Every time I have visited China, there was some sort of new fad, something cute, some sort of accessory that everyone wanted, something, anything. Recently a new, rather sick craze took over the land: animal keychains. Not injection-moulded plastic elephants and giraffes, but live turtles, salamanders and fish jammed into a plactic, water-filled bag, sealed, and sold for as little as 5 yuan (less than US $1). Popular with the brainless masses of infantile Chinese women who think this is the coolest thing since the invention of helium balloons, the keychains are a huge hit all over China.
[This video on Youtube is generating quite a number of hits, but if you agree with me on the issue, don’t click “DISLIKE” – this isn’t Facebook, and clicking this way expresses your disgust with the video rather than the issue.]
For me, this is a horrible symptom of the runaway Chinese consumerism. “The neighbour has one, I want one.” No one stops to think for just a second about the poor animal locked inside, tortured for many hours, and then dying from lack of oxygen. And it really should not take more than 0.5 of a second to clue in that the inside of a sealed plastic badder is not the ideal habitat for an animal.
Many people have a huge problem with the Chinese eating dogs, cats, snakes, pangolins and other critters. I don’t. Really, I do not care. I eat meat, so I am not in the position to say someone else cannot have their meat. I chose beef and pork, the Chinese are entitled to dog and chicken. My “Back to China – Part 9” video is full of angry comments from people who happily slaughter a cow but object to killing a dog… That is a cultural difference, and I do take the Chinese side in that case. But this keychain thing is nothing but pointless torture, the poor animal ends up in a garbage heap 2-3 days later, before the idiot who thought it was cute buys another one.
What kind of appreciation is this ANYWAY!? It’s like stalking a giant panda for days in a forest, spotting it, declaring that it is a magnificent specimen, putting a bullet between its eyes, and then letting it rot right there and then. Sure hunters have done that before, and they are just as big assholes as the Chinese girls who kill the hundreds of thousands of turtles every week.
This is a good opportunity to reflect on our consumerism. All consumerism, not just Chinese type… Stupid, shitty products that people don’t need but buy anyway have been around for centuries, but this one provides that bit of a shock that might make people think about the impact of unbridled shopping for knicky-knacky shit that has no use, but nevertheless had to be dug up from underneath a rainforest or gotten ripped out of a coral reef, and usually turns into trash after 3 days. China is not alone in this. Yes, there is plenty of stupid shit being peddled in China, usually with some extravagant claims of the health benefits and blah blah blah… Shark fin soup, rhino horn, tiger claw, bear penis, snake blood, and so on… All complete bullshit, and easy for a westerner to notice as we are not familiar with these ideas so they immediately jump out at as as stupid. But same shit happens back home. How many people buy the next iSomething, just because it is there? iPhone, iPad, iPod, iShit… Contrary to popular belief, it will not “change your life”. It will only change your bank balance. YOU DONT NEED THE NEXT TOY! It’s not about your ability to afford it, but rather about the world’s ability to provide it without the ecosystem breaking down to shit.
Cars that guzzle 20 litres of petrol for every 100km, X-mas decorations that make your fucking overheated villa look like a goddamn airport, and the 2 kilos of pamphlets jammed into your mailbox every week all do their part. We live in a finite world, so it is time to stop treating it like a free-for-all fuckfest.
Naturally, impact-free is impossible. And I am personally responsible for plenty of CO2 emissions from all the jet flights I take every year. BUT… I would more than happily take a boat, which is more economical, if slower (I have time, I don’t have the cash). But buying stupid shit just because you have a squirrel-like impulse to hoard it… Not a good idea.
Think of the turtle. Stop buying shit.