaughter’ with laudable aspirations who only needed some help from her ‘Gramps’ to get started. It’s as if they simply ditched all they knew about due diligence or serious inquiry into her qualifications or preparation for such an ambitious undertaking. But she was ‘the apple of Grampa’s eye who’d hung the moon’. George Schultz was the Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, what was up with that?

My Pappy was like that, I was the oldest grandbaby and I got anything I wanted: toys, ice cream, pudding, money to spend at college. And boy, I worked it. Lucky my Pappy wasn’t worth tens-of-millions of dollars to blow on my nonsense, I guess?

To be clear: the technology existed only on ‘Star Trek’. It does not exist and, given the complexities of diagnosing — let alone treating — each individual pathology, it will take hundreds of years to develop such a device, if ever.

When confronted by skeptics, then by hard evidence of her grift, they responded with defiant denial. Holmes — and her partner, Sonny Balwani — under pressure to go to market, went so far as to take the guts out of an office machine and the label off a copier to present as the ‘miracle’ device. Provided to medical facilities, the fraud put thousands of lives at risk by producing bogus results. Holmes knew it was junk: she kept taking the money.

Elizabeth Holmes stood by her grift even as she was found out and the company collapsed, leaving dozens of employees — some who’d first come to her, then to law enforcement with their doubts — wondering what had just happened to their lives.

When her faux science was finally revealed as what was actually a criminal enterprise amounting to a massive con, Holmes ‘swung for the fences’ in her efforts to minimize her legal exposure. She hastily married a much younger, very rich man and got pregnant not once but twice between the guilty verdict for three counts of wire fraud and her sentencing.

Holmes overestimated her feminine sway, though: the charms that had served her so well now appeared silly in court. It’s not a reach to say that she assumed no judge or jury, especially one including even a few pliable men, would put the mother of young children away for long. What she didn’t count on was that the women would be utterly incensed by that stunt — which I proffer is why she rarely, if ever, approached female entrepreneurs for funding — and most working-class men are not that easily manipulated. She was sentenced to roughly eleven years in — of all places — Bryan, Texas: a place I know well and can guarantee that Elizabeth Holmes will get no sympathy from rough customers with long stretches ahead of them.

And does anyone believe that hotshot she married is going to hang-in for the long haul? Especially with two young kids to raise? And if so, might I offer you some beautifully maintained swampland?

Like Holmes, there’s been a slew of socially awkward, exceedingly unsophisticated and pathologically unstable millennials springing from working and middle class backgrounds — versed in creating massive online profiles — attending pricey universities, aspiring to find shortcuts to the wealth, connections and influence of their classmates.

Sam Bankman Fried — the ‘Crypto Grifter’ — who, after being put under house arrest awaiting trial for using his online savvy to transfer hundreds-of-millions in investor money into his private accounts, was jailed for contacting and threatening potential witnesses. And just because: last week Bankman-Fried’s mom was arrested for trying to help him hide his ill-gotten gains by putting it into the PAC she chairs. So we know where he got it, I guess.

Martin Shkreli, the millennial ‘Pharma Bro’ — and formerly BFF to Trump 2.0, Vivek Ramaswamy (yeah, I threw up in my mouth when I heard that too) — who secured the rights to a potentially life-saving drug then raised the cost by 5,000%, went to prison for Securities Fraud.

And, of course, the very weird Anna Delvey who pretended to be a German princess to con Manhattan socialites: she did several years in prison and upon release returned to her con.

These wannabes are probably the most dangerous because they are literally out of their freakin’ minds. As soon as the opportunity arises they will be back online, doing it again. Bankman-Fried stole all the money he could move, rendering his marks penniless in some cases; Shkreli — so creepy looking and obnoxious that a former classmate said he made people just want to ‘smack him’ on sight — held people’s lives hostage as he extorted them for drugs they needed to survive; and it apparently never even occurred to Delvey — a ‘dead-eyed diva’ who looks as if she might stab you in your sleep, then go to brunch — to stop talking about her next con when she got out of jail the first time. Social media has created the infantile psychopaths who will, without doubt, kill somebody eventually.

Absolutely no there there. All because they wanted what other people had, regardless of whatever sorry vicious sh*t their ‘role models’ had done to hoard their treasure. Or what dark contrivances they’d used to keep it.

Chuckleheads like Adam Neumann, Elizabeth Holmes, Martin Shkreli, Bankman-Fried and Delvey leverage their whiteness to access the levers of power: power to gerrymander elections; power to gerrymander the stock market; power to gerrymander the mechanisms of governance, taxation, regulation and the judiciary; the power to gerrymander the assembly-line floor, to withhold life altering healthcare, to rape with impunity and to decide who becomes a star and who is never heard from again.

While the rest of us are expected to resign ourselves to our lesser station in the social order, bend over and grab our ankles and take it up the a** without resistance or complaint.

Begging the question: how’s that goin’ for ya’?