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The Hazard of Fun-Shaming by Chris Thompson
The Popeye’s chicken sandwich is 1000% superior to the Chick Fil-A sandwich. I have tasted both sandwiches, and there is no comparison. Popeye’s chicken sandwich comes in two flavors: mild and spicy. It is a big chunk of chicken breast, full of flavor. Chick Fil-A sandwiches’ only “flavor” is salt. You can fry and bread a newspaper, and you will not be able to tell the difference between that and a Chick Fil-A sandwich. Even if it were better tasting than the Popeye’s sandwich, it automatically loses points in my decision, since Chick Fil-A continues to donate money to groups that actively push for stripping away rights from and re-closeting LGBTQ+ folks. Perhaps you’ll tell me that they are simply doing what they want with their money according to their “Christian beliefs”. I know plenty of Christians who are not homophobic bigots, and they run organizations that focus on feeding the starving instead of keeping Ted and Roger from kissing. You might like to tell me that Chick Fil-A hires plenty of gay people, and they don’t discriminate in hiring. Besides that being the law and not the point of my contention, plenty of white land owners had no problem hiring black sharecroppers to farm their land. That doesn’t mean they had any interest in making their employees’ lives better. Plenty of folks think that boycotts are pointless against big corporations. These are usually the same people who would stop going to McDonald’s because the cashier “looked at them funny”, or refuse to go to any Burger King because they put pickles on their Whopper when they asked for no pickles, or never step foot in a Subway because they took too long to make their special order. But when I decide not to go to Chick Fil-A’s because of my issue with human rights, I’m “overreacting”. Ok.
The memes that have come out of the “chicken wars” are hilarious. What is not hilarious is people shaming folks for enjoying the memes. I’m sure some would shame me for writing the previous paragraph about the sandwiches. Admonishing people for taking a few minutes out of their day to like a meme or have a comment about any aspect of pop culture does not make you better or more “woke” than the next person. Implying that a person cannot simultaneously work on a campaign and also enjoy The Shade Room is insulting. Humans have brains that can contain and operate more than one thing at a time. We know that the Amazon (and the African Savannah) is burning. We know that children are still being held in cages in our government’s name. We know that police brutality is an ever-present threat to our well being. We know that white nationalists are increasing their terrorist tactics with no deterrence from this administration. However, only dwelling on these facts without also attempting to lift your spirits is a good way to shorten your life. Folks have always used humor as a stress reliever for trauma they have endured. That does not mean that they are not negatively affected by the trauma or that they are ignoring it outright. It means they are trying to balance the seriousness of their situations with attempting to maintain a level head. Of course, the pendulum can swing completely in the other direction, and a person can be intentionally completely out of the loop about serious issues that affect them and their community, but I would like to think more kindly of people, and think that most actually DO care, no matter how many selfies or memes they post.
Activism in someone’s life, no matter how deeply entrenched or cursory it is, is an arduous burden. A few hours a week of enjoyment should never be seen as an indication of someone’s lack of caring. If you feel yourself wanting to deride someone for weighing in on the “chicken war” or the latest clips from the VMAs, then perhaps you should step back and lighten up a little.
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About Chris Thompson
Chris Thompson is an engineer, writer, comedian, and activist who made Rochester, New York his home in 2008. In addition to his role as Contributor for 540Blog , he currently writes the Chronicles of Nonsense segment for the Almost Tuesday show on WAYO-FM 104.3, and regularly posts and writes on his own on Instagram and Twitter at @ChronsOfNon.Additionally , Chris is a Food Writer for Rochester City Newspaper. His blog is www.chroniclesofnonesense.com