I’m sure the following statement should sound familiar:
"My X doesn’t affect you, so you have no say in it."
"Hey, don’t you think you should maybe cut back on your cigarettes?"
"Me smoking doesn’t affect you, so you have no say in it"
"Look, I still like you and all, but don’t you think it’d be best to cut back on the McDonalds? I don’t want you getting diabetes or-"
"My diet doesn’t affect you, so you have no say in it."
"I really think you should stop drinking so much! If you become an alcoholic I don’t-""My drinking habits don’t affect you, so you have no say in it."
And so on and so forth. I’ve seen that phrase particularly often on this website, and on this blog especially. Whenever an opinion involves making a suggestion to do or not do something, there’s always somebody in the notes saying “Well, it doesn’t affect you at all, so why do you care?”
Here’s the thing, though: it does affect us. It affects us because we as human beings have this little thing called empathy. It’s an extraordinary thing that makes us feel for another person, care about them, and wish for their well being, even if it doesn’t effect us otherwise. It makes us feel grief if a friend is suffering, feel pain when somebody we know is doing something harmful, and feel guilt when we think about how we weren’t able to stop them. So if somebody tells you that you probably shouldn’t do something, they aren’t just trying to boss you around or “shame” your decisions. They legitimately think that what you are doing is hurting either you or other people, and as long as you are doing that thing, it hurts them.
Some people are more empathetic than others; some only feel for their immediate friends and relatives, some care about everybody around them, and some people will care for any individual in the world, even if they’ve never met them before. But the fact of the matter is, no matter how you’ve diluted yourself, no man is an island. There is somebody out there somewhere who doesn’t want you to suffer. So the next time somebody, be it your mother or some random poster on the internet gives you a suggestion, don’t shut them down with a “It doesn’t effect you”. Because it does.