who am i?
who am i?
Imagine being transformed into a baby chick, piglet or dairy calf for four minutes.
The reality hits instantly; surrounded by hundreds of the same individuals. The noise, the calls from you and your fellow prisoners is all-encompassing. There is no where to go. It’s not Old Macdonald’s. You quickly grow, the space gets smaller, some are laid dead from disease, others resort to cannibalizing the wasted bodies. Soon this will all be over, but not before the final act. A convener belt of hard metal, pistons, blades and blood. There’s no escape. You were born to die.
The virtual reality headset is slipped off and your back as a human, you’re safe. You’re asked ‘What now?’ by the smiling vegan who enticed you in with the promise of a free cupcake - god do you need it now. The promise is fulfilled, but not before the virtual experience is dissected.
iAnimal is a virtual reality experience as part of Animal Equality’s outreach campaign. Passers-by are invited to experience the perspective from birth to death of a farm animal, in 360 degrees. The choice of which video (chicken, pig or cow) is usually guided by how they answer:
Which animal (or animal product) do you consume the most?
While volunteering for Animal Equality UK, I saw first hand the impact these brief experiences had on the participants. Some came out from the virtual reality in floods of tears, speechless and shook. Others were defiant and defensive. Both reactions exposed a clear confrontation. There was no denying that it was a negative experience. Does that negative experience shift an individual toward acting on the issue? Does being part of that traumatic experience translate to the participant?
From the rate of sign ups to Animal Equality’s plant-based diet support initiative (the Love-Veg Pledge), the answer is a resounding yes. Those who were defensive in favor of eating animals and what they produce retreated to points on nutrition, unrealistic thought experiments (perfect world and desert island), and taste - which are regularly debunked by the volunteers in conversation.
Elizabeth Cherry writes about bridging the gap between the human and non-human animal, going one step further than the common activists saying 'If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we’d all be vegetarian.’ She states erasing the gap as main goal for the contemporary movement:
The central goal of animal rights activists is to dismantle the human-animal boundary, a process scholars have called ‘‘boundary shifting’’ (Wimmer, 2008a). Here, activists encourage the‘‘lumping’’ (Zerubavel, 1996) together of humans and animals, or of companion and farm animals, as fellow sentient beings rather than ‘‘splitting’’ them apart because of species barriers. (Cherry, E., 2010)
The visually immersive experience the human participant has in iAnimal follows this line; 'walking in another animal’s shoes’ - even if for a brief moment. Even though it was only one sense being immersed, in such short time frame, it seems to be enough to provoke conversations, and sometimes desires for change. Other senses of smell, touch and taste weren’t featured - what would happen if they were?
Leaping into such an immersive experience isn’t to be taken lightly, the use of incentives as a reward for those four minutes is used regularly. Vegan activists from the educational group Vegan Night School offer a free vegan cupcake for everyone who watches the virtual reality video. These events are held in controlled locations, mainly universities. The cupcake is more than a lure, it’s an anchor for comfort and safety. Would we witness and experience virtual trauma if we didn’t feel supported in some way. A cupcake is familiar, it’s a treat - it (sugar) can perk you up when feeling down or lethargic.
Judging by the high number of participants for iAnimal, we have a curiosity and willingness for being immersed by negative images, if we feel safe and supported. The knowledge that the experience is temporary and you are supported by volunteers, and the reward of a sweet treat, is the foundation of facilitating a personal (and horrifying) experience. Volunteers hope by facilitating the experience in this way, it will bring about individual lifestyle change - which in turn, will effect supply and demand in the plant-based/vegan market, ultimately bringing the end of animal use that bit closer to reality.
Links to the videos used in iAnimal UK are here (please be advised that there are graphic scenes*):
Cows raised for their milk
Pigs raised for their meat
Chickens raised for their meat
*Although graphic, it is the true destiny of these beings. If we turn away yet continue to buy their bodies or secretions, are we contradicting our own value system and nature?
Mit geschlossenen Augen lief ich in mein Verderben, ich wusste es und konnte nichts dagegen tun. Wie in Trance wie im Traume steuerte ich blind drauf los. Erstarrt durch das Negative, ließ ich alles zu. Ich stand neben mir, betrachtete mich und alles was geschah ohne ein Wort zu sagen ohne mich zu beklagen. Mit geschlossenen Augen lief ich in mein Verderben, es war zu schwer sie zu öffnen, es zu sehen es zu begreifen. Blind und ohne Zuversicht kein Ausweg wohin ich auch blicken wollte, die Augen blieben zu. Und dann kam das Ende, doch ist es nicht das Ende, noch immer steh ich neben mir und weiß nicht was tun…….
Ive complained about this already but like. Hn. My dad legit told me I didn’t deserve to eat because I hadn’t cleaned the entire house recently. Which was cool
Ya’ll I don’t get how some ppl say shit like “get over your trauma it’s been x amount of years”. My mom is telling me that my sister needs to “get over being the victim” because it’s been two years since she’s been r*ped.
Like ?????? Two years is not that long ?????? And I’m finding out that almost my whole family is telling me that they are thinking and feeling like this ?????? and I’m just like ??????? I’m sorry, have you ever been deeply traumatized and violated like that before ????????? What ????? I can’t relate ?????? I don’t know what it’s like to be through something as horrific as that ????? I don’t think anyone ever has the right to say something horrible like that to a person going through trauma ???????????? I’m crying ???????? Am I living in a nightmare ????????
Sometimes i crave nothing but for somebody to touch me.
Sometimes I feel so repulsed and disgusted by even the thought.
and it feels like it’s coming fast
New self care list - draft
Therapy homework, due this weekend
Things to do to make me feel better
Things to get out of a panic attack
Vices to indulge in
Open to feedback
I am not enjoying life…i am just trying to survive and cope.
Waste your teenager years studying so that you can spend your adulthood working.
I don’t have any reason to go on. Life isn’t worth living.
I kinda feel like i could explode at any moment now or have a random severe crisis. No im not okay
This is what I tell myself everyday. Even when I know I went through trauma, even when I show all the symptoms, even though I speak to my alters on a daily basis. I still can never get that thought out of my head.
“my trauma wasn’t that bad”
This is what I’ve made myself believe for years, all because I only suffered from verbal abuse and bullying. All because the only clear and full trauma memory I have is watching someone be harmed in front of me. All because I made myself believe what was going on was normal as a harmful coping mechanism.
“I don’t have the same experience as this person/ I don’t have this person’s trauma, so I don’t have DID.”
Something I kept telling myself while I was in denial, trying to convince myself that I was fine and that I was just faking my alters for attention, even though I didn’t tell a soul yet. Trying to compare my experiences to other’s without realizing that everyone experiences DID differently and can be caused by any kind of repeated childhood trauma.
What I told myself to convince myself that my dad was just strict and that everyone gets bullied.
I told myself all of this, never realizing that I was becoming my own abuser. That I was the one keeping me from seeking help and advice. That I was the one keeping me from understanding and communicating with my alters.
im not disgusting
im not unloveable
i’ve never hurt someone like you hurt me. that’s
i guess i need to be impure
Rip my mind apart
Slice open my skull
Reach your hand in
Yank out what you cant use
To control me
Shatter my psyche
Envelop my senses
Remove my sense of self
To own me
Split up my ability to feel
Sew together my sorrows
Supress my trauma
Deflect what you did
To humiliate me
Steal my name
Consume my flesh
Take everything I have
Leave me a shell
To win me
every day I hope the people who hurt me feel the wrath of God upon them.