In Eating Animals, we are shown the horrors animals go through to end up on our plate. When we see the chicken breast laying atop our kale salad we imagine that it lived a good life on a farm with the freedom to roam and eat as much as it likes. Our minds do not immediately go to the abusive image of a chicken being stuffed into a box the size of a piece of copy paper to live it’s entire life in darkness.
The story customers expect to be behind their meal. (Portlandia)
When looking at the essays I wrote this quarter, I found a common theme throughout each of them. Whether it’s the food we eat, the energy we use, the products we buy, or the work we claim as our own, we are simply blind to reality.
In our sustainability essay, my group investigated sustainability on the SCU campus. We found that although the tiny house is meant to symbolize Santa Clara University’s efforts towards sustainability, Santa Clara University inadequately implements these initiatives in residence halls, while continuing to advertise environmentally friendly practices, perpetuating false advertising. The majority of our group spent the weekend living in the tiny house, and found that these sustainable efforts were fairly easy, which left us confused for why SCU had not implemented them. After some research, we found that the efforts being made simply are not enough. When prospective students see lights powered by rechargeable batteries, current students see the lights on in the study room that has been vacant all night. When they see the water conserving faucets, we see the leaky shower head that hasn’t been fixed in weeks, despite daily visits from the maintenance crews while they clean the bathrooms. When they see solar panels lining the Refract roof, we see the bare roofs of the largest buildings on campus. To put in simple terms, Santa Clara University is simply not practicing what they preach, and students are oblivious to reality of sustainability at SCU.
SCU missed their shot with sustainability.
While doing research for my plagiarism essay, I found that many students are oblivious to what plagiarism is and do it unknowingly. In an interview with Patrick Gonzales, a high school english teacher, he stated that many students do not see what is fundamentally wrong about cheating:
“I think kids are losing the sense of what lying and cheating is. It’s a weird thing with people where they think just because they can find it, that means they also get to own it.” (Gonzales)
Students have become blind to the utter wrongness of cheating, as they have become conditioned to do so. Administrators and teachers do this by pushing students to get good grades without highlighting the values of learning, going easy on students in terms of prevention and punishments for cheating, and putting valedictorians on a pedestal without giving proper recognition to other high-achieving students. The push from administrators and teachers to get good grades has created an environment where plagiarism and cheating is acceptable, and because of this, students have become blind to the fact that it is simply immoral to take someone else’s work and claim it as your own.
In my customization essay, I found that although we think we are getting a personalized product, in reality, the more ordinary you are, the more personal everything feels. This is a common finding when looking at “personalized” or “customizable” products, whether it is a personal t-shirt from Forever 21, a Coke bottle labeled with a name, or a monogrammed bag from Lila Janes. We live in a fantasy that products are “perfect for us”. In three scenarios, customers were “tricked” in believing a product is truly personal. In the first instance, it was a shirt that said “Seriously, I don’t care!” that “spoke” to my sister. The second is the “Share a Coke” campaign, which was launched in 2011. Instead of revamping the graphics or altering the placement of nutritional facts, they simply slapped a name on the front of their plastic bottles, glass bottles, and cans. When teenagers see their name, they are excited that they have a product “made” for them, when in reality, just because a surface level aspect (a name) of a person is identified by a company does not mean we should assume they are more special or valued more as a customer. The third instance of customization is the most truly personal of the products previously discussed. Lila Janes, a popular online clothing store, offers their customers the option to “personalize” their purses and bags by adding on their initials. But what people don’t realize is that when people purchase monogrammed bags, they are usually purchasing them from large companies which sell thousands of the same bag (with different initials). In each of these situations, the person is mislead by what the company is doing and blind to the fact that their “personalized” items simply are not personal.
Though humans are the smartest race, when it comes to individuals, sometimes we just can’t outsmart companies or organizations. The meat industry, Santa Clara University administration, the administrators and teachers in our high schools, and the companies that advertise “personalized” products mislead us and blind us to reality. We see this often outside of these four sectors. Advertising in and of itself is a plot to trick us into believing a certain product or service will majorly enhance our lives in some way. But in reality, these misconceptions and delusions cause us to have a false view of our world.