the wave is what society says is important
the undertow is what really is important
when you’re on top
you’re moved by the wave
when you’re on the bottom
you’re sucked by the undertow
There are a lot of things that whether they are true or not depends on your place in society. Some things:
Being virtuous generally gets you good things if you are on top but just keeps you treading water if you are on the bottom (or worse). This is because virtue is optional for those on top so when they exhibit it they are rewarded. Further down virtue is expected so the lack is punished. Still further down virtue is seen as weakness and punished. On the bottom you generally are in derelict subcultures that revolve around vices and substance abuse. The groups that don’t involve these things are generally higher up and not accepting of those on the bottom.
If you are on top you are treated as if you have innate worth but the further down you go the more your treatment is tied to how and whether you function in society. This is because in both cases you are being treated based on how you are valued, it’s just on top people don’t like to believe they are being treated well just on the account of what they have to offer so they made up the “innate worth” trope. When you are on the bottom all artifice disappears and people really shine their true colors in your face. You only really feel the weight of importance of looks, money, and status when you do not possess them. Because when you don’t people go into “reduced functionality mode” around you, polite but curt (at best), or all the gloves come off and they insult and demean you because you have no power to fight back.
Positivity is generally a luxury for those on top. The self-esteem movement is for those on and near the top because they are the ones who invented it so naturally it would only apply to them. People on and near the top are controlled more by a “soft touch” because they already have most of their lives together. People further down often need to be controlled more tightly and for this to happen negativity enters in. There is even a survey somewhere that said how poor kids heard at least twice as much negativity as rich ones.