A Guide To Dealing With Japanese Earthquake Guilt

As powerless as I really feel, I might as well write – for lack of anything better to suggest – that if you have enough cash on hand and want to help Japan out, here’s a start.

A 9.2 magnitude earthquake struck Eastern Japan today, which triggered a seriously apocalyptic tsunami and a 6.6 magnitude aftershock, all of which have claimed the lives of hundreds, possibly thousands. As nightfall hits Japan, the first search and rescue efforts have started, and so the body count can only increase. A terrifying, humbling and serious state of affairs indeed. Yet here we are. In front of our computers. Looking at the internet. Here’s how to allay some of that guilt you’re inevitably bound to feel upon not doing anything at all (and, well, being essentially powerless to) to quell the very real suffering that Japan’s experiencing at this very moment.

Appear really depressed tonight

Wherever you go tonight, if it’s social/ public, look really sad. Just look really, really sad. When your friend or the girl with whom you want to have sex asks you why you look so down, mumble your confusion about why the world seems so fucked up. As the night progresses and you continue to consume alcohol, make sure to have a low-level outburst in which you yell loudly that you don’t know what to do, that you feel so bad that you can’t do anything, that the people of Japan are dying. People will consequently think you actually care, despite the fact that you continue to give your money to not Japan but corporate alcohol manufacturers and are actually using the posture of “empathy for others” to get laid.

Converse only about the Japan earthquake, from now until Tuesday

Tonight will be your debut of conspicuous empathy for others – refuse to talk about anything other the situation in Japan. Extrapolate this behavior to Saturday, when you should also change your Gchat status to a link to Japan earthquake coverage and Gchat with people only about the rising death toll and horrific destruction in Japan. On Sunday, blog about it, and on Monday, appear devastated at the water cooler and at meetings, referring to the earthquake way too often.

Stay glued to your laptop

Aljazeera, CNN and Gizmodo are all running excellent live/ continually updated coverage on the earthquake in Japan. Keep open tabs of all three and refresh/ cycle through these pages repeatedly in a conspicuous public area. Make sure to angle your laptop screen for maximum stranger visibility. For the most guilt reduction, have a number of fake cell phone conversations where you say loudly that you feel so bad for the victims of the Japanese earthquake, that you just can’t believe any of this happened, and that, frankly, you’re “pretty bummed out.”

Change your Facebook profile picture to a profile picture that an aid organization has provided

Make sure to seek out an organization dedicated to Japanese earthquake aid whose mission is to somehow help the people of Japan by providing Facebook users with profile pictures. These profile pictures somehow indicate that the people of Japan are being helped by the extreme propagation of these profile pictures. Change your profile picture to the one they’ve provided. Alternatively, donate an incremental amount of money to an organization dedicated to Japanese earthquake aid who will give you a Facebook “badge” which you can post to your profile. For high amounts of guilt reduction, donate around 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., as this is statistically when the most people are using Facebook and will enable the maximum number of people to see that you care.

‘Get the word out’

‘Getting the word out’ is the easiest and perhaps most efficient method to assuage your guilt. ‘Getting the word out’ is simple – Tweet “DONATE TO RED CROSS HUMANITARIAN EFFORT IN JAPAN [tinyurl link],” or “To the people of Japan: My heart goes out to you.” It (‘getting the word out’) creates the impression with all your Twitter followers/ Facebook friends that you’re like, affected, by others’ pain and suffering. That you care. Enough to put it in your Twitter stream, just after posting “Whew tonight at Johnny’s is gonna be effin hot!!!” No one will think to question your stance on empathy for others.


Unfortunately, this is one of the tougher options, because you’ve decided to live in New York City or some other big city, and as such willfully pay more than double the rent and double the price of food and drink than everywhere else in America – just to ‘be in a big city,’ which, less face it, is a sort of privilege. As such, you’re basically living on your last dime. And, well, you have to take care of yourself, right? So in order to alleviate the most guilt for not doing anything about Japanese people trapped under huge cinderblocks, just waiting there, right at this moment, wondering if they’re going to get rescued, is to donate, basically, the rest of your money to Japan. And be sure to tell everyone about it at the party tonight, insinuating, you know, that they could buy you a drink or two because you “donated your last cent to Japan.” TC mark


More From Thought Catalog

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh


  • Contrabalance

    The writer of this article is a blubbering vagina in hipster panties. Get the fuck over yourself.

    • http://timothypresence.com/ Timothy Willis Sanders

      what are 'hipster panties'

      what is a 'blubbering vagina' seems weird

      • Guest

        dude is just misplacing his guilt is all

      • http://timothypresence.com/ Timothy Willis Sanders


  • https://twitter.com/#!/nvvmxac danne rassle

    The headlines are pretty funny

  • CC

    On the one hand, I know this is exactly the sort of disingenuous bullshit reaction I'll be dealing with all this weekend.

    On the other hand, fuck you, Brandon Scott Gorrell. Some of us do actually have friends and family in the area. Now I have to get ready to go to Brooklyn where a thousand hipsters are going to ask me how I'm dealing and tell me all the latest news they got off Aljazeera. I cannot even deal.

    • Anonymous

      I agree with CC. Thought Catalog should remove this post.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FQBOL3ZHPHDYFGRD53EVFREV4A El puto

      fucking hipsters

  • http://emscreams.tumblr.com Em

    While I can understand this article being ill-received, it's purpose is simply to demonstrate the futility of living in the super cushy western world where we witness these events as they unfold via our iPads.

    BSG took the time in the intro to acknowledge the pain and suffering of this catastrophe before remarking (ACCURATELY) that people channel the guilt they feel from owning that very iPad into a frantic public display of sympathy via social media. He clearly sympathizes with the situation while simultaneously detailing the textbook manifestations of young adult western guilt.

    If Thought Catalog took this post down, they would also be removing the link that BSG provided in the subtitle TO DONATE to Japan.

  • http://timothypresence.com/ Timothy Willis Sanders

    thx for the donate link brandon

  • http://twitter.com/ahm Avery

    For what it's worth not even NHK will still be talking constantly about the earthquake come Tuesday, assuming there isn't a serious aftershock.

  • Peterswersey

    I get what you're going for here, but this is highly insensitive, and not really funny or insightful. Whatever this sheds a light on is something that doesn't need to be acknowledged right now. If anything, this encourages a bleak, powerless attitude that could potentially discourage people from helping. It'd be in your best interest to retract.

  • corey

    This is rude.

  • Guest

    I do not understand why this article is being so ill-received. BSG, you should have added a section titled “Post Comments” and it should have elaborated on how people should go to their favorite websites and defend/bully anybody that is not 100% empathetic to Japan to truly display their great empathy.

    People need to relax and enjoy some satire.

  • ...

    This is horrible.

  • xanadude

    Radically unchill, bro…

  • RupertConrad

    I forgot all about this today when my life continued.

  • http://sixmetamorphoses.blogspot.com/ The Other Jordan


  • http://twitter.com/Erikhaspresence Erik Stinson


    exactly what BSG is talking about…

    exploiting disaster for personal/social media gains…

  • http://twitter.com/tangolist engg

    The writer of this article and you are really ass holes.

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