Growing up in the world today, we are faced with an interesting array of cultural messages. Though our locations and cultures do differ, I can see some similarities that transcend them all. At some point in life, most of us will be faced with messages and popular cultural attitudes on consumerism, alcohol / drugs and food.
Lets start with the elephant of the list, consumerism.
Most children these days are faced with consumerism before they are even “aware”. Children watching cartoons, are often bombarded with commercials for the newest toys and fast food franchises with kids meals. And this is just the beginning.
Then school comes along, and industry once again steps in to supply the clothing, shoes and everything else required to school a kid these days. As one transitions into the higher grade levels (middle and high school), “fitting in” starts to become important. Especially in high school.
Students create peer pressure for all to fit some sort of prefabricated mold, at times with negative consequences if they don’t (bullying). And so industry is there to sell them the threads they need to appease.
And the people that dare to be different from the ordinary? Industry has them covered to. If there is a dollar to be made, someone will be in the business.
During high school is also when most people tend to be first exposed to alcohol. Societal culture itself tends to send very positive messages about alcohol consumption, and so this often filters into the high school experience of many. Some try it (or overindulge in it) at parties, most hear the stories and joys of it from friends and fellow students.
Anti drug and alcohol education courses teach the terrible and often negative side affects of it, and the law makes consumption of it illegal for those under aged, which only adds to the drugs appeal.
Move on up to college or university, and alcohol (mainly binge drinking) tends to be a HUGE part of the culture. The stuff practically flows like water in some cases.
Drugs often make there first appearance in high school as well. Though Marijuana is the first illegal drug for most, there are other options. I do not have much of a problem with marijuana though, even with young grade 9 students. In an ideal situation, no drugs would indeed be best. But ide much rather them using marijuana then drinking alcohol. But its usually just the illegal drugs (with the exception of alcohol) that begin to make an appearance in high school.
Drugs of the legal variety, might appear even before.
When it comes to parents that take medication for any reason themselves, the children are usually exposed to this growing up. It doesn’t matter if its an over the counter pain killer or a prescription anti-depressant, a pill is a pill. And often children will take medications at different times for different reasons. Sometimes as minor as a pain killer or cough suppressant, sometimes as major as regular ADHD drug treatment.
And then there are the advertisements. The commercials for all sorts of prescription and non-prescription drugs, running 24/7.
It all paints a picture of “medications” being safe, since there use is so ubiquitous .
And then there is the food culture of the west. The abundance of food we have at our disposal is staggering, and the messages society sends is often that eating more, is better. There is even a cable channel dedicated solely to food and everything related to it, from its preparation to its consumption. There are shows about the foods preparation, shows featuring eating contests, and everything in between.
The best time you can see this culture in action, is with the holiday behaviors of those in the west. Whether its Thanksgiving or Christmas, its all about food. Be it a Turkey, Chicken, Roast or some other part of a dead caucus, we celebrate with indulgence. We have all heard people joke about gaining 20 pounds over the holidays, and about there “food coma” brought on by holiday over eating.
And so, knowing this, I can list a few of society’s messages for us.
– Mass consumption is good, so buy as much as you can
– Alcohol is a fun substance, so drink up
– Medications are safe and widely used, so don’t think twice about turning to one to relieve your every bodily issue
– There is nothing wrong with overindulging in food
So judging by all these messages coming at us, we would think that the best precipitants of this culture, would be regarded to highly. After all, they are the best of the best, they are seemingly taking the messages of society right to heart. Lets review what we call the best participants of each group.
The Best Consumers = Hoarders
The Best Drinkers = Alcoholics
The Best Drug Takers = Druggies
The Best Eaters = Obese
One would think that the best of the best, would invoke a positive response from the majority. But instead of positive, we all as a society, tend to look DOWN on the above behaviors. Whether or not it is warranted is irrelevant, because of the message.
What is wrong with this picture?
If you are a fan of such shows as Intervention and Hoarders (of which im not, I fucking HATE both. Personal reasons), I want you to watch for something. Not in the show itself, but more, in the advertisements that air during its airtime.
For intervention, I want you to watch for advertisements for alcohol, medications (prescription OR non), or any other such substance. And while your at it, keep an eye out for anyone trying to make a buck off of the addicted.
When it comes to Hoarders, make a note of all commercials that are trying to sell you something, anything.