Every couple of months or so, a new negative study or news story about how meat is processed will show up in my Facebook news feed, Twitter timeline, or email inbox.
Sometimes it’ll have to do with a huge recall. Sometimes it’s an expose about what really goes on in some meat processing plants. Sometimes it’s an inside look at chickens injected with HGH, and sometimes they’ll show these chickens lifting weights. Sometimes it might even be a piece on how most of the meat you eat isn’t even really meat.
Either way, each time I come across one of these articles, I do the same three things.
1. Read the headline
2. Quickly advert my eyes, and hope the quick act of adverting convinces my brain to unsee what I just saw.
3. Close the window/delete the email.
I do this for two reasons. One, I’m an unapologetic meat-eater who loves burgers, steak, brisket, bacon, pork chops, chicken, chitlins, pulled pork, roast beef, and sausage more than most below-average parents love their children.
Most importantly, I do not want this information to ruin my enjoyment of these delicious meats. So, I stay willfully ignorant; turning the channel during 60 Minutes segments about ground Martian in Wendy’s burgers while I happily scarf down a Baconator.
There’s only one problem with this approach: I’m not willfully ignorant at all.
Despite my efforts to ignore any new negative information about how meat is created and sold, I know that the cow my roast beef came from had chlamydia and that the pig my bacon comes from could dunk a basketball. Everyone knows this. You know it even if you don’t want to know. So, instead of “willfully ignorant” I am “reluctantly aware and actively apathetic.”
That said, the only solace this extended bit of cognitive dissonance allows me is that at least I’m only harming myself. (And, the millions of chickens, pigs, and cows slaughtered for our meat every year, but they don’t really count.)
As I write this, I’m watching the Steelers lose to the Bears of Chicago. Considering that the Black and Gold will now be 0-3, I am surprisingly serene. Perhaps this serenity is due the p*rn induced “faster nation” time I had early Sunday. Maybe it’s due to my interrupted listen to Self Made Vol. 3 as I drove to the mall Saturday afternoon. I don’t know.
I do know, though, that after…
1. Reading a dozen or so articles last week about the p*rn industry’s recent HIV outbreak
2. Knowing that the NFL is fully-aware of the fact that it turns a fourth of its workers into zombies
3. Being fully-aware of the fact that the nihilistic and misanthropic rap music I enjoy listening to does have a measurable negative effect on the people who happen to listen to it
…I don’t know how good I can feel anymore about following NFL football, watching p*rn, or listening to rap.
It’s one thing to choose your own pleasure over the knowledge of what that pleasure may do to you, but it’s getting harder for me to make the conscious choice of deriving pleasure from products I know are directly (and willfully) responsible for the harm of other people.
Actually, that’s a lie. Making the choice isn’t hard. I will not stop rooting for the Steelers, I’ll still check out XV*deos from time to time, and I’ll still listen to my violent-ass, misogynistic-ass rap music. I will also continue to feel like shit for enjoying it.
On the bright side, if I get too down on myself, I can always go to BRGR and get a Double Yoi burger with pastrami, Swiss cheese, fried egg, cole slaw, and thousand island to cheer me up.
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)