Society (se si'i te), n. the uncontrollable urge to take the butterflies out of my dog's mouth.
Let's play pretend, shall we? You know, like you did when you were a child. This will be easier than that, though. We won't even need props. If you have an imagination, that will work. If you don't, all the better.
Put a baby in the room with you. This is not your child. It is the universal baby. It won't be boring, don't worry. He can talk. Actually, he can hold an intelligent conversation in his little hands and, probably, even eat it. Pick him up and hold him.
Now, carry him into the forest that grows just outside the door over there. Set him down in the grass. Or, if it suits you, throw him. This is pretend, remember? Now sit down and watch.
The baby just sits there for a moment. He pulls up some grass and eats it. Boring to watch, isn't it? My point exactly!
Walk over to the baby and hit him. Just give him a hard punch on his face. Make him bleed; I don't care. Just make sure you hit him good and hard. Did it? Good!
What did he do when you hit him? That's right, he cried. He is still crying now and probably will continue to unless you do something about it. Go hug him.
When you wrap your arms around the child say you love him. Say you will always love him. What is he doing now? He is smiling, he is laughing, he is happy. It seems this child either forgot that you hit him or he forgave you.
Tell him you lied. Tell him you never loved him. Now hit him again. Actually, kick him for variety. He is going to cry again but do it anyway.
To stop his crying you can't tell him you love him or dare to try and hug him. This child is not a moron and he won't fall for the same trick twice. So, give him some money. Now he is happy again.
Play a little game with the baby. He seems to like pulling up grass and eating it. So, tell him for every blade of grass he pulls out and eats, you will give him a dollar. You have taught him the value of money already and he knows that money makes him happy. So, watch this.
The baby pulls out every blade of grass in the forest and eats it. Soon there is no more grass and the baby has died of grass poisoning. Sickly ironic, don't you think?
Pretend has ended. That little game we just played is called "society." Fun, wasn't it? For you it was fun. I have a feeling the baby didn't have such a great time.
We are all that baby. If you hit us we cry. If you hug us we smile. Maybe, someday, this baby will grow up!
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.