Somewhere I was trying to articulate what I'm now calling 'The Bacon Effect.'
This is the attractiveness of something that people are told is bad for them and that they should not do.
The bacon effect seems to have these components
(1) Something is bad for the individual who consumes it or for other people or animals.
(2) There is some moral wrongness involved in this badness and someone, somewhere criticizes this badness. E.g., bacon is meat and meat is known to be a morally sketchy thing in some people's eyes. But I think it is primarily the unhealthiness of bacon that leads to the bacon effect. People don't really think much about how their bacon comes from a pig and that pigs are smart and create ecological nightmarish pools of pig shit and massive quantities of methane gas, which is the most serious of all the greenhouse gases in terms of warming the planet.
They just know they aren't supposed to eat fat. And bacon is pretty much all fat.
(3) Some people begin to embrace their love of this thing and regard this love of it as a badge of honor.
Among the things most likely to cause the bacon effect are: Bacon and unhealthy foods like bacon, shopping, consumerism and irresponsible spending, SUVs and other gas guzzlers and pretty much anything people moralize about that is also interwoven into our lives and that we've learned to enjoy.
There are other things about the bacon effect. For example, there's nothing genuinely rebellious about one's love for bacon or SUVs or shopping. Instead, it's really just part and parcel of some stuff that you are told to love and that is branded and sold to you. It has to be a capitalist product to really be subject to the bacon effect.
Perhaps not. The burdens of motherhood are also subject to the bacon effect. Mothers trumpet their violation of the code of conduct and gleefully discuss their transgressions at times. I gave my kid a donut! I let her sit in front of the TV for hours and hours! And so on.
I suppose the effect is partly just a result of people not liking to be told what to do and hating moral arguments telling them they can't have what they want without doing something wrong.Morality seems oppressive. But I think this is mostly because people doubt their ability to live by the standards, and the nebulous nature of the standards. People don't trumpet their pleasure in stealing other people's stuff. We know we shouldn't steal and we know how not to steal.
Giving in to the bacon effect is an incredible decadence. Not so much: A piece of bacon is decadent. But just the idea that the person who is genuine worried about not destroying the planet or animal suffering or the desperation of someone's poverty is just a pill who needs to be put in their place. And the reason is that their stance might limit some small pleasure of yours.
It really is a kind of 'burn dollar bills while people around you starve' kind of stance. Drink the champagne in your wine cellar before the mongrel hordes invade with their starving children. A thumbing one's nose in the face of dreary morality and the sanctimony of others.
It's better--or more socially acceptable--to indulge oneself than to comment on people's indulgence that causes harm to others or grossly ignores harm. In some contexts, anyway. In some places, driving your hummer and just being a consuming nightmare is a kind of charming statement of individuality.
In that sense, it is simply a protective mechanism. Don't tell me not to chop down the trees. I'll show you what a badass I am, what a manly man and chop the fuck out of this forest until there is nothing but ashes and stumps.
It is the response of a child and oh, so very, very American. I've done it myself. I've reveled in the air conditioning and the general decadence, all the while knowing our days are kind of numbered as a result of all this reveling.
(We sit and feel guilty for it, which is absurd. The whole point of it is to make money for someone else. We barely benefit. Almost all of us are entirely on the tail end. And we are also obeying, in some sense, the advertiser, who puts the bacon effect to great use in manipulating us to buy what it is the advertiser wants us to buy.)
Maybe it's a fatalistic helplessness as well. Because morality's thrown in our faces and we wearily think there's almost nothing we can do. Which is not true. But what we can do is teeny tiny in the face of all the bacon eating.
The problem for me is that indulgence, when it's connected to the destructive lifestyle forced upon us, creates anxiety. And the only relief I find are in things like never buying cleaning supplies but washing all my counters with vinegar. Re-using water and other strategems. I drive the hell everywhere. I'm not talking up my own virtue. I'm just pointing out that the bacon effect has limits. Although you will reach out to people to confirm the OK-ness of your bacon-eating, at the heart is that quiver of uneasiness.