Having Fun Vs. Social Responsibility

30 Mar

So Claire accidentally peed in my Cheerios the other day. Lovely visual, I know, but let me explain. I love Disney. Yes, this cranky, bitchy, gloomy writer loves Disney. I love it so much that I’ve been there six times in ten years. If I were not fart broke? I’d be trying to convince Lauren that she and Greg want to go back this year, with promises of not making her go on the Yeti Roller Coaster of Doom:

((A small interjection here. Lauren doesn’t like roller coasters. I found out this one didn’t go upside down and somehow managed to convince her that IT’D BE FUN, YOU SHOULD TRY IT. She wasn’t expecting a jarring turn, her neck nearly snapped and her head almost fell off. She hasn’t forgiven me since, I don’t think.))

Anyway, come to find out Disney is one of the biggest users of child labor in the world. Have some really depressing reading material. Claire stated she’d never take a kid there because she’d be thinking about all the little kids getting hurt and burned and maimed making Disney paraphernalia while her kid sat on Mickey’s lap.

On its own, this revelation sort of crushed my spirit, but what actually got me THINKING beyond the “Oh shit am I a bad person to still want to go to Disney” thing was when she said “We were totally going to go to Disneyland, but I was against it, so we went to the zoo instead. It’s good my friend wasn’t there, because she’s an animal activist and would have nixed that.” Hrmm. HRMM.

EXTREME EXAMPLE TIME, BEAR WITH. So imagine if you will three people sitting around trying to figure out what to do with themselves for the day. There’s an animal activist, an anti-child labor person, and a feminist. All are well read, well spoken people, all are passionate about their causes and beliefs. All are looking for entertainment. The zoo’s out, as previous stated, and some restaurants might be out too because they serve meat that’s been taken from cruelty slaughter houses. Disney’s out, as is having a chocolate bar because holy shit NESTLE IS THE DEVIL. Video games? Nah. Dripping with misogyny, and sexism runs rampant in the film industry.

So no movies, desserts, dinners, travel, and shopping for fear of buying sweatshop labor product.

What the fuck do these three do, then? Sit in a field somewhere and have a staring contest?

The point of the post: I -want- to feel socially conscious. I want to feel aware, and that my voice matters and I can make a difference as a consumer by putting my money towards companies that do it “the right way”. I want people to believe in things because that’s how the world gets better. The problem I’m having, personally, is how do I figure out what constitutes “guilt free activity” versus not. I like to think I care about animals, but I can’t account for where restaurants purchase meat from. I also like the zoo, and I know maybe that’s not nice to the animals. I love Disney, and I’d love to go back, but doesn’t that mean I support their child labor ways? I love chocolate, and hot cocoa makes me happy, but they’re doing awful things in Africa to give my fat ass something sweet. I like video games and movies too, but they’ve pretty much shit all over women for as long as both have existed. So how does a person figure out where to draw the line? Burying your head in the sand and pretending you don’t see it makes you – SORRY! – a douchebag, and I don’t want to be a douchebag! But at the same time, I’m an entitled white kid (by most standards anyway) who wants to be entertained, and now there’s this strange guilt associated with most of the things I find awesometastic.

So I suppose really this is a question to the readers out there who are passionate about causes: how do you pick and choose how far you will go with your TAKING A STAND? Do you rally for a cause, or say you believe “X, Y, and Z is bad” and yet, in the end, end up purchasing anyway? If that’s the case, at what point do you become a hypocrite?

It’s an interesting and difficult thing to figure through, I think, and I’m assuming the answer is different for everyone. Balancing right and wrong versus selfish want . . . well. In the end I’d like to come out thinking I’m a good person, and yet I’m not actually sure I do. Strange that.

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3 Responses to “Having Fun Vs. Social Responsibility”

  1. Stephanie March 30, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

    It’s a difficult balance, I agree. For most things, in my case, I do my best to be aware of the problem and any solutions that are feasibly within my own power to aid in contribution. I’ll sign petitions, I’ll spread the word, I’ll avoid the restaurant/store/whatever if I can. I refuse on principal eating at McDonald’s because of its shitty food, but if it’s quite literally the only option (say, when I’m out with friends or getting a free meal for lunch at work, to where you eat or forget it), I’ll suck it up and get a fish sandwich.

    I still shop at Target for prescriptions (even after their supporting anti-gay politicians fiasco), but because they can give me $3 generics that other pharmacies can’t. I still shop at Walmart because their groceries tend to be cheaper and there’s a store five minutes from my house, even though I’m actively trying to buy local produce and support local businesses.

    TL;DR it’s a matter of convenience meeting moral standards, and sometimes my preference to save money wins out. Dad keeps mentioning a “sphere of influence” whenever I get up in arms about an injustice somewhere in the world (which tends to happen quite frequently), in that I shouldn’t let things I have very little to no control over upset me more than those that do–and perhaps I should consider just how wide or little my sphere actually is.

    I hate to “pick and choose my battles,” because I wish I could fight them all, but I’m not a fighter; I’m a pacifist who’d rather sign a petition from the comfort of my own home than join the Peace Corps and probably get ill from heat exhaustion the first day (my disposition to weather, it’s kind of fragile). I may not be able to stand on the front lines, but I sure as hell try as hard as I can to spread information, because someone down the line might be able to do the job that I can’t.

  2. Tami March 31, 2011 at 7:49 am #

    There is no one good solution. “make your own fun” – okay, so learn to knit or sew.

    Where does the yarn and fabric come from?

    Go outside, do sports? What country were your rollerblades and shoes made in?

    Write. Where did your computer come from?

    I suppose I could raise angora rabbits, spin my own yarn, and whittle my own crochet hook from fallen wood from the nearby forest, but I also drive to work (car, gas) wearing work clothes (definitely not hand-crocheted) to work for a company (various) so that I can make enough money to buy food to live on and pay the rent.

    Thinking about that makes me depressed a little (and no, I didn’t list it out just to poke fun – it’s a serious list.)

    Someone shared something in my feed reader (ha! it was Anna! http://www.grist.org/locavore/2011-03-29-access-farmers-market-pastured-pork ) about the difficulty in producing affordable ethical meats (I know some folks think any meat is unethical, but most omnivores I know don’t like to think about HOW their food is produced and would prefer an alternative).

    Questions about ethical living crop up in every aspect of my life. Every time I turn around, there’s another decision (if I even SEE that it’s a decision, which I don’t always).

    I do what I can easily or mid-easily do. My job gives me more income to “play” with than other jobs might, and I vote with that cash as often as I can.

    I buy local. I buy organic. I buy hand-made. I buy quality stuff that lasts longer, even if I don’t know where it came from, so that at the very least, I’m not turning over my possessions every year. I’m trying to downsize and minimalize. My car gets AWESOME gas mileage. I try to reduce my use within my apartment and I dream of building a tiny, energy-efficient home somewhere in the middle of a forest and raising angora rabbits. (whose yarn I will happily send to friends to crochet for me, as I am seven kinds of thumbs and could poke my eye out)

    My entertainment is primarily cooking, writing, and misogynistic video games – not because the thought of Capture The Babe and Slap Her On The Ass doesn’t bother me, but because it doesn’t bother me enough, I suppose.

    I imagine this is a lot more difficult for someone who doesn’t WANT to spend most of her free time at home.

    (There are times I wonder if the divas wish I’d just write a friggin blog post already and link to their posts. *laughs*)

  3. officergleason April 1, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    For every dollar spent in a place that doesn’t directly support (or in some cases, directly opposes) your ideals, you could either 1) donate money to a cause you like or better yet 2) volunteer to work with an agency/NGO you support.

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