1. You can’t turn on the TV without feeling someone else’s pain.
It doesn’t matter what channel. CNN? You’re going to hear a stabbing victims’ mother speak. And you’re going to hurt for her. ESPN? Oh god, they’re showing the 30 for 30 on Len Bias. You think you’re safe putting Parks and Rec on…but every time they make fun of Jerry you feel a pang in your heart (think I’m joking? No. Parks and Rec is PAINFUL for me to watch). Ok, so then there’s the weather channel. Everything is fine! Clear skies, warm temperatures. Except wait — the commercial break. It’s the humane society one with that terribly sad Sarah McLachlan song, and you’re a puddle on the floor. Good job.
2. You will make decisions based on the pain you feel for others.
So basically, this means: you may or may not be a vegetarian for 5 years now because you watched Meet Your Meat once when you were sixteen and you couldn’t look at those cows on the side of the highway with dignity anymore if you kept eating them. It also means you may or may not volunteer a lot, in different places. Perhaps you even fly halfway across the globe because there was a cause you strongly identified with. One thing’s for sure: under no circumstances are you allowed in any animal shelter, ever. You will come home with an animal. And that can’t happen right now.
3. You will then be criticized and mocked for those decisions.
You’re a vegetarian?! You can’t just give up meat because you feel badly. You know we NEED meat to survive, right?! (Side note: NO WE DON’T.) Awww so you feel bad for the little chickens and fishies?! How sweet. Ohhh silly white girl volunteering here and abroad HA HA HA she wants some nice Instagram likes. LOL. Stop crying at this Sarah McLachlan commercial, will you? (Side note: IF YOU DON’T CRY AT THAT COMMERCIAL YOU’RE A MONSTER.)
4. When there are particularly disheartening world events going on, it is hard for you to do anything at all.
Did you just watch that BBC documentary on North Korea? Well say goodbye to normal socialization for two weeks. Because you’re not going to be able to get your mind off of it for a second — not even when talking to others. Anniversary of 9-11? Try getting out of bed that day, I dare you. Ukrainian revolts? You’ll be fine if, if, and ONLY IF you don’t watch any news specials on it and you manage to stay away from any mention of it on social media.
5. Despite all of this, you refuse to be ignorant. You want to know.
You still clicked on that documentary about North Korea. You could have remained in the dark about it, but you wanted to know. You needed to know. So many Americans don’t know what’s going on in Syria or Ukraine, but they like it that way. Ignorance is bliss, right? Well for you, it’s not. You chose to watch Meet your Meat. You knew what you were getting yourself into. You could have avoided all of that pain for yourself, but you watched it. Because if other living things are feeling pain, you want to feel it too.