Too tired to sharpen, all I got is (unrelated, don't look for a narrative through-line in) bullet points:
• Reward structure says we're playing for XP and levels and treasure. Difficulty level says players on Easy level up faster and get better loot drops.
• Counterculture [white, straight, middle-class] conventional wisdom says the subaltern is the fount of authenticity and artistic expression and middle-class suburban conformity & the pursuit of wealth are the root of alienation, despair, etc.
• Christian [white, straight, petit bourgeois / peripheral proletarian] conservatives of the non-televangelical variety share your skepticism re: acquisition, power, material comfort, satiation, zero-sum competitive victory, and fame.
• "[Having] to act like these assholes" is neither here nor there re: difficulty levels. It is, however, a very nearly required component of major success in accumulating XP & treasure at *whatever* difficulty level. It may be possible to achieve that success with other, less orthodox play styles, and doing so will certainly be more difficult than playing through the standard quest lines, fighting in the approved player-vs-player arenas, etc. But the choice of play style is orthogonal to the set difficulty level even if both impact difficulty.
(I feel like I'm making it about white people because from where I'm standing I can see the edge of the cliff of complaining, "But *I* don't act like those assholes! *I* have an accurate perspective, real emotional solidarity and mutual support, and a grip on my humanity!")
(Except I don't really have emotional solidarity and mutual support.)
(But I probably could if I moved to the right town and joined the right church. And I'd still be playing on Easy.)