I’ve mostly stopped watching Upworthy-titled videos. The ones that are mind-boggling and important but also have titles like “this puppy-child started crying, and you won’t BELIEVE what this politician did next!” The over-the-top titles simultaneously pique my interest and make me want to trash the email. However, every so often I get bored and find myself clicking through emails from political groups that send me stuff because I signed a petition of theirs 5 years ago. Today was one of those days. I opened an email and skimmed to the bottom, then clicked on this satirical Doritos commercial.
“Love at First Bite: the Ad Doritos Don’t Want You to See”
A few seconds in, I glanced at the description underneath the video and immediately paused it. The video is about how Doritos, one of my favorite types of chips and comfort foods, is destroying rainforests. In addition, Doritos uses palm oil harvested from plantations that force people to work as slaves. The caption specifies that “even children” are enslaved and forced to work on palm oil plantations, though I’m coming up blank on whether it is actually more okay to enslave adults than children. I feel like the answer is no. Anyway, the emotional point hits home.
The first time around, I didn’t keep watching. I turned the video off. I knew that continuing to watch would make some pretty intense feels happen, and I didn’t want to deal with that. Intense feels that would inevitably lead to my feeling guilty about eating Doritos, which would make it way harder to eat them. Life is so much easier when you don’t think about how pursuing things that give you pleasure could be hurting other people.
But it’s been on my mind throughout the day. It brought me back to a website I clicked through once that I also tried hard not to think about, especially once it gave me my results. On this website, you can provide some basic information about yourself, what you own and what purchases you make, and it will calculate for you how many slaves work for you.
Slaves work for you. For me. If that’s not disturbing, I don’t know what is.
But here’s what disturbs me just as much: that gut reaction to turn away. To say that’s not true, that’s an exaggeration. To ignore that the choice of what I eat and buy is a moral one. To ignore that I am profiting from horrors inflicted on other people.
It’s a lot easier: there’s less pain in looking away. Well, less pain for me anyway – the people enslaved to make my Doritos and chocolate and who knows what all else don’t have the option to look away from their daily realities. Horrific things are going to keep happening if I give in to my gut and don’t force myself to look.
So in acknowledgement of that, I decided to revisit this site today and pay attention to what it tells me about how my life choices are inflicting pain on other human beings. I invite you to join me if you’ve never tried this before — let’s practice turning together toward the problems we create. Here is the link to the website. I’ll write my results below, and you can join me by posting yours in the comments.
Before you start, note that there is a gender binary in their survey. That sucks. I am also interested and puzzled by their question about how many times you’ve paid for sex, and the fact that this doesn’t impact a person’s score, given that sex trafficking is a huge source of modern slavery. Why are they including this question if they do not factor it into your score? That needs serious unpacking. Anyway, here goes:
26 slaves work for me.
Time to stop turning away. Time to give some serious thought about how to make that horrific number zero. Any things you do to make that number zero in your life, please post in the comments below – I know there are disrupters out there who are experts at this kind of thing, and I would love any suggestions you have.